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Sentencing delayed in Harvey murder case

Photo by Kathy Jefcoats
Matthews and Harvey in Clayton County Superior Court Tuesday afternoon. Harvey’s sentencing has been delayed by Matthews’ appeal to Georgia Supreme Court.

Photo by Kathy Jefcoats Matthews and Harvey in Clayton County Superior Court Tuesday afternoon. Harvey’s sentencing has been delayed by Matthews’ appeal to Georgia Supreme Court.

By Kathy Jefcoats

kjefcoats@news-daily.com

JONESBORO — A Clayton County Superior Court judge deferred sentencing a woman convicted Friday of killing her mother in June 2011 because of an appeal filed by her public defender.

Judge Matthew Simmons said it was prudent under the law to delay sentencing convicted killer Kajul Harvey, 23. Harvey was convicted Friday of her role in the brutal beating death of her mother, Alena "Imani" Marble, 58.

"It's more prudent to wait," he said. "The defendant's not going anywhere. I think a better course is to defer sentencing till we hear back from the Georgia Supreme Court."

Public defender Lloyd Matthews appealed on double jeopardy grounds and his denial of a plea in bar. The first trial ended in a mistrial in April after Matthews revealed information to the jury in his opening statement that Simmons had told him not to. Matthews argued unsuccessfully earlier this month during a plea in bar that the granting of the mistrial was in error.

Matthews also tried several times during Harvey's trial last week to have a mistrial declared — once when Simmons learned that Harvey had threatened to disrupt the proceedings by slapping Matthews in front of the jury.

Clayton County Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Katie Powers agreed with Simmons' decision, saying she has seen the appeal.

The jury convicted Harvey of malice and felony murder after a few hours of deliberation Friday. They clearly didn't believe Harvey's version of events, which was simply that she slept through her mother's beating at the hands of Latoris Grovner. Grovner, Harvey's boyfriend, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in January and is serving a 30-year sentence in state prison.

Through evidence and witness testimony, Powers and co-counsel Deah Warren were able to show that the two committed the crime together. Powers said Harvey was the mastermind and Grovner carried out the plan, which involved beating Marble with a vodka bottle and saucepan before wrapping her in three blankets while she was still breathing and putting her in the trunk of her own car.

Powers said Harvey drove the car across the street to another apartment complex and left it to be discovered by neighbors alarmed by a trail of blood dripping from the trunk. The pair then tried several times to access Marble's Bank of America account.

"It was pure greed," said Powers.

Powers said the couple left Harvey's children, 4 and 2, inside the bloodied apartment alone with her sister, who is severely physically disabled.

Grovner was dating Harvey, who was four months pregnant with his child at the time of the killing. His defense attorney, David White, said Grovner was obsessed that Harvey aborted their first child — allegedly at Marble's urging — and he was eager to have their second child.

White said Marble brought the violence on herself. Witnesses during Grovner's trial testified that Marble was terrified of him and Harvey. White said after the verdict came down that Marble should have removed herself from the situation.

"In talking to all of these people, she said she was afraid of them," said White in January. "She knew she was playing with fire, she'd known for quite a while she was playing with fire."