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Man given life in jail in Walmart parking lot killing

Chad Dunn

Chad Dunn

LAWRENCEVILLE -- A Braselton man was sentenced to life in prison Thursday after a jury found him guilty of killing his estranged wife.

After two hours of deliberation, Phillip Chad Dunn was convicted of malice murder, aggravated assault and two counts of cruelty to children for stabbing Shelley Dunn, 27, several times in the back during a custody swap in a Suwanee Walmart parking lot on Valentine's day in 2010.

His four-day trial in Gwinnett County Superior Court featured testimony from Dunn and his two daughters, ages 7 and 9, who witnessed the attack.

"I think it was definitely a tragic case," said Assistant District Attorney Christa Kirk, who prosecuted the case. "The girls were 6 and 8 at the time, they were there at the Walmart location when Chad murdered Shelley."

"I think that brings an element of emotion to a trial that you don't always have."

The incident stemmed from Dunn's frustration upon finding out that his wife -- who had moved out in the weeks prior, after her husband was arrested for attempting to strangle her -- was seeing another man.

His oldest daughter testified that Chad Dunn told her "he was going to kill mommy 'cause she killed him on the inside" earlier that day.

Defense attorney Wynstan Getz, conceding that his client had killed his wife in opening statements, had asked the jury to consider a charge of voluntary manslaughter, which carries a penalty of 20 years in prison.

Instead, Dunn now faces a life sentence in addition to 20 years incarceration for the previous aggravated assault charge and 24 more months for third-degree child cruelty, Kirk said.