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.

Text Only
Local News
  • Kiwanis Club3.jpg Kiwanians get a lesson in money and banking

    It makes it easier for us to buy and sell goods and services. It is the measure by which we judge the relative value of those goods and services, and it allows us to “store value,” by placing it away and using it when we need it.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sheriff: Inmates don’t ask to vote

    In his 21 years of service, Whitfield County Sheriff Scott Chitwood said inmates have never asked for the opportunity to vote.

    July 28, 2014

  • Little library 1 mlh.jpg Little Libraries, big goal

    Whitfield County just received a new library.
    And better yet, 26 more are on the way to the region.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Picture 3.jpg Rock solid

    A great number of things have come and gone since 1974.
    One that hasn’t: a small Dalton school founded by parents wanting a unique learning environment for their children.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vann House Day '14 6 mlh.jpg History comes alive at Vann House

    SPRING PLACE — In the early 1800s, the 1,000-acre plantation belonging to Cherokee Indian leader James Vann was a bustling place.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • Local officials agree with Deal

    Regarding news last week that approximately 30 unaccompanied minors from Central America, who had crossed the southern border into the United States, were sent without warning to Dalton last year and enrolled in Dalton Public Schools, Republican politicians representing portions of Murray and Whitfield Counties agree — state and local school officials deserved to know in advance, they say.

    July 26, 2014

  • Former chamber location 2 mlh.jpg Plan could cut flooding, stormwater damage in Dalton

    On a recent day, McClellan Creek flowed gently through Harlan Godfrey Civitan Park. But some park goers who live near the area say that even a mild rain can turn the creek into a torrent that eats away at their property.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Civil War anniversary: The Battle of Crow Valley, May 9-12, 1864

    The Atlanta Campaign began during the first two weeks of May 1864 in and around Dalton. Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s strategy was to target two of his armies, about 80,000 men, against Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s Army of Tennessee at Dalton. Then, while Johnston’s attention was diverted by these forces, he would secretly send his third army, about 25,000 troops under Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson, in a flanking movement to the southwest through Snake Creek Gap. Sherman’s goal was to break Johnston’s railroad supply line some 15 miles south at Resaca and trap Johnston’s Confederates in Dalton.

    July 26, 2014

  • New church being  built mlh.jpg Church construction continues

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Avans.jpg Three arrested in arson plot to claim insurance money

    Three people have been arrested for their role in a fire at a Chatsworth home as part of an insurance scam to collect money, officials said.

    July 25, 2014 3 Photos