GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — A jury has found Jimmy Spencer guilty of seven counts of capital murder for the murder of three people in Guntersville in 2018.
Spencer was charged in the deaths of Marie Martin, her great-grandson Colton Lee, and her neighbor Martha Reliford in July 2018. He was charged with seven counts of capital murder in the case.
Spencer was seen smirking and taking a deep breath in the courtroom as the verdict was read out. The members of the victims’ families were emotional in the gallery after the verdict.
The jury, made up of seven men and five women, deliberated for about 35 minutes before returning with a verdict.
Jury selection for the trial began on Oct. 17 and took several days as jurors were thoroughly questioned on what they knew of the case and what their opinions on the death penalty were.
At the same time, the prosecution and defense gave arguments on if Spencer was mentally competent enough to face the death penalty, though the judge ultimately ruled he was.
When testimony finally began on the fourth day of the trial, the jury heard vivid testimony from Martin’s granddaughter of the scene as she found her grandmother and Lee. The prosecution provided pictures of the scene, Martin and Lee which painted a grim picture.
Later testimony from State Medical Examiner Dr. Valerie Green said Martin had been strangled with a dog leash and Lee had been hit in the head 16 or 17 times. She said the injuries were consistent with a claw hammer. Guntersville Police Officers at the scene reportedly found one near his body.
Testimony from other officers said they found Reliford dead in her home after responding to the scene at Martin’s home across the street.
Multiple witnesses said Reliford had been dead for several days and pictures of the scene painted a grim sight. Officers and Green all testified to the presence of insects in Reliford’s home and on her remains.
Green said Reliford had been struck several times in the head.
The biggest revelation in the case came on the sixth day of the trial when prosecutors played a recording where Spencer admitted to the killings to police.
Spencer could be heard saying he and his girlfriend were homeless at the time and he had gone to Reliford’s house for money. Reliford had previously paid Spencer to do odd jobs for her.
In the recording, Spencer described how he hit Reliford with a hatchet several times and slit her throat to be sure she was dead. He also could be heard saying he stole about $600 at the time.
Spencer also expressed remorse for his actions.
“If I could’ve got the money any other kind of way I would’ve did it,” He said.
Despite that, Spencer said after he ran out of money he decided to go to Martin’s house. He recounted how both were killed and expressed remorse for involving Lee.
In his closing arguments, Marshall County District Attorney Everette Johnson said while Spencer claimed to be sorry he still chose to go to Martin’s house. He said despite Spencer admitting to the killings, the evidence is also overwhelming.
Defense Attorney Jerry Baker gave only a brief closing statement urging the jury to carefully consider the evidence and deliberate together.
The penalty phase in the case will begin Friday.