South Ga. man faces trial in slaying of ex-wife, parents

JESUP, Ga. -- A Wayne County man is about to stand trial for his life in the slayings of his former wife and her parents nearly 3 1/2 years after their deaths.


James Ralph "J.R." Spell, 40, of Jesup is charged with murdering Amanda Harrison Spell, 24, and her parents, Jeaney Mason Harrison, 49, and Gary Aldine Harrison, 54. He faces the death penalty if convicted of murder.

Superior Court Judge Stephen Scarlett will preside over the trial at the Wayne County Courthouse in Jesup. Jury selection will begin Jan. 24.

Amanda Spell and her parents were shot July 31, 2007, in a pre-dawn attack at the Harrisons' home near Georgia Highway 169. She and her father died at the scene. Jeaney Harrison died four days later.

The Harrisons' granddaughter, then 4, was inside the home but was not injured.

Amanda Spell was shot multiple times. Her father was shot in the chest and stabbed, and her mother was shot in the back with a shotgun, according to an eight-count indictment charging Spell.

Spell is also charged with aggravated battery, aggravated assault, first-degree cruelty to children, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Investigators have declined comment about the motive for the shootings, but J.R. and Amanda Spell had a history of domestic disputes.

At the time of the shootings, Spell was under a restraining order forbidding him from having contact with his ex-wife or her family. Sheriff's deputies were also looking for him on aggravated assault charges in an unrelated case.

His prior convictions include terroristic threats and acts, criminal interference with government property, driving under the influence and possession of marijuana, state records show., (912) 264-0405



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