Lawrenceville woman convicted in husband's murder

A Gwinnett jury convicted a Lawrenceville woman Thursday night of killing her husband.

Ashley Schutt was sentenced to life plus 20 years.

Schutt testified Wednesday that she didn't plan to kill her husband the night of July 25, 2009. She was planning to divorce him to end a marriage she said had become frightfully abusive.

Schutt, whose murder trial in Gwinnett County began April 25, testified that Greg Schutt started screaming at her for leaving the stove on at their house in Lawrenceville when she went outside to walk their dog. She feared the 6-foot-5-inch-tall man who weighed 269 pounds was about to beat her, like she claimed he had done so many times before.

"I looked at him and told him, ‘Go ahead and hit me,' " Schutt told the jury softly, haltingly. " ‘It will be the last time you ever lay your hands on me.' "

That's when Schutt said she told her husband she was leaving him. She shrugged off his protests and went to bed.

Schutt gave the following account, spelling out how she says she killed her husband in self-defense.

She woke during the night to find her husband on top of her, suffocating her with his weight. She blacked out and woke again to find him pinning her down, using a sex toy on her. She got an arm free and reached for a hammer hidden under her pillow. Schutt said a few months prior, her husband held her down on the bed and choked her until she passed out. It was the first time she ever feared he would kill her. Since then, she kept a hammer concealed under her pillow in case he tried it again.

On this night, Schutt said she whacked him on the head with the hammer, disorienting him. She then picked up the 8-inch knife he had deposited on the bed and tried to walk out of the room. She made it only a few steps into the hallway when he grabbed her from behind and spun her.

Schutt said she stabbed him then with the blade one time because he "more or less walked into it."

Schutt said the remainder of the fight was a dizzying blur that moved from the hallway to the bed and finally to the floor. He refused to let go and she struggled to get away, stabbing him multiple times in the process. Finally, she grabbed the hammer and bashed him over the head, Schutt said.

Prosecutors say Schutt lied on the witness stand like she lied to police the morning after the killing. Schutt initially told police that three intruders broke into her home, killed her husband and sexually assaulted her.

Assistant District Attorney Tana Brackin also questioned why Schutt never made an outcry about spousal abuse during approximately 50 visits to clinics between 2005 and 2009 for an array of medical problems including migraines, chest pains, constipation, nausea and an ear infection. Schutt testified that at least eight of those visits were for injuries from being beaten by her husband, a former Army officer who worked as a veterinary technician.

Prosecutors said a large quantity of sleeping pills found in Greg Schutt's system indicate Schutt drugged her husband before stabbing him repeatedly and bludgeoning him with a hammer.

Defense attorney Thomas Clegg said Greg Schutt took the pills in a last-ditch suicide attempt. He had repeatedly threatened in the past to kill his wife and then himself if she ever left him, Clegg said. Greg Schutt even sent an e-mail to his wife the night of the slaying, saying, "I always said if you left I'd kill us both, I guess I'll just have to be enough." Clegg theorized that Greg Schutt must have sent the note after his wife went to bed but before their confrontation.