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A Richmond County Superior Court jury will begin deliberations today in the capital murder trial of Adrian Hargrove.
Attorneys for Hargrove, 36, have conceded his guilt in the Feb. 9, 2008, killings of a pregnant teen and her parents, but they are seeking a verdict that Hargrove was mentally ill and intellectually disabled.
Such a verdict would mean he would not face a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole or death for the stabbing and beating deaths of 18-year-old Allyson Pederson and Sharon and Andrew Hartley.
District Attorney Ashley Wright told the jury Thursday in her closing statement that Hargrove was mentally competent and guilty.
“That’s all it is; it’s that simple,” Wright said.
She said Hargrove tricked Pederson into leaving her home with him, took her to a trash-filled, abandoned trailer on Horseshoe Road and stabbed and cut her 21 times with a butcher knife.
He returned to her Bennock Mill Road home and stabbed her mother, Sharon Hartley, at least 12 times before he attacked stepfather Andrew Hartley, stabbing him 21 times and hitting him with an ax handle 17 times – breaking both weapons, Wright said.
“This is no scuffle, this is not a fight (as Hargrove told doctors who examined him) it’s a slaughter,” Wright said.
She said Hargrove told many lies to deflect guilt and now wants to hide behind a verdict of guilty but mentally ill. Wright asked the jury to consider Hargrove’s IQ test score of 77, a score reached years before, she said.
What Hargrove told mental health doctors didn’t match his actions, she argued.
Gerald Word of the Georgia Capital Defender Office argued that the weight of the evidence presented by defense expert witnesses requires a verdict of both guilty but mentally ill and guilty but mentally retarded.
“He’s guilty,” Word said. “(But) he did not become who he is in a vacuum.”
He asked the jury to rely on Dr. Charles Nelson, a Harvard University pediatrics professor who has studied the effects of abuse and neglect on children’s brain development.
Defense experts testified that their testing and research led them to conclude Hargrove is mentally ill and intellectually disabled, Word said.
In 2000 and 2002 while in prison, Hargrove was diagnosed as suffering from post-traumatic stress and schizoaffective disorders and treated with psychotropic drugs, Word said. He has been treated with such drugs since he has been held in the Richmond County jail awaiting trial.
Word implored the jury to consider the expert witness with 40 years of experience in teaching and studying the education of intellectually disabled people who found Hargrove’s adaptive skill level to be that of an 11-year-old.