Geoffrey Prince admitted he got into a physical confrontation with a slaying victim but said the last time he saw her she was arguing with another man.
When Richmond County Sheriff Investigator Tim Owen checked this out, he discovered the man Mr. Prince tried to implicate was in Georgia Regional Hospital the night 48-year-old Vanessa Adolph was brutally beaten and dumped on a private drive off River Watch Parkway.
At Wednesday's conclusion of a three-day trial, a Richmond County Superior Court jury convicted Mr. Prince of murder. Because the only punishment is life in prison, Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet immediately imposed his sentence.
"He (Mr. Prince) lied to try to blame an innocent man," District Attorney Danny Craig told the jury in his closing argument.
When Mr. Prince, 36, decided to tell detectives his version of what happened Dec. 16, 2003, he said Ms. Adolph and a 54-year-old mentally ill homeless man asked him for a ride from a Walton Way gas station.
"All I did was pick them up and give them a ride," he told Sgt. Scott Peebles on Dec. 26, 2003. "They jumped me and tried to rob me."
Mr. Prince described how he defended himself. He had to hit Ms. Adolph and kick her in the face and chest.
He also fought off the homeless man, slamming him to the ground twice.
It all happened on the private drive that leads to a quarry off River Watch Parkway, Mr. Prince said in his statement.
On Dec. 17, 2003, Ms. Adolph's body was found near that road. In the area investigators also found items belonging to Mr. Prince's girlfriend.
According to Dr. Keith Lehman, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation medical examiner, blunt force trauma shattered Ms. Adolph's nose and left her eyes blackened and swollen. Other blows split her skin, he testified.
She had 14 broken ribs, one of which punctured a lung. Other blows led to internal bleeding in her abdomen, Dr. Lehman testified. Marks around her neck indicated she was probably strangled, he testified.
Defense attorney Randolph Frails told the jury in closing that he couldn't deny DNA testing proved Ms. Adolph's blood was on a pair of Mr. Prince's pants. However, it was one small spot, inconsistent with a brutal beating, Mr. Frails argued.
Mr. Prince admitted there was a fight, and he could have gotten blood on him then, Mr. Frails said.
Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.