Originally created 05/11/06

Jurors convict man of murder

Todd R. Paslay just couldn't accept the fact that he's a murderer, a prosecutor told jurors Wednesday. They agreed.

After deliberating less than two hours, the Richmond County Superior Court jurors convicted Mr. Paslay, 29, of murder for the Aug. 20, 2004, shooting death of his wife, Elizabeth Paslay.

Mrs. Paslay was just 21 years old when she died on her kitchen floor. The blood evidence showed she had turned her head and held up her left arm in a hopeless act of self-defense, Assistant District Attorney Parks White argued in his closing statement.

"This is Elizabeth's one chance for justice," he told the jurors at the conclusion of Mr. Paslay's three-day trial.

Defense attorney Peter Johnson asked jurors to look for the reasons why Mrs. Paslay died. How could someone who had been so normal, law-abiding, and hard-working possibly be a murderer, Mr. Johnson asked.

"He's just like you."

Mr. Paslay just snapped that night, Mr. Johnson argued. Mrs. Paslay had been verbally and physically abusive throughout their short marriage and on that last night Mr. Paslay cracked.

He asked the jury for manslaughter - an illegal killing that would be murder if not for a sudden, passionate provocation that could drive a reasonable man to kill.

The fighting had ended and Mr. Paslay could have gotten in his truck and driven away that night, Mr. White countered.

Instead, he went to his truck, retrieved his .40-caliber Glock handgun and walked back into the house. He knocked his wife to the floor, stood over her and shot her in the head, Mr. White said.

The judge wouldn't allow two defense witnesses to testify with the jury present.

One was a sociologist who said she believes Mr. Paslay suffered from battered person syndrome and post traumatic stress disorder.

The second was Mr. Paslay's divorce attorney, who described Mr. Paslay as an emotional wreck at the end of a bitter divorce and child-custody case with his first wife.

Elizabeth Paslay insisted he continue the battle for child support despite Beth Ann Smith's legal advice that he stop, she testified.

The last time she saw Mr. Paslay he looked like a whipped animal, she testified outside the presence of the jury Tuesday.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.


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