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Defense rests in trial of woman accused of killing fiance, living with body for months
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Tabitha Wood takes the stand in Hall County Superior Court Wednesday, March 15, 2023, during her murder trial. Wood is accused of killing her 82-year-old fiancé Leroy Franklin Kramer Jr. and the living with the body for months. - photo by Scott Rogers

Previous story: The prosecution grilled Tabitha Wood on text messages sent in the weeks after Leroy Kramer's death, showing she impersonated him and pretended he was still alive.

Wood spent more than three hours on the stand combined between Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.

She detailed for the jury Wednesday how Kramer was alive when she ran out of the house in early April after a fight. Wood testified Wednesday that she returned to the home and slept next to him for three days before facing the reality that Kramer was dead.

Law enforcement believes Kramer died in early April, but his body was not discovered until June 7. The indictment stated Kramer died from a traumatic injury to his neck and chest.

In a limited fashion, Wood testified about other women whom Wood claimed were abused by Kramer by his own admission.

In the defense’s filings regarding self-defense, the attorneys claimed there was admissible evidence about Kramer’s alleged character for violence.

“Such evidence would also be for the purpose of motive to control females, which goes toward the defendant’s self-defense justification as the evidence corroborates Leroy Kramer’s motive to control and abuse women in domestic violence situations, which is exactly what he did to the defendant,” according to the defense’s notice.

On cross-examination, Assistant District Attorney Harold Buckler walked Wood through her text messages sent in the weeks after Kramer died.

Wood said she lied about Kramer being alive to a friend she owed money to “keep him away until I could get the money back to pay him.”

In the weeks after Kramer died, Wood represented herself over text message as facing continual beatings and abuse from her 82-year-old fiance. 

Some of the messages mirror the story she told the jury in terms of the injuries she suffered the night of the fatal fight.

Even though the texts were lies, Wood later testified she was trying to “get what was really going on with me out” regarding the alleged abuse from Kramer.

One of the texts Buckler showed included the phrase putting a “can of whoop-ass on him” but that she did not care to because “I know I would hurt him.”

Wood's responses took a circuitous route. When asked if she caused Kramer's fatal injuries, Wood repeated that she might have blacked out and was unsure.

“How would you know if you blacked out?” Buckler asked. “How would you know if you were defending yourself and not just beating an 82-year-old man to death?”

Wood responded saying she knew what provoked the situation and that she was not going to take another beating.

Her fear was the main reason she gave for not telling any of Kramer's family inquiring about his whereabouts.

“You said you wanted your story to be told,” Buckler said.

“This is a judging world,” Wood said. “Everybody judges everyone.”

When asked about not telling the detectives the truth and saying it was a suicide, Wood said it was because local law enforcement is "crooked" and wouldn't listen to her.

On June 7, Wood sent a text message to a family member referencing how she was in the back of the police car and “ugly really committed suicide.”

Wood said she did not refer to Kramer as “ugly” and that she uses the voice-to-text function

“I was trying to say something ugly really, really had happened,” she testified. “I believe I was trying to say Leroy committed suicide.”

She repeatedly told the jury she was either scared or in a bad mental state.

The defense rested shortly after 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Superior Court Judge Lindsay Burton instructed the jury to return at 9 a.m. Friday for closing arguments.

One juror did not show up for court at 10 a.m. Thursday. Court officials called the juror multiple times to no avail. An alternate juror will take their place.