A Hall County jury convicted Tabitha Wood on all counts in the death of her 82-year-old fiance, Leroy Franklin Kramer Jr.
Wood was convicted of malice murder, felony murder, exploitation of an elder person, concealing the death of another, financial transaction card theft and aggravated assault against a person 65 years of age or older.
The indictment accused Wood of inflicting traumatic injuries to Kramer’s neck and chest, though a specific weapon is not listed.
The hyoid bone in Kramer’s neck and the thyroid cartilage, which is considered the front of the voice box, were severely damaged.
The jury was allowed to consider a less serious charge of voluntary manslaughter in lieu of malice and felony murder. Deliberations lasted roughly 90 minutes.
Sentencing will be held at a later date.
Defense attorney Jake Shapiro asked Superior Court Judge Lindsay Burton if Wood would be allowed to hug her mother. Because of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office deputies’ concerns, the hug request was denied.
During closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Harold Buckler displayed copies of the bank records, showing repeated CashApp transactions through early 2022.
“By the time May rolls around, she is emptying his account, OK?” Buckler said.
Buckler went through what he called Wood's 12 stories she has told her friends, her family, Kramer's family, law enforcement, the defense's expert and the jury since early 2022.
Over the three days of evidence, the prosecution highlighted how Wood claimed Kramer was still alive and living in Gilmer County and later telling multiple people that he took his own life.
Shapiro repeatedly criticized the lack of testing for DNA, fingerprint and blood found on the walls and furniture, calling it an incompetent investigation.
One of the reasons given for the lack of testing was that Wood said she did not suffer any bloody injuries that would have led to the evidence found at the scene.
During his closing argument, Shapiro pulled out a belt and whipped it in the well of the courtroom to illustrate the abuse Wood testified she suffered at Kramer's hands. He returned to the limited evidence allowed by the judge regarding prior abuse Wood claimed Kramer committed against other women by his admission.
The family members who “couldn’t even call (Kramer) on Christmas” didn’t know Kramer like Wood did, Shapiro said.
Responding to the “12 stories” part of the prosecution’s closing argument, Shapiro said Wood has consistently tried to tell people about how she was being abused.
Shapiro vehemently implored the jury to not convict Wood of murder or the lesser option of voluntary manslaughter, asking them to find her not guilty of all charges.
Wood asserted self-defense, though Buckler pointed to the fact that Wood did not testify to any violence that would have led to Kramer’s fatal injuries.
As he rose to finish his closing argument, Buckler asked Superior Court Judge Lindsay Burton if the defense was seeking to withdraw the voluntary manslaughter instruction.
Shapiro said for legal reasons he could not, which Buckler pointed to as the defense trying to have it both ways.
Shapiro objected to this, which was overruled by Burton.
This story was originally published in the Gainesville Times, a sister publication of DCN.