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Deliberations begin in murder trial

LAWRENCEVILLE -- A prosecutor on Wednesday called Amy Ayer's slaying a classic case of "If I can't have you, nobody will," the culmination of a rocky, three-year relationship wracked with male jealousy.

David Norton's brief murder trial concluded Wednesday afternoon after less than two days of testimony. He chose to not take the stand.

In closing arguments, attorneys on both sides of the case disagreed over Norton's maliciousness when he shot Ayer to death on the eve of Halloween two years ago.

His attorney says the single shot from a sawed-off .20 gauge was accidental.

Prosecutors say it represented a boiling point reached when Ayer grew sick of Norton's abusiveness and asked him to exit her life.

"Finally, Amy had had enough," said Christa Kirk, Assistant District Attorney. "(Norton) didn't like it, he wasn't going to have it, and he wasn't going to go."

Norton gave nine different scenarios in interviews with police as to how the gun could have fired, Kirk said. She insisted -- and indeed demonstrated, with the aide of a gun-sized piece of wood -- that each scenario was unreasonable.

The trajectory of the shotgun shell suggested the gun was held almost straight behind Ayer, Kirk said.

Norton's attorney, John Rutkowski, said Ayer pulled the shotgun on her boyfriend and died in the ensuing struggle. Norton, 41, faces life in prison. He's charged with murder, aggravated assault, arson, weapons possession and concealing his girlfriend's death.

Rutkowski said his client set Ayer's body and bedroom ablaze in an attempt to keep her teenage sons from stumbling upon the scene. Norton later threw the gun in a lake, never to be recovered, the attorney said.

"Did he react appropriately? No," Rutkowski said. "If it was calculated, you'd think he'd come up with a good story. There is no story here."

The state rested its case about 2:15 p.m. Deliberations broke later Wednesday when jurors were dismissed for the night, Kirk said.