LOGAN — At the end of the day the verdict was guilty, not of first degree murder, but voluntary manslaughter. The verdict came after a long day of activities in the courtroom.
Judge Roger Perry’s first action was to rule on a motion for judgment of acquittal submitted by defense attorney Brian Abraham.
Abraham argued Mrs. Godby had a weapon (beer bottle) and Mr. Godby told law enforcement it was self defense and the only evidence the state had was Mr. Godby’s statement.
Judge Perry ruled the state had submitted sufficient evidence for the case to move forward and denied the motion.
Just as it took less than an hour for law enforcement to arrest Jerry Godby and charge him in the death of his wife, the defense took less than an hour to present its case Thurs. morning.
Abraham called Boone County Deputy Jeff Robinette as the defense’s first witness. Dep. Robinette worked in Logan County and answered a call for a welfare check at the Godby residence on April 17, 2011.
Robinette testified he saw bruises on Mr. Godby’s arms when he arrived at the residence and said Mrs. Godby was asleep. When asked by Mr. Randolph, Robinette said he saw no beautiful shiner and no indication he had been sprayed in the face with over cleaner.
Private Investigator Gary Hylton testified he was engaged by Mr. Abraham to take photos of injuries Mr. Godby allegedly sustained in the altercation on May 17, 2011.
Most of the photos were much like those previously submitted showing bruising and lacerations on Mr. Godby’s forearms, a laceration on his lip, and bruising on the side of his face. The difference was Mr. Godby had no shirt on, which allowed for a view of injuries including an abrasion on his neck, behind his ear, a bruise on his torso and a scratch on the left side of his back.
The next two witnesses were Leah Godby Worley and Judy Godby Mullins Neal.
Leah Worley is the defendant’s daughter. She testified she called 911 on April 17, 2011. Worley said Delores Godby had called to talk to her mother (Mr. Godby’s first wife) and she intercepted the call. She spoke with her father and he told her he was all right, then Mrs. Godby took the phone from him and she could hear her father calling out, “help me, she’s spraying floor cleaner in my face.” Ms. Worley said she hung up and called 911.
Mr. Abraham asked about Ms. Worley’s parents’ relationship and she told the court they had been divorced since 2010 and had no ongiong relationship.
Judy Neal is the defendant’s sister. She testified her brother and his wife lived with her several months after their marriage. She said she had to pull Mrs. Godby off of her brother on numerous occasions and told of one incident that occurred after Mr. Godby told his daughter Leah he would come over to visit his grandchildren on Sunday. Neal said Mrs. Godby “tore out” of the bedroom saying “take me home,” then hit, kicked, scratched and kicked Mr. Godby’s cane and caused him to fall. She said he had her grandson take Mrs. Godby to Godby Heights.
When Mr. Randolph questioned Ms. Neal, she told him she had never called 911 or took him for medical attention or examination.
The defense’s final witness was Corporal Burley Ferrell. Abraham went over the timeline of events on May 17, 2011. He remarked law enforcement was at the Godby residence and returned to Chapmanville Town Hall in 54 minutes according to 911 logs. He asked Ferrell to confirm the times indicating law enforcement decided to arrest Mr. Godby within 20 minutes, despite his claim of self defense, which he did.
After Ferrell’s testimony, the defense rested it’s case.
The jury was removed from the courtroom in order for the defense to submit another motion for a judgment of acquittal.
After leaving the courtroom to consider the motion, Judge Perry denied the motion saying the jury would act on the case.
Once the jury returned to the courtroom, Judge Perry read them extensive instructions, including explanations of the possible verdicts they could return in the case. The jury retired to the jury room around noon to begin deliberations.
Shortly after they entered the jury room, they requested to listen to the recording of Mr. Godby’s interview the night of May 17, 2011, and they were provided with equipment and the recording.
At about 2 p.m., they requested Judge Perry read them their instructions again. They were brought into the courtroom and the judge complied with their request.
At 4:45 p.m., the jury sent a note they were unable to reach agreement on a verdict. Judge Perry had them come back into the courtroom and said he would ask them a question and they could go back into the jury room to discuss the question and determine the answer. His question was: “Do you feel you can arrive at a verdict after further deliberations either tonight or in the morning?
The jury was in the jury room about 15 minutes when they notified the court they had reached a verdict.
They were brought back into the courtroom and the verdict was read. Mr. Godby was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter. Judge Perry polled the jury; each confirmed it was their verdict. Voluntary Manslaughter is the felonious, unlawful and intentional taking of another person’s life but without premeditation, deliberation or malice.
The family of Delores Godby was tearful after hearing the verdict. Godby’s niece Nikki Thomas said the family was satisfied with the outcome of the trial.
Judge Perry thanked the jury for their service and instructed them to call in on Friday for further instructions.