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Woman's life sentence upheld for killing man having an affair with her husband

The Supreme Court of Georgia has upheld the life sentence of a woman who confessed to killing a man because he was having an affair with her husband.
The Supreme Court of Georgia has upheld the life sentence of a woman who confessed to killing a man because he was having an affair with her husband.
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Jealous that her husband was having an affair with another man, a woman shot the man in the head and, with the help of her husband, dumped his body on the side of a road in Marion County.

Donna Slaughter, who was sentenced to life plus five years in prison, appealed to the state’s highest court to overturn her conviction for the murder. But on Monday the Supreme Court of Georgia unanimously upheld her murder conviction.

The following details were obtained from federal court documents about the crime, which happened in May 2010:

Slaughter, 30 at the time of the crime, lived in a trailer on Palm Drive in rural Mauk, with her then 23-year-old husband, Jason Slaughter. For about a year, 21-year-old Michael Haegele also lived with the couple.

Then on May 7, 2010, a busload of school children spotted a man’s body on the side of Butler Mill Road in Macon County. The victim had been shot in the back of the head, and the words, “Fag,” “KKK,” and “Hell” written on his body.

In an attempt to identify the victim, law enforcement released sketches and limited information. On May 12, Jason Slaughter contacted police and said that he and his wife believed the victim could be their roommate whom they had not seen since May 1.

The couple told police they believed Haegele was gay and a male prostitute, and that he frequently hitchhiked to Columbus. Prosecutors said Slaughter and Haegele had met on line, and Haegele had moved from St. Louis, MO to be with Jason.

Detectives had found notes and letters at Slaughter’s home that depicted a romantic relationship between the two men. Police also recovered a $500,000 insurance policy in Haegele’s name that listed Jason Slaughter as the beneficiary. Prosecutors claimed Slaughter called police in order to identify Haegele’s body or he would not have been able to collect on the insurance.

Jason Slaughter was arrested on May 13 and tried separately from Donna Slaughter who later confessed to the shooting in a videotaped statement. She said she had killed Haegele because she was jealous of his relationship with her husband

She told police that she loaded a gun with one bullet, entered the living room and knelt behind the couch where Haegele was sitting and shot him in the back of the head. She then pushed him to the floor and, with her husband’s help, loaded his body into a large plastic storage container to avoid blood stains.

She told police she hit Haegele’s hands, knees, ankles and back with a hammer to make it appear Haegele had been beaten. And she wrote epithets on his body to deflect from her husband and herself as they were an interracial couple.

When it was dark, the couple loaded the body into their small red pickup and dumped it about 30 miles away on the side of the road near the Marion-Macon county line.

The medical examiner confirmed that the bruises on Haegele’s body could have been caused by a hammer, and the cause of death was a “gunshot wound to the head with perforations of [the] skull and brain.”

On Nov. 1, 2012, a jury convicted Donna Slaughter of malice murder, felony murder based on aggravated assault, concealing the death of another, felony tampering with evidence, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

In her appeal to the state Supreme Court, she argued the evidence was insufficient to convict her.

But in Monday’s opinion, the high court disagreed, finding the evidence “was sufficient for a rational jury to find appellant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crimes for which she was convicted.”