Local News

November 26, 2013

Jury rejects self-defense claim in stabbing

Rocky Face man convicted of murder, sentencing today

Ricky Grice Jr. died trying to do a “good deed” for a friend, District Attorney Bert Poston says.

Grice was stabbed multiple times by Jonathan Colby Durden, of 279 Quinn Drive in Rocky Face, earlier this year when Grice attempted to take Durden’s girlfriend, Alexa Blubaugh, away from Durden’s residence — which did not have power or running water — so she could shower.

Monday morning, Durden was found guilty by a Whitfield County jury of two counts of felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime. He had claimed self-defense. Sentencing was set for today at 2 p.m. by Superior Court Judge Cindy Morris. The sentence for murder is life in prison. Morris will have to decide whether Durden should be eligible for parole.

“We’re very pleased,” Poston said. “The jury spent about an hour-and-a-half considering the evidence. There was a lot of evidence but it was very clear. He claimed self-defense, but there was no way it could have happened the way he said.”

Durden told authorities at the time of the incident that he stabbed Grice because Grice had a gun. Grice was attempting to drive away with Blubaugh when Grice stabbed him, Poston said.

“A firearm was found in the truck behind the seat, but the driver would have had to get out of the vehicle and tilt the seat forward to be able to get it, and he was sitting in the front seat, so he couldn’t have got it from where he was at,” Capt. Rick Swiney, with the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office, said in April when the incident occurred.

According to Poston, Blubaugh asked Grice to come pick her up initially because her dog was sick and she wanted to take it to the vet. The dog died before he got there about 2 a.m. on April 9. So Blubaugh asked Grice to take her somewhere so she could shower.

“(Durden) was jealous and thought she was leaving him,” Poston said. “She told the defendant she was going for a few hours and would be back; she wasn’t leaving him. Mr. Durden had been using drugs that night. He attacked the victim unprovoked.”

Grice had gotten in his truck with Blubaugh to leave when Durden said he wanted to shake Grice’s hand. Instead, Durden stabbed Grice three times in the chest, one of which pierced his heart, Poston said. Grice also had multiple cuts on the face and neck.

Grice put the truck in gear to try to get away, but he had lost too much blood and the truck rolled into a ditch when he collapsed, Poston said.

“The victim was just trying to do a good deed, help someone, and paid with his life for trying to do the right thing,” Poston said.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Ben Kenemer. It was his first murder case, Poston said.

“He did a phenomenal job,” Poston said. “I’m real proud of him.”

Durden’s attorney, Jerry Moncus, did not immediately return a phone message on Monday.

A private message sent to the Facebook page “We Support Jon Durden” requesting an interview with Durden’s family was also not immediately answered.

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