Columbia County jury frees man once convicted of killing mother

Friday, July 17, 2009 12:52 PM
Last updated 10:51 PM
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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.

Tom Edwin Chumley gestures while testifying in his retrial for the murder of his mother,  Meredith Pete Guy, 74, who was found dead in her Twin Lakes Drive home on Feb. 28, 2003. Chumley was originally convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison plus five years in 2005 but the Georgia Supreme Court overturned the conviction in January.  Jim Blaylock/Staff
Jim Blaylock/Staff
Tom Edwin Chumley gestures while testifying in his retrial for the murder of his mother, Meredith Pete Guy, 74, who was found dead in her Twin Lakes Drive home on Feb. 28, 2003. Chumley was originally convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison plus five years in 2005 but the Georgia Supreme Court overturned the conviction in January.

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 claimed the stress of being publicly named a suspect, marital and business problems and acute bi polar 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 of 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.

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americafirst
965
Points
americafirst 07/17/09 - 06:37 pm
1
0
Lowell: on occassion, a court

Lowell: on occassion, a court will find that there is error but that it is harmless cause the evidence of guilt is overwhelming. They did not do so in this case and further seemed to say that the error committed cannot be considered harmless.

jacobwriggsly
1
Points
jacobwriggsly 07/17/09 - 07:12 pm
0
1
americafirst, same question,

americafirst, same question, didn't he confess---didn't the court say he was guilty but deserved a new trial because of a trial error???? Duh? again.

country boy
0
Points
country boy 07/17/09 - 07:26 pm
0
1
The D.A. did her job. She

The D.A. did her job. She presented the same case as before. But when you have jurors with no "COMMON SENSE" and cannot think and do the right thing this is what you get. You are going to see more of this in the future because of the above quote. There are plenty of those folks in the world today.

HillGuy
7
Points
HillGuy 07/17/09 - 07:26 pm
0
1
Hey murderers are you hearing

Hey murderers are you hearing this?? If you want to committ murder and get away with it...heck even confess to it and still get off scott free then Columbia County is your oyster.

JohnQPublic
5
Points
JohnQPublic 07/17/09 - 07:30 pm
0
1
i guess his mother murdered

i guess his mother murdered herself. Don't forrget, someone was murdered.

country boy
0
Points
country boy 07/17/09 - 07:33 pm
0
1
She tripped and the gun went

She tripped and the gun went off. Shot her twice. Don't you know?

corgimom
31016
Points
corgimom 07/17/09 - 07:37 pm
0
1
Now he's free to spend the

Now he's free to spend the rest of his life searching for the REAL killer, just like OJ.

dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 07/17/09 - 08:35 pm
0
1
I'm praying for Martha and
Unpublished

I'm praying for Martha and her family that whatever is,is! Mrs.
Chumbley was a very nice person and I hope justice will eventually be served. Maybe it has been i don't know but let us
be cautious about who is put on the bench.

Happy Camper 455
6
Points
Happy Camper 455 07/17/09 - 08:37 pm
0
1
hee hee.

hee hee.

cajunnana2000
2
Points
cajunnana2000 07/17/09 - 08:49 pm
1
0
I'm shocked, nobody said it

I'm shocked, nobody said it was Obama's fault

realitycheck1
0
Points
realitycheck1 07/17/09 - 09:03 pm
0
1
I like that everyone blames

I like that everyone blames the defense attorney. Sounds to me like that person did his job. If you want to be mad, be mad at your District Attorney for not getting a conviction. I swear, the idiot rednecks around here are ridiculous.

HillGuy
7
Points
HillGuy 07/17/09 - 09:18 pm
0
1
This is the fault of

This is the fault of Overstreet and the DAs office.

enana031
0
Points
enana031 07/17/09 - 09:24 pm
0
1
Chumley will definitely pay

Chumley will definitely pay for this heinous crime one day. It's not hot here compared to where he is headed. If a jury freed him, they could just as easily convict an innocent person. Pretty scary.

jacobwriggsly
1
Points
jacobwriggsly 07/17/09 - 09:46 pm
0
1
That jury just had to come

That jury just had to come from harrisburg!

concernedcitizen1974
0
Points
concernedcitizen1974 07/17/09 - 09:53 pm
0
1
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

dani
12
Points
dani 07/18/09 - 08:19 am
0
1
"...HE confessed...." Get it

"...HE confessed...." Get it now?

CobaltGeorge
154759
Points
CobaltGeorge 07/18/09 - 02:23 pm
0
0
I have been in many foreign

I have been in many foreign countries and still feel that we have the best Judical System on earth.....Untill this one side thinking sotomayor is appointed to the Supreme Court. I also realize we have a judical system that has many flaws. It is not pefect but still the best.

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