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Trial opens with testimony from victim's daughters

Chad Dunn

Chad Dunn

LAWRENCEVILLE — With teddy bears in tow and crayons aplenty, Chad Dunn’s two young daughters took the witness stand Tuesday and implicated him as the man who fatally stabbed their mother in a vicious public attack last year.

Dunn’s murder trial opened with back-to-back testimony from his girls, ages 7 and 9, who told jurors their dad killed his estranged wife, Shelley Dunn, 27, during a custody swap in a Suwanee Walmart parking lot on Valentine’s Day.

Both girls wore dresses and lugged stuffed animals, their hair gathered in neat buns. They illustrated they knew the difference between truth and lies via a quiz by Assistant District Attorney Christa Kirk on the color of Crayons. In matter-of-fact responses, both vividly recalled what they said they’d seen and heard that day.

“He hurt her ... with a knife ... in the back,” the younger girl testified of her father.

Recalling earlier events that day at Chad Dunn’s mother’s house, the elder girl testified that her father said “he was going to kill mommy ‘cause she killed him on the inside” during a phone conversation.

Chad Dunn’s mother, Susan Dunn, who has since died, drove him and his daughters to the meeting point in his Chevrolet truck. There, the older girl testified, he pulled a kitchen knife and asked his wife, “Who’s this Travis guy?”

Shelley Dunn merely shrugged, and cried, “No, Chad, no,” as he attacked her, the girl testified.

The Daily Post is withholding the children’s identities because they are technically listed as victims. In addition to murder and aggravated assault charges, Dunn is accused of third-degree child cruelty for killing the girl’s mother in plain view of his daughters.

Tall and lanky, Dunn wore pleated olive khakis without a belt and a sleeveless button-down shirt, cocking his head and appearing to weep at first sight of his youngest daughter, the first witness. In off-the-record whispers, he’d forewarned his attorney, Wystan Getz, that he would cry.

Getz conceded in opening statements that his client killed Shelley Dunn, but placed blame on a sudden rage incited by finding out his wife had been seeing another man. Getz foreshadowed his stance that Chad Dunn committed the lesser crime of voluntary manslaughter, not murder.

“In this case, what you have to pay attention to, is what was going on in his head,” Getz urged jurors.

Kirk, the prosecutor, painted the killing as a more calculated attack.

Shelley Dunn died shortly after the altercation at Gwinnett Medical Center. She’d been stabbed thrice in the back. A family member later told the Daily Post Shelley’s father gained custody of the girls.

Chad Dunn, 29, stabbed himself in the chest, causing minor injuries, police said at the time.

Tuesday’s final witness, Conyers resident Hugh Porter, was filling up at the Walmart gas station when he saw what looked like “a playful commotion” — two Valentines apparently kidding around between the truck and Shelley Dunn’s SUV.

“When I heard (the girls) scream a little louder, it got to me,” said Porter, who rushed to intervene with another male bystander.

Porter said Chad Dunn was bleeding down his abdomen and fell limp to the asphalt. His wife, meanwhile, gasped for air, bleeding heavily from her back.

As police arrived, Porter testified, the girls asked for their “daddy” and Chad Dunn pleaded for his girls. Porter told both parties the other was going to be all right.