Cop killer's aunt has outburst inside courtroom - CBS46 News

Cop killer's aunt has outburst inside courtroom

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Juanita Graves, an aunt of the defendant, lost control while testifying Juanita Graves, an aunt of the defendant, lost control while testifying
DEKALB COUNTY, GA (CBS46) -

Jurors in the death penalty trial of a convicted cop killer likely won't see the kind of drama in the courtroom Thursday that they saw on Wednesday.

The defendant's aunt appeared to have an emotional breakdown on the witness stand as she asked the jurors to spare the life of her nephew William Woodard.

A defense attorney asked the aunt, Juanita Graves, "Do you love William?"

"Yes sir," Graves said tearfully. She then paused for a few seconds and began screaming and swatting at the podium's microphone.

The judge sent jurors into the jury room as deputies escorted Graves out of the courtroom.

The outburst might have been an unexpected plus for the defense, which is trying to elicit sympathy from the jury for Woodard, 31.  The same jury convicted Woodard last week of murder for the deaths of DeKalb County police officers Ricky Bryant and Eric Barker.

Defense experts testified that Woodard grew up in a family plagued with mental illness, paranoia and neglect. His mother was a prostitute, the experts said.

"Emily was a horrible, horrible, horrible parent," said defense investigator Ann Crail. "(She was) neglectful. She was not a nurturer at all."

Violence was a way of life for Woodard, the experts testified.

Emily Guiterrez is Woodard's mother. He lived with her and his grandmother off and on while growing up.

"He lived with mental illness, retardation; alcohol abuse and considerable neglect all of his life," said social worker Marjorie Hammock.

For that reason Woodard's family said they hope the jury finds compassion when they sentence him.

"I just want you'll to spare his life. He does not deserve to die. It does not take a life for a life," said Woodard's cousin.

"He's not an animal. I beg and plead that you guys spare his life. Myself and my family are sorry for the officer's lives that have been taken," said Woodard's aunt Suzie Graves.

On Thursday, jurors will hear closing arguments from both sides. The defense is asking for life in prison. Prosecutors are asking that he be put to death.

Check back with www.CBSAtlanta.com for updates.

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