Police called to murder victim's home days before killing (May 27, 2010)
Daughters arrested in Conyers murder case (May 21, 2010)
Conyers murder victim mourned, funeral set for Monday (January 29, 2010)
Homicide victim's name released (January 14, 2010)
Dead body found in Bridle Ridge Walk subdivision (January 13, 2010)
Jasmiyah Whitehead, one of the 16-year-old twins charged with beating and stabbing their mother Jarmecca "Nikki" Whitehead to death in January, was denied bond by Judge David Irwin in Rockdale County Superior Court Monday morning.
In the courtroom packed with relatives and family friends, Jasmiyah was brought out in handcuffs and jumpsuit and showed little reaction throughout the bond hearing, despite graphic descriptions of the crime scene and what had allegedly occurred there, according to relatives in the room.
Nikki Whitehead, 34, was found stabbed to death on January 13 at 2020 Appaloosa Way in the gated Bridle Ridge subdivision, off of Dogwood Drive. Whitehead had reportedly been stabbed numerous times, and there were signs of a struggle, with chairs turned over, the carpet stained with blood, her face broken and her body found in the bathtub.
Jasmiyah and her sister Tasmiyah had come out of the house screaming around 3 p.m. and flagged down a deputy who happened to be in the neighborhood. They told the deputy that they had found their mother's body when they returned home from school. The girls were placed by the Department of Family and Children's Services in homes in Stone Mountain and Clarkston until they were arrested on May 21 and charged with murder and assault.
At the bond hearing, Rockdale County District Attorney Richard Read argued that Jasmiyah would be a flight risk and a continuing danger to the community if she were released on bond.
"We felt like bond should be denied, given the nature and circumstances of the offenses and prior juvenile contacts Jasmiyah had in Rockdale County," said Read, after the hearing.
The girls, who are being tried as adults, had also faced charges in juvenile court for other incidents. About two years ago, they had reportedly assaulted and jumped on Whitehead, after which they were sent to live with their great-grandmother. The twins' behavior and performance had not improved under their great-grandmother's care and custody was given back to their mother around the beginning of the year.
Defense attorney Dwight Thomas argued that Jasmiyah would not be a flight risk if she were released.
"She has remained in the jurisdiction since the incident in January. She did not try to leave the state of Georgia. She did not try to leave the jurisdiction," said Thomas, in an interview after the hearing.
Thomas pointed out that the case was based on circumstantial evidence. He also said that his client had been the victim of a violent act as well in that same house in the Bridle Ridge subdivision. Three years ago Jasmiyah had reported that she had been allegedly raped by a stranger that came to the door. The case had been investigated but no arrests had been made.
Thomas also called two people to the stand to testify: the twins' great-grandmother, Della Frazier, 76, who had previously had custody of the twins before they were sent back to their mother in January, and Carla Webster, a relative who had taken care of Jasmiyah after the murder. Thomas said it was likely that Jasmiyah would have been placed with Webster were she to be released on bond.
They described the girls as gifted and talented honor roll students that won awards and loved being in the ROTC.
Frazier reportedly testified that she raised Whitehead, her granddaughter, for a number of years, while Whitehead's mother dealt with substance abuse issues, and that Whitehead had also struggled with substance abuse issues as well.
Read questioned Frazier about her felony conviction related to a financial transaction, said a family friend. He depicted the girls as out of control, doing what they wanted, under Frazier's care and breaking court appointed guidelines under Webster's care, according to the friend.
Attorney David LaMalva has been appointed by the courts to represent Tasmiyah Whitehead, due to a reported conflict of interest for the Public Defender's office, which had been involved with the twins' juvenile court charges.
No bond hearing application for Tasmiyah had been filed as of Monday afternoon.