BRUNSWICK - Tears were shed in the witness stand and the jury box Wednesday as family and friends of two slain Cobb County real estate agents bared their grief, still raw after nearly four years, to jurors weighing the death penalty for the women's killer.
Several jurors wiped their eyes and noses with tissues as a dozen of the victims' loved ones - parents, siblings, friends, a husband and a fiance - remembered Cyndi Williams, 33, and Lori Brown, 21, and described lives shattered by their murders.
Williams' husband cried as he told the jury he remains 'functionally depressed' since his wife's death. Ted Williams said he's become withdrawn and thinks about quitting his job and moving, but can't decide.
'I catch myself during the day thinking, 'Wait until Cyndi hears about this,' or I hear something and imagine her laughing,' he said, sobbing. 'All I want is to have her back, but that's never going to happen.'
The jury convicted Stacey Ian Humphreys, 34, of malice murder Tuesday. The 10 women and two men must now decide if Humphreys will be sentenced to life in prison or death by lethal injection.
Prosecutors say Humphreys staked out the women at their sales office in a Powder Springs subdivison north of Atlanta. Humphreys used a handgun to force them to strip naked and give him the access codes to their bank cards before he shot them both in the back of the head.
Prosecutors said Humphreys needed money to make a $565 payment on his Dodge Durango truck.
'It's going to be an easy decision for you to make that this case is eligible for the death penalty,' prosecutor Marc Cella told jurors as the sentencing phase of Humphreys' trial began Wednesday.
Defense attorney Jimmy Berry told jurors that experts who have studied Humphreys' family, school and medical histories will testify they believe Humphreys suffers from Asperger's syndrome - a form of autism.
'This is not an excuse for what he did,' Berry said. 'We ask you to hear both sides before you render a decision.'
Superior Court Judge Dorothy Robinson moved the trial from Cobb County to coastal Brunswick, more than 300 miles away, because of pretrial publicity.
Brown's family described her as an ambitious but giving young woman who got her real-estate license when she was 18 years old. Before she was killed, Brown had set a September 2004 wedding date to marry boyfriend Johnnie Tuggle.
Tuggle, whose father died and mother left him as a child, wept as he told jurors how Brown had made him feel a part of her own family.
Her older brother, Wayne Brown Jr., remembered how his sister had cleaned his house, done the laundry and had a cake waiting when he and his wife returned home with their newborn son two months before she was killed.
Brown's mother, Linda Brown, said her daughter seemed much older than her 21 years.
'I miss this child so much, some days I feel like this is a dream and she's still here,' Linda Brown said. 'I feel like I'm in a maze and can't get out. But I keep running and looking for Lori, hoping she'll be there.'
Williams' family recalled her bright smile and infectious laugh, a personality that made selling homes come naturally.
George Marks, Williams' father, said he can't erase the image of seeing his daughter's body at the funeral home in 2003, and the toll that death had taken on her 'beautiful face.'
Williams' older sister, Teri Marks-Brunner, trembled and could barely speak as she recalled the irony of how she would always seek her younger sister's advice. She wept as she recalled having to tell her 3-year-old daughter, whom Williams doted on, that her aunt was dead.
'Our family has a hole in it, a large hole that no one can ever fill,' Marks-Brunner said. 'My mom ... cannot bear to walk into Cyn and Ted's home, because emotionally it's too much to bear.'