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Conviction, life sentence upheld in Target murder case

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Joanna Hayes listens as her attorney speaks Wednesday morning just before opening statements were given in the Target murder case involving her daughter-in-law.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Joanna Hayes listens as her attorney speaks Wednesday morning just before opening statements were given in the Target murder case involving her daughter-in-law.

ATLANTA -- The Georgia Supreme Court has upheld the conviction and life sentence of the woman who murdered her daughter-in-law outside a Snellville Target store.

In May 2011, a Gwinnett County jury convicted Joanna Hayes on charges including malice murder, felony murder and aggravated assault, finding her guilty of shooting and killing Heather Strube, her estranged daughter-in-law, in the Target parking lot on April 26, 2009. Donning a wig and mustache as a disguise, Hayes reportedly walked up to Strube during what was supposed to be a custody exchange with Hayes' son, put a gun to her forehead and killed her.

Hayes reportedly told investigators that her daughter-in-law wasn't "good enough to raise her grandchild."

In her appeal to the state's highest court, Hayes argued that "witnesses for the state were influenced by news coverage; that the images captured by surveillance cameras were unclear; that the fellow prisoners who testified against her were unreliable; and that the state only presented circumstantial evidence against her, which did not exclude all reasonable hypotheses except that of her guilt," a court spokeswoman said.

The court denied the appeal unanimously.

Justice P. Harris Hines wrote in Monday's opinion that "it is for the jury of to resolve conflicts in the evidence and questions of witness credibility, not this Court. The issues Hayes raises go to the weight of the evidence and, properly viewed, the evidence authorized the jury to find Hayes guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crimes for which she was convicted."