July 10, 2013

Man accused of murder back in court Friday

Rachel Brown

— A Rocky Face man who is claiming self-defense in the stabbing death of a man who came to his house is scheduled back in Whitfield County Superior Court on Friday for arraignment.

Jonathan Colby Durden, 22, of 1067 Franklin Hill Road, was charged April 9 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 for incidents in the death of 28-year-old Walker County resident Ricky C. Grice Jr.

According to 911 recordings and statements from the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to 279 Quinn Drive, a rural home where Durden was staying, when Durden’s girlfriend called 911 at about 2:30 a.m. on April 9 and reported a stabbing.

Grice was trying to give the woman a ride so she could leave the residence, officials said. The girlfriend told a 911 operator Durden stabbed Grice while Grice was in the driver’s side of his pickup truck.

When deputies arrived, Durden still had a knife with a five-inch blade in his hand. At least once, he told officers he used it in self-defense after Grice pulled a gun on him. Investigators found a gun in the truck, but they said it was placed behind the seat where Grice couldn’t have easily retrieved it.

Defense attorney Jerry Moncus said he strongly believes the evidence that will come out in court supports Durden’s self-defense argument.

District Attorney Bert Poston said Durden was indicted twice last week because “there was an issue” with the first indictment, which will be dismissed. Judge Cindy Morris on Tuesday granted a motion to quash the first indictment, which was on the same charges as the one that stands. Poston didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking clarification on the problem with the original indictment.