Woman Found Guilty in Franklin Co. Murder Trial

By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia

A woman convicted in the stabbing and beating death of an elderly Lavonia man now awaits sentencing.

On Friday, a Franklin County jury found 39-year old Marian Owens guilty of felony murder, malice murder, and two counts of aggravated assault in the death of 71-year old Tommy Cleveland Janes on December 23, 2011.

Owens showed no emotion as Superior Court Judge Jeffery Malcom read the verdict Friday afternoon.

During closing arguments, Northern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Parks White went over the definitions of felony murder, malice murder and aggravated assault, as well as the definition of voluntary manslaughter.

White said it was a clear-cut case pointing to Owens’ own admission on the stand that she stabbed Janes in the back and hit him repeatedly in the head with a nutcracker.

Owens’ attorney, Harvey Wasserman, told the jury his client had “serious, serious mental health problems.”

Wasserman pointed out that Owens, while mentally ill, had never been physically violent before and something must have triggered her violence against Janes.

He said there was enough reasonable doubt to find a verdict of voluntary manslaughter.

However, White said the case about finding the truth and not about finding doubt.

White said he is pleased with the verdict.

“She was evaluated and it was determined she knew right from wrong and did not suffer from the legal definition of insanity at the time of the offense,” White said. “I think the jury came to the right verdict.”

White thanked the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office investigators for their hard work, which he said resulted in Ms. Owens’ conviction.

Meanwhile, Wasserman began his closing arguments by telling the jury the defense he had planned went by the wayside when Owens decided she wanted to testify in her own defense.

Owens took the stand Thursday morning and her testimony continued through most of the afternoon.

Owens told the jury she felt afraid and thought Janes was going to sexually assault her. She also testified she thought Janes had demons and that she had demons.

Wasserman said he was not happy with the jury’s decision, but would accept it.

“Well of course not,” Wasserman said. “I think it was a manslaughter case, but the evidence could in fact have supported the jury’s verdict. That’s the decision they made and I respect it.”

Sentencing for Owens will come at a later date after Judge Malcom reviews the pre-sentencing investigative report.