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‘Leroy, please wake up’: Woman accused of killing fiance describes finding him in bed
03162023 WOOD TRIAL 2
Tabitha Wood takes the stand in Hall County Superior Court Wednesday, March 15, 2023, during her murder trial. Wood is accused of killing her 82-year-old fiancé Leroy Franklin Kramer Jr. then living with the body for months. - photo by Scott Rogers

Tabitha Wood slept beside her 82-year-old fiance for three days until she had to face reality. Leroy Kramer was dead.

“Three days after I had been sleeping in there beside him, I came to my senses,” Wood said. “He’s gone. And I couldn’t accept it.”

Wood capped off the second day of testimony in her own murder trial involving Kramer's death in April 2022. Kramer was found dead in June.

The prosecution rested after 3 p.m. Tuesday following the testimony from the lead investigator, the forensic pathologist and the crime scene investigator.

The story continues below. 

Wood’s relationship with Kramer started after a mutual acquaintance called Kramer from Wood’s phone. Wood eventually talked to Kramer when he repeatedly called her.

The two met for breakfast at Burger King in town, where he explained that he needed help and was tired of living alone.

In 2020, Wood moved into the Candler Road home and got engaged the following year.

The relationship started off great, but Wood said that Kramer became aggressive. She claimed he would hit her with a belt, particularly when she would refuse to have sex with him.

Wood said Kramer had a “great mind,” at odds with what Kramer’s stepdaughter discussed regarding Kramer’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Defense attorney Rob McNeill asked Wood if she loved him, to which she replied “very much.”

“I know how he treated me, but it was very hard for me not to love him when he was in the position like he was when I met him, not having nobody,” Wood testified.

Around the time of his death, Wood said Kramer asked her if she wanted to go into the bedroom and have sex. Wood said she would prefer not to.

“I could tell in his expression and the way that he would talk that it was going to be ugly,” Wood said.

Wood said she capitulated, saying she would have sex if he would stop being ugly and get along.

“I ended up not doing it and him starting hitting me with a belt again,” Wood said.

Later in the evening, Wood claimed that Kramer said she was going to have sex with him and marry him.

At one point, Wood said Kramer had a hold of her hair, and she was trying to force him off of her.

While she said she kicked him, she also testified she “possibly could have blacked out.”

Wood said she got out of the house and heard him say, “B--h, I’m going to kill you.”

She ran up the driveway and stayed there until daylight, according to her testimony.

Wood returned to the house and made breakfast, and Kramer never came in to eat, she said.

“I went back in to try to check on him again, and I realized he was still laying in the same position,” Wood said. “He had blood dripping from his nose. I kept shaking him saying, ‘Leroy, please wake up. Please wake up.’”

Wood said she slept beside him for three days, claiming he was a deep sleeper and would get agitated if woken up.

Wood claimed the law has never been on her side. She started panicking and made her mind up that she was “going to make the police shoot me if they came in so I wouldn’t have to deal with this, ‘cause nobody would listen.”

“I was very scared. I was very stressed out from being there two months with him there, knowing that he’s not going to come back, that he’s gone and I didn’t want to accept that,” Wood said.

After an hour of Wood’s testimony, the defense asked the judge to make a motion.

Once the jury was excused, defense co-counsel Jake Shapiro made the argument that the defense had made a sufficient showing of self defense in order to introduce prior bad acts by Kramer.

While the prosecution and defense agreed that it met two of the requirements, the sticking point was whether Wood was seeking to defend herself.

Superior Court Judge Lindsay Burton said Wood did not admit to using deadly force.

“She never said that she killed him,” Burton said. “She said that she kicked him in the ribs, and the ribs didn’t cause his death.”

Shapiro said Wood can’t definitively say her actions killed Kramer because she left the scene.

After some back-and-forth with Burton, Shapiro said he was willing to continue questioning Wood. Assistant District Attorney Rachel Bennett immediately objected, saying the defense now knows what it needs to elicit from Wood’s testimony to get their wish.

Burton instructed the jury to return at 10 a.m. Thursday for further testimony, though the attorneys will return before then to continue arguing on the motion.

This story was originally published in the Gainesville Times, a sister publication of DCN.