A jury Thursday evening returned a verdict on eight counts in the murder trial of Herbert Drews.
Deliberations began before 3 p.m. for the jury in Superior Court Judge Carey Nelson’s courtroom. At 6 p.m. the jury returned, finding Drews guilty of two counts of malice murder, two counts of felony murder, aggravated battery on a person over the age of 65, aggravated battery, aggravated assault on a person over age 65 and aggravated assault.
Drews was charged in the stabbing death of James David Ayers, 70, on Feb. 5, 2012. Ayers was stabbed nine times and died later from complications of sharp-force injuries.
During the incident, Troyce Warren also was stabbed in a struggle with Drews at the 1834-B Joe Frank Harris Parkway residence.
Thursday morning Drews took the stand in his defense, testifying that he was attacked when he confronted Warren about his living at the residence.
Drews testified that he drank a half a pint of rum and two 1-ounce bottles of Wild Turkey liquor that Sunday evening before going to the Cartersville residence where he had once lived to retrieve his dog and a coat.
Medical personnel testified this week Drews’ blood alcohol content was .225, which he said Thursday sounded correct. He said he was not “drunk” but admitted he was “feeling good.”
When he arrived at the home, Drews said he realized Warren was living there, which angered him because he and Ayers had agreed that Warren would not be allowed to move in. According to his testimony, he confronted Warren in Warren’s bedroom but did not give the man a chance to respond before he walked off.
“I saw Troyce get up off the bed,” Drews said. “That’s when he said, ‘What are you going to do about it, [expletive]?’”
He testified he doesn’t remember if he made it into the house before Warren jumped him from behind and proceeded to beat him unconscious.
“I don’t have any memory until I came to being beaten,” he said.
Drews also testified that the suspected murder weapon — a belt buckle knife — belonged to him.
“I’ve seen that knife before,” Drews said. “That used to be my knife. It was a belt buckle knife, belonged to a light tan, leather belt. … It was mine until about two or three weeks before this happened.”
According to Drews, the knife had been in a vehicle that two of the residents at Ayers’ home had taken but was not broken the last time he saw it. He also said he had “no recollection” of seeing the knife the night Ayers was stabbed.
Prosecutor Janna Allen asked Drews if he knew how Warren was stabbed.
“I have not a clue how Troyce got stabbed,” he said.
He also said he had no idea how Ayers was stabbed.
“Did you do it?” Allen asked.
“No, ma’am,” Drews answered.
The final witness, Deborah Coffman, testified before lunch.
According to Coffman, she was home in a neighboring residence about 10:30 p.m. when a female resident came to the door, visibly upset.
“She knocked on the door … I knew she was upset, wringing her hands,” Coffman testified, “and she said, ‘Oh my god, Debbie, Drew has stabbed Lucky.’”
Following the verdict, the defense opted for immediate sentencing, foregoing a pre-sentence investigation on the aggravated assault and aggravated battery charges.
Nelson sentenced Drews to life in prison without parole and 20 years on the aggravated battery count to run consecutive to the life sentence.