Martinez man acquitted in murder case retrial

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A Martinez man convicted in the 2003 slaying of his mother was acquitted Friday in Columbia County after a five-day retrial.

In March 2005, a jury convicted Tom Edwin Chumley, 59, of murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. He was sentenced to life in prison.

The Georgia Supreme Court granted Mr. Chumley a new trial in January 2008 after ruling that a comment made by Chief Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet in the first trial was prejudicial to the jury.

"We're thrilled," attorney Pete Theodocion said. "He's been in jail for almost five years. He's got a young daughter. He got his life back. We're real happy."

Mr. Chumley was indicted on murder and weapons charges in April 2004 after authorities said he confessed to shooting Meredith "Pete" Guy, 74, who was found dead in her Twin Lakes Drive home Feb. 28, 2003. An autopsy revealed she died of two .22-caliber gunshot wounds to her upper back and head.

Martha Mantlow, Mr. Chumley's sister, said she expected the acquittal because of the jury's four-hour deliberation.

"They were taking too long. They came back in two hours the last time," she said as her two daughters cried after the verdict was announced. "I think there were too many lies. Lies that weren't countered. They (the jury) only got presented what they heard, and a lot of it was lies. It is what it is."

Mr. Chumley turned himself in to police in April 2004 and made two videotaped statements confessing to the murder.

During the retrial, Mr. Theodocion acknowledged the confessions were voluntarily made, but he said they were false.

On the witness stand, Mr. Chumley denied the crime. His attorney said the stress of being publicly named a suspect, marital and business problems and acute bipolar disorder made him confess.

During the 2005 trial, Judge Overstreet noted in his comments to the jury that the confessions were made voluntarily. The state Supreme Court concluded they should have been presented without comment.

District Attorney Ashley Wright apologized to Ms. Guy's family after Friday's verdict.

Judge Overstreet, who presided over the retrial, wouldn't allow testimony from two of Ms. Wright's rebuttal witnesses, including one who claimed he was formerly incarcerated with Mr. Chumley.

The man was going to testify that Mr. Chumley admitted he shot his mother as a "mercy killing" because she was ill.

The judge said allowing the witness to testify would have been unfair.

Mr. Chumley was released from the Columbia County Detention Center on Friday afternoon.

Reach Valerie Rowell at (706) 868-1222, ext. 110, or valerie.rowell@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (41) Add comment
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Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/18/09 - 02:12 am
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So the mercy killing angle

So the mercy killing angle WAS involved. That can play with the jury's mind. Interesting comments from Ms. Mantlow about the lies not being countered. This is a monumental case of someone who confessed to murder getting off. What I can't understand is how the DA, Ashley Wright, lost this case while knowing exactly what went wrong the last time from the GA Supreme Court's ruling. Unbestinkinglievable.

Craig Spinks
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Craig Spinks 07/18/09 - 03:08 am
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Who was the presiding judge?

Who was the presiding judge?

Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/18/09 - 04:08 am
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Heck, who was the jury?

Heck, who was the jury?

DEVGRU
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DEVGRU 07/18/09 - 04:36 am
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Good grief. Thanks Judge O. A

Good grief. Thanks Judge O. A killer goes free. At least he served five years. So much for Ms. Wright at election time.

overburdened_taxpayer
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overburdened_taxpayer 07/18/09 - 05:14 am
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It wasn't Ms. Wright's fault.

It wasn't Ms. Wright's fault. The Judge was running gunshy after he was once reversed and didn't want another reversal. Ms. Wright had the evidence, she just wasn't allowed to present it.

curly123053
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curly123053 07/18/09 - 05:21 am
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Sounds like another

Sounds like another malfunction of justice to me, but what was the malfunction? Something don't seem right here but it is to late to do anything now.

americafirst
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americafirst 07/18/09 - 07:13 am
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It looks like you were on to

It looks like you were on to something, Riverman. However the fact of where she was found and had been shot once in the back and then in the head, to me indicates that she was either trying to get away from the person or was shot from behind by surprise by someone she trusted and then one to the head to finish her off. I suspect the comments to the fellow inmate if actually said was just a way to try to justify the killing Assuming that he was the murderer that is.

CKB
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CKB 07/18/09 - 08:55 am
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How sad is this. I hope judge

How sad is this. I hope judge and jury are happy this morning! The ONLY thing good about this case is that we, as the taxpayers, do not have to pay to keep this sorry excuse for a man in jail the rest of his life! I expected this. after learning Overstreet was the judge- you know the routine of not even slapping real criminals on the hand. I hope with all my heart Mrs. Guy did not see or understand that her SON would take her life. I just pray one day his daughter will understand the real truth. I will pray for her daily.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/18/09 - 09:08 am
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It is what it is. Don't blame

It is what it is. Don't blame this on anyone. Mr. Theodocion won and it's an important capital murder case that will be discussed forever. Chumley is out. Judge Overstreet was apparently supportive of the prosecutor's positions at the original trial. At this trial, I'm not sure why the prisoner in jail couldn't testify that he heard Chumley say he did it out of mercy, but I doubt that would have meant much. In fact, it would have only put the mercy factor in the jury's mind again. It would be interesting to hear comments from the losing side...the DA.

irish62009
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irish62009 07/18/09 - 09:43 am
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So I guess what this tells us

So I guess what this tells us all is it's ok to shoot someone as long as they are ill.Lord help us!

TORTURE
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TORTURE 07/18/09 - 09:59 am
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District Attorney Ashley

District Attorney Ashley Wright,need to be oust from her position, is not capable of doing her job this was a sealed conviction,confessed on tape, for the prosecutor and she was unable to convince a jury that Mr. Chumley commited this crime.

americafirst
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americafirst 07/18/09 - 10:02 am
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I am confident that he

I am confident that he (chumley) did not testify that he shot her out of mercy. He denied killing her. I don't think there was any testimony in that regard before the jury.

americafirst
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americafirst 07/18/09 - 10:05 am
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You can't base your opinion

You can't base your opinion of Wright on one verdict from one jury. It is not reported what other evidence the State had. If the defense was able to cast doubt on the confession that may have been all it took to create reasonable doubt in the mind of a guillable jury.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 07/18/09 - 10:08 am
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I have no love for Judge

I have no love for Judge Overstreet, but I think he was correct in not allowing testimony from the cellmate. Since the first trial was ruled incorrect by the Supreme Court, a correct trial MIGHT have led to an acquittal in the first place and then there would have been no cellmate to testify. The ruling makes sense to me. No evidence taken after the original guilty verdict should be admissible in a re-trial, in my opinion.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/18/09 - 10:26 am
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Americafirst, oh, I agree

Americafirst, oh, I agree Chumley never testified he killed her out of mercy although he may have said it during the confessions. My point is that the seed was planted for the jury in various ways discussing things about Ms. Guy's age, her condition and the way her son "felt" about her. This may have only been one trial, but it is huge with lots of emotions in the community. I predict it will be the lead editorial tomorrow in the AC. LL, the only mistake Overstreet made was he commented to the jury about the confessions. Admission of disputed confessions is a two step process. Before the jury, he should have only allowed the confessions without comment, as Americafirst said. He would have been convicted anyway. Man, this is unreal.

concernedcitizen1974
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concernedcitizen1974 07/18/09 - 11:01 am
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Truth Tom Chumley commited

Truth Tom Chumley commited MURDER !!! We can help if we see him in a department store, grocery store etc, by saying as loud as we can to everybody in our voices hearing distance. This is Tom Chumley Murderer,3 confessions no problem. Tom felt so much remorse he tried to commit suicide and I'm so sorry he didn't succeed. Maybe his heart will turn and he will feel so bad he will try to kill himself again. If he needs help to do it just try a Google search. Columbia County will be a better place with Tom Chumley GONE

jack
11
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jack 07/18/09 - 01:06 pm
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Overstreet needs to go!

Overstreet needs to go!

Little Lamb
49279
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Little Lamb 07/18/09 - 01:24 pm
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Come on now,

Come on now, concernedcitizen. There is always a chance for repentance and redemption.

The Knave
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The Knave 07/18/09 - 01:33 pm
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TO: Little Lamb -- Of all

TO: Little Lamb -- Of all the blah, blah, blah posted about this article, your comments stand out as eminently sensible with respect to exclusion of "evidence" obtained by the prosecution after the first trial.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/18/09 - 02:34 pm
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The Knave, so you are saying

The Knave, so you are saying that LL's assertion that no other evidence should be allowed after the first trial is a good idea? I agree it is interesting to go over these "what if the law only said this and that" scenarios. If we can only get the law changed, we could try LL's idea. I suppose it would have equaled out in this trial. One thing that was misreported on a local radio talk show is that the defense had a new witness that gave Chumley an alibi. There is no mention of such a witness in the article.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 07/18/09 - 04:04 pm
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On the surface, without much

On the surface, without much thought, I'm inclined to say, "What's good for the goose is good for the gander," RM. So I might go along with the idea that the prosecution should not be allowed to call witnesses or present physical evidence collected after the original conviction; and that the defense should not be allowed to present witnesses it could not cough up before the original conviction. I'm sure that some legal beagle can point out a weakness in the analogy, however.

ladyjanegrey
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ladyjanegrey 07/18/09 - 04:27 pm
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WOW..!! this dude is a white

WOW..!! this dude is a white guy...how odd is that? No DNA?

ladyjanegrey
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ladyjanegrey 07/18/09 - 04:30 pm
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This is of course a satirical

This is of course a satirical look at this trial............. (for those who will explode with rightious indignation.)...lol

womanofthelasthour
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womanofthelasthour 07/18/09 - 04:47 pm
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Too many killers are being

Too many killers are being set free!!

jacobwriggsly
1
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jacobwriggsly 07/18/09 - 05:12 pm
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Shiet, the guy confessed,

Shiet, the guy confessed, what else do you need? Had to be a Richmond County jury tee hee or all ACORN members!

sharpshooter
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sharpshooter 07/18/09 - 06:12 pm
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My comment to irish62009,

My comment to irish62009, these mercy killings are performed daily in Augusta and throughout the nation. "Hospice at home", is too often a private killing system. Search for Ron Panzer on the net, his organization keeps track of these mercy killings. I would have never thought such activities happened until my dad was 'put down' for his money.

Truth Seeker
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Truth Seeker 07/18/09 - 06:33 pm
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Yea Tom, I knew you were

Yea Tom, I knew you were innocent. The judicial system in this town is unbelievably corrupted. Crooked , lying cops and office seeking DA's .My advice is to move.

ladyjanegrey
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ladyjanegrey 07/18/09 - 06:38 pm
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LOL..explosion noted...LOl

LOL..explosion noted...LOl

trixiem
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trixiem 07/18/09 - 09:04 pm
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The thing is that you are all

The thing is that you are all going on about this do you know this man do you know what was really behind what happened do you care of course not but you would if it was your family or your friend then you would want everyone to look at it from a different point of view. So just let it go I won't want to be any of you just as I feel for Tommy no matter what you say or do it will never give him peace he will suffer no matter what his reasons because of the person that he is inside. So let it go and hope this never happens to you or someone you know in your family or someone you love.

country boy
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country boy 07/18/09 - 09:12 pm
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When you KILL your MOTHER and

When you KILL your MOTHER and get away with it. YOU will KILL again. Just a matter of time before the Bi Polar strikes again.
WHOOOO will be next. That is the question.

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