July 3, 2013

Lawyer: Man charged with murder claims self-defense

Rachel Brown

— The attorney for a Rocky Face man charged with stabbing a man to death who reportedly was trying to give the accused’s girlfriend a ride says his client acted in self-defense.

A Whitfield County grand jury on Monday indicted Jonathan Colby Durden, 22, of 1067 Franklin Hill Road, on two counts of murder, aggravated assault and possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime. District Attorney Bert Poston said even though only one person died, the multiple murder counts are because of technicalities in the law.

Defense attorney Jerry Moncus said Durden plans to plead not guilty at his arraignment before Superior Court Judge Cindy Morris on Tuesday.

“We anticipate defending the case totally and completely,” Moncus said. “He’s adamant about his self-defense actions, and it’s a case we expect to defend in every aspect.”

Poston said he could not comment on evidence in a pending case because of laws and ethics guidelines for prosecutors.

According to 911 recordings and statements from the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to a rural home where Durden was staying at 279 Quinn Drive when Durden’s girlfriend, Alexa Blubaugh, 22, called 911 at about 2:30 a.m. on April 9 and reported a stabbing.

Ricky C. Grice Jr., a 28-year-old Walker County resident, was trying to give Blubaugh a ride so she could leave the residence. Blubaugh told a 911 operator Durden stabbed Grice while Grice was in the driver’s side of his pickup truck. Efforts to reach Blubaugh were unsuccessful.

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.

“We feel like the evidence supports the self-defense, and we’ll be proceeding accordingly,” Moncus said.

Durden remains in the Whitfield County jail without bond.