published Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Woman’s trial in slaying delayed

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    Rita Spurgeon, 50, is charged with the murder of her husband.

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The trial for a Whitfield County, Ga., woman accused of shooting her husband in the head as he slept was again postponed this week.

Police charged Rita Spurgeon, 50, with murder last June after her husband, Audie, was found dead in his bed.

Her trial was postponed this week, after Conasauga Judicial Circuit District Attorney Kermit McManus asked the court for an extension.

McManus said he received a 34-person witness list from the defense a week before the trial and he didn’t have time to prepare.

The trial was moved to Sept. 26.

This is the second time the trial has been continued. In February, Public Defender Mike McCarthy asked for more time to get the results back on Spurgeon’s psychological test.

Results showed that Spurgeon wasn’t insane at the time of the crime and also show that she is competent to stand trial, McManus said.

McCarthy said the test showed Spurgeon may still have some mental problems, but he declined to comment on the specifics.

“Mrs. Spurgeon wasn’t aware of what was going on,” he said. “She certainly didn’t intend to shoot or kill Audie.”

Many witnesses on the defense’s lengthy list are medical professionals, including doctors, nurses and physician’s assistants, and McCarthy said they would testify about Spurgeon’s mental records.

McCarthy said the defense will continue with its not guilty plea.

Spurgeon remains in Whitfield County Jail after she was denied bond.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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