Georgia Supreme Court upholds Augusta woman's murder conviction

Georgia Supreme Court upholds Augusta woman's murder conviction

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - The Supreme Court of Georgia upheld an Augusta woman's life sentence for the 2011 shooting death of a man in a wheelchair.

Judy Lynn Washington was convicted of murder in January 2012 for shooting and killing Steve Mikel.

Washington claimed she shot Mikel in self-defense, but the jury rejected that theory, and the Supreme Court unanimously upheld that decision.

According to evidence presented in court, the night before the killing, Washington and Mikel got into a heated argument. A witness said that Mikel, a paraplegic who was wheelchair-bound, held Washington in a headlock and hit her repeatedly.

During the assault, Washington threatened Mikel, saying she would shoot him if she had a gun, according to court records.

Early the next morning, July 31, 2011, in the same location, Washington was sitting outside on the porch of a home, socializing with a group of people, when Mikel arrived and approached Washington. He said he wanted to apologize for the night before.

At the same time, he picked up Washington's purse. She told him to put down her purse and said she did not want to talk to him. As he continued holding her purse, witnesses said Washington reached into her shirt, pulled out a .22-caliber gun and fired multiple times at Mikel, who fell out of his wheelchair.

He died from multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen. When Washington was done, she walked away from the scene, according to briefs filed in the case. As she made her way down the street, she threw the revolver in the front yard of a nearby residence.

After canvassing the area and speaking to witnesses, police found Washington a short time later and arrested her for murder.

At her trial in January 2012, Washington's attorney claimed the shooting was in self-defense. The attorney told the jury that no one had come to Washington's aid the night before when Mikel had been beating her, and when he refused to put down her purse, Washington was afraid he was going to repeat the violence.

The jury rejected the defense and convicted Washington of murder, aggravated battery and weapons charges. Washington was sentenced to life plus five years in prison. She then appealed to the state Supreme Court, arguing the evidence was insufficient to convict her.

However, the Supreme Court Justice Harold Melton said in an opinion Monday that "the evidence was ample to enable the jury to find Washington guilty of all the crimes for which she had been charged. The jury was authorized to reject the claim of self-defense and conclude that Washington shot Mikel repeatedly without provocation."

Copyright 2014 WFXG. All rights reserved.