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Lindale murder case ends with life sentence for Gardhigh

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As she read a letter in court Thursday, Lucy Grady turned her head and looked directly at the man who was found guilty of beating her husband to death over a dispute over a paycheck.

Corey Demarcus Gardhigh looked right back at her as she said his claims of not intending to kill Paul Anthony Grady during a fight Dec. 28, 2016, which left him with fatal blunt force trauma injuries, was “only his ego trying to get out of trouble.”

“He chose to leave Paul to die. He chose to murder,” she said during Gardhigh’s sentencing hearing. “Please show the defendant the lack of mercy he showed Paul.”

Before handing down a sentence, Floyd County Superior Court Judge Billy Sparks said it was courageous of Paul Grady’s wife and two of his daughters to speak before the court. But a sentence “can’t turn back the clock,” Sparks said, and victim impact statements are not the sole consideration in making such a determination.

“This is not a court of vengeance,” he said. “This is a court of justice.”

Sparks then sentenced the 32-year-old Gardhigh, of Cedartown, to life in prison on a felony murder charge plus 12 months on a misdemeanor third-degree cruelty to children charge.

Gardhigh had worked for Paul Grady, a painting contractor, at the time of the fight. Police say he argued with Paul Grady over money and then attacked him while Gardhigh’s mother and his son were in the car outside of Paul Grady’s home at 15 S. Central Ave. in Lindale.

Charges of voluntary manslaughter, aggravated battery — what he was originally charged with prior to the murder charge being filed after Paul Grady died at Floyd Medical Center on Jan. 4, 2017 — and aggravated assault were merged with the murder charge.

During a January trial the jury downgraded a malice murder charge to voluntary manslaughter. The primary point of arguments Thursday were separate charges indicating an intent to kill on one hand and no intent to kill on the other.

Though there is not much supporting case law to sentence on the murder charge, Sparks said, the judge decided aggravated battery — which has a malice component — predicated the murder charge.

Assistant District Attorney Luke Martin sought a sentence of life without parole on the murder charge, which the manslaughter charge would be merged into.

Defense attorney Durante Partridge argued the case evidence supported the charge of voluntary manslaughter and that it does not merge with the murder charge. He sought for his client to be sentenced on the manslaughter charge, a lesser offense.

Gardhigh addressed the court saying he knew he will be punished for his actions but he asked for a second chance.

“Had cooler heads prevailed this could have been avoided,” said Partridge.