ATLANTA — The Georgia Supreme Court has unanimously upheld the life sentence of Phillip Chad Dunn, who stabbed his wife to death in front of a Suwanee Walmart — and the couple’s children — on Valentine’s Day 2010.
In June 2011, a Gwinnett jury convicted Dunn of malice murder and two counts of third-degree child cruelty, finding that he had indeed stabbed wife Shelley Dunn three times in the back during an altercation outside the Walmart store. The couple’s two daughters, ages 7 and 9, witnessed the crime.
The older child testified that her father had told her earlier that day he would “kill mommy” because she had “killed him on the inside.”
Dunn appealed the life sentence administered, arguing that the trial court improperly admitted evidence of an incident two weeks prior to the murder, in which he pleaded guilty to choking Shelley “after she admitted she had developed feelings for another man.”
The appeal also argued that the court had improperly excluded evidence of his Shelley Dunn’s blood-alcohol content at the time of her death, “which would have bolstered his assertion that her drunken aggression provided the provocation necessary to reduce the murder charge to voluntary manslaughter.”
Not so, the state’s high court argued.
In the opinion released Monday, Justice Robert Benham said the admission of the previous incident was acceptable, and that the blood-alcohol level was irrelevant.
“In the absence of evidence of the effect the victim’s alcohol consumption had on her behavior on the day she was stabbed,” Benham wrote, “the trial court properly excluded evidence of the victim’s alcohol use.”