A Clayton County woman has been convicted of orchestrating the 2011 murder of her mother.
Kajule “Beauty” Harvey was found guilty Friday afternoon of murder and 19 other charges including aggravated assault and false imprisonment, for the part she played in the brutal beating death of Alena Marie Marble.
Prosecutors said Harvey conspired with her boyfriend Latoris Grovner to “get rid of” Marble and take her money.
“That’s what happens when you’re a cold, calculating mastermind who plans the kidnapping plot along with your boyfriend to kill your mother because you’re greedy,” Clayton County deputy chief Katie Powers said after the trial.
Harvey’s attorney, during closing statements Friday morning, painted his client as anything but a threat.
“She’s a meek person … a follower,” defense attorney Lloyd Matthews said of his client. “She’s not one to plan an elaborate, Byzantine plot.”
Grovner was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in January after admitting to police that he beat Marble with a vodka bottle, then a sauce pan – caving in the side of her face and knocking out all of her teeth – before putting the 59-year-old into the trunk of her own car and parking the car under the hot June sun.
Both Harvey and Grovner went to banks and ATMs several times after Marble was put in the trunk, prosecutors said. They took her bank card from her purse to withdraw money from the mother’s account.
Grovener was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Harvey, 23, faces life in prison, plus additional years.
Prosecutors say, based upon the police interview Grovner gave after his arrest in June 2011, the couple planned to kill Marble and take her money, because Marble disapproved of and blocked their relationship.
Harvey lived with Marble, and left the door open the night of June 3, 2011, so that Grovner could get into the house.
“This was a planned ambush,” Powers said. “Who else knew Alena was asleep? She called and said, ‘she’s asleep. Come on in’.”
Harvey was originally indicted with Grovner on a single murder charge. When jurors convicted Grovner of voluntary manslaughter – a charge suggesting he acted in the heat of passion – prosecutors drew up a new indictment against Harvey.
In addition to murder, the new charges included kidnapping, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, evidence tampering, concealing a death, burglary, false imprisonment, hindering apprehension, robbery and financial transaction card theft charges in connection with Marble’s death.
Prosecutors also charged her with one count of felony murder – causing a death during the commission of a felony – for each of eight of the felony charges.
Jurors found her guilty of all counts except the kidnapping and related felony murder charge. Jurors deliberated for three hours Friday afternoon before returning a verdict.
Harvey took to the witness stand Thursday to make her case.
“I didn’t hear anything,” she told a jury.
Harvey’s attorney on Friday reemphasized her case during closing statements.
“Maybe it’s possible we’re speculating that my client is guilty,” Matthews told the jury. “It hasn’t been proven that my client knew about the 2011 killing or that Latoris Grovner put the body in the trunk of her car.”
Harvey told the jury that while she may have been disrespectful to her mother, she harbored no ill will toward Marble.
“I argued with my mother every month about money,” she said. “But I would have gone with my mother” to her grave.
Matthews pointed to Grovner’s conviction and his client’s demeanor when denying that Harvey was responsible for her mother’s death.
“The evidence has all the markings of a violent, impulsive act by Mr. Grovner,” he said. “This was a solo job that was Latoris Grovner’s handiwork.”
But Powers challenged the story that Harvey slept through the beating, despite testimony from her 4-year-old daughter who said she heard Marble screaming and rushed to Harvey’s side.
“Sleeping Beauty in this case is a fairy tale and a lie,” Powers told the jury. “Either you buy that she slept through one of the most horrendous beatings, or you find her guilty.”
Harvey will be sentenced on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.