July 13, 2013

Durden pleads not guilty to murder

Rachel Brown

— A Rocky Face man who pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges in the stabbing death of a Walker County man has asked through his attorney for a speedy trial.

Jonathan Colby Durden, 22, of 1067 Franklin Hill Road, was charged by the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office with two counts of murder, aggravated assault and possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime in connection with the April 9 death of 28-year-old Ricky C. Grice Jr.

Durden is tentatively scheduled for calendar call before Judge Cindy Morris in Whitfield County Superior Court on Oct. 17 to state whether he is ready to proceed with trial on Oct. 28. Assistant District Attorney Ben Kenemer said prosecutors will be ready to try the case as soon as the state crime lab returns several items they plan to introduce as evidence.

Durden told law officers in a statement captured on a 911 call that he was defending himself when he stabbed Grice inside Grice’s pickup truck. Officials said Grice was in Durden’s yard because Grice was picking up Durden’s girlfriend, who wanted to leave for the night.

Defense attorney Jerry Moncus has said he believes the evidence that will come out at trial will strongly support Durden’s self-defense claim.

Sheriff Scott Chitwood issued a statement shortly after Grice’s death saying investigators believe the evidence points to murder. Officials have said they found a gun in Grice’s truck, but they said it was behind the seat where Grice couldn’t have easily retrieved it to threaten anyone.