Local News

April 12, 2013

Murder suspect claims self-defense

When Jonathan Colby Durden was arrested for stabbing to death Ricky C. Grice Jr. Tuesday morning, he told authorities it was self-defense, officials said.

Authorities aren’t buying Durden’s story.

The 22-year-old remains without bond in the Whitfield County jail facing a murder charge.

Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to Durden’s rural home at 279 Quinn Drive in Rocky Face when Durden’s girlfriend, Alexa Blubaugh, 22, called 911 at about 2:30 a.m. The woman reported the stabbing after Grice, a 28-year-old Walker County resident, tried to drive her away in his pickup truck.

When deputies arrived, Durden still had the knife with a five-inch blade in his hand and had to be told twice to drop it, officials said. After he was handcuffed, he told officials Grice pulled a gun on him, sheriff’s office Capt. Rick Swiney said.

Swiney said investigators found a gun but Durden’s story didn’t seem to add up. Swiney declined to identify the type of gun.

“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,” Swiney said.

On the 911 call recording, Blubaugh tells the operator Durden stabbed Grice while he was still in his Dodge pickup truck. Grice came to the home to give Blubaugh a ride because she wanted to leave.

Maj. John Gibson said investigators discovered through later interviews that Durden was Blubaugh’s current boyfriend and Grice appeared to be a former boyfriend. The details of their relationship aren’t clear. Blubaugh tells the 911 operator she doesn’t know Grice’s last name because they met only a few days ago.

Blubaugh tells the operator Grice tried to drive away after he was stabbed multiple times in the face and stomach area, but he crashed his truck into a tree and slumped over. Early in the call, Blubaugh says she is moving Grice out of the driver’s seat, but even when she takes the wheel, she can’t get the truck back on the road.

Then, in a panic, Blubaugh says Durden is coming back. The operator tells her to lock the doors, which she does, and she explains he’s “just standing there” in front of her. Later, she says Durden walks away, but she grows frantic again when she sees him again smoking a cigarette in the distance.

Meanwhile, the operator instructs Blubaugh to try to slow the bleeding, and Blubaugh, who said she is from Utah, struggles to explain exactly where she is. Shortly before responders arrive, Blubaugh tells the operator Grice stopped breathing.

Toward the end of the call, Blubaugh tells someone on the scene, Grice “has a gun, but it wasn’t for him. He lives on a farm. He showed it to him. He showed it to him because he asked to see it.”

To the 911 operator seconds later, she says, “Jonathan’s trying to tell the cops that he pulled his gun out on Jonathan — but it’s not true!”

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