The trial begins soon for a 46-year-old woman accused of murdering her elderly fiance and living with the body for months afterwards, according to the Gainesville Times.
Tabitha Zeldia Wood was arrested on June 9, 2022, two months after police conducted a welfare check on 82-year-old Leroy Franklin Kramer Jr., discovering his body in the home, the Hall County Sheriff’s Office said last year. Warrants obtained by the Times revealed that Kramer was hit with a blunt object on his chest and neck. An autopsy determined his cause of death to be from blunt force trauma and sharp force trauma.
Wood told police that her fiance had died in the first week of April, and had lived with the body since, the Times says. Hall County Sheriff’s spokesperson B.J. Williams did not elaborate on what specific weapons were used in the homicide, nor did she know details about the couple’s relationship at the time of Wood’s arrest.
A new indictment came down on Feb. 15, 2023, adding a charge of malice murder to the list of charges Wood already faces, the Times reports. She faced original charges of felony murder, aggravated assault, and concealing the death of Kramer. She is also charged with financial card theft, the Times adds.
Malice murder is classified as when one commits murder “unlawfully and with malice aforethought, either express or implied,” according to Georgia code of law. Malice is implied when there is no provocation for the murder and “the circumstances of the killing show an abandoned and malignant heart.”
Georgia law explains that express malice is a “deliberate intention” to take a human life which is “manifested by external circumstances capable of proof.”
According to the Aurora Law Trial Attorneys website, malice murder requires proof that there was intent to kill, whereas a felony murder charge doesn’t require proof of intent to kill.
In body camera footage played by the prosecution in the courtroom, Wood told police she feared making a report about Kramer’s death because she and him had had an argument and she was not in the right frame of mind to discuss what happened when questioned by officers, the Times says.
Kramer’s stepdaughter, Dianne Payne, had requested the welfare check for Kramer after not hearing from him for several months, the Times previously reported. She revealed that Kramer had developed Alzheimer’s Disease, and that his first wife died in 2011 after 21 years of marriage. Payne said her stepfather was a helpful man, and spent his time building things or fixing lawnmowers upon retiring from a career in long-haul truck driving.
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