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Georgia Supreme Court upholds two Dougherty murder convictions

ATLANTA — The Georgia Supreme Court upheld the murder convictions of two Albany men, each convicted and sentenced to life in prison for their respective murder charges.

In the first case, the court denied Monty Simpson’s appeal of his murder conviction for the March 2010 murder of his girlfriend at an Albany motel. According to the official record, Beverly Jean Williams died from manual strangulation after having been beaten at the Dollar Inn.

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Monty Simpson

Simpson initially told police that he had left the hotel room to get some beer and that, when he returned, he found Williams dead.

He was convicted of malice murder and felony murder and sentenced to life in prison. Simpson appealed to the state supreme court to overturn his conviction based on the fact he said that the case was based overwhelmingly on circumstantial evidence.

He attempted to argue that because there was evidence the victim was intoxicated at the time of her death, evidence she had conditions such as emphysema and early onset of pneumonia, and evidence she had been known to take prescription medications in the past, it was possible Williams died from a lethal combination of alcohol, medications and existing medical conditions coupled with a drunken fall.

Supreme Court Justices ruled Monday that those contentions just don’t bear out when compared to the facts of the case. While Williams did have more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in her system, the cause of death, according to a medical examiner, was asphyxiation due to strangulation, not an overdose of alcohol or prescription drugs. A toxicology report provided at trial also showed that there were no drugs, prescription or otherwise, Williams system when she died, the court notes.

The court also upheld the conviction and life term for Ronnie Faircloth, who was convicted and sentenced to life for the 2007 murder of his wife.

Faircloth petitioned the court to overturn the denial of his petition for a new trial on the grounds that the trial court erred in allowing evidence to be submitted to the jury of previous marital issues facing the couple.

According to evidence presented at trial, Norma Faircloth was shot in the head in the apartment she had moved into just three days before and 27 years after she married her husband.

Prosecutors convinced jurors that Ronnie Faircloth had gone to his wife’s apartment after drinking beer and shot her in the cheek. Witnesses at the scene described him as nonchalant. A paramedic at the scene testified that Ronnie Faircloth told him that he needed another beer, and tried to step over his wife’s body to get one from the kitchen counter.

At trial, Ronnie Faircloth denied having any part of the killing, saying that he had initially left his house to go hunting, and that he got a call from his wife to come over to her apartment. He went over to the apartment where he told jurors that he and his wife started to “get romantic” and then left to go get beer. When he returned, he found her dead.

After reviewing the evidence in the case, the justices rendered an opinion that it was sufficient enough to convince a jury of Faircloth’s guilt and that the trial court properly instructed jurors to view the evidence “for limited purposes” when discussing previous problems in Faircloth’s marriage.