The Supreme Court of Georgia upheld the murder conviction and death sentence of a Lumpkin County man who strangled his former girlfriend in 2001.
The unanimous decision came down Monday to deny the alleged 11 errors brought by Steven Frederick Spears’ legal counsel, which related to juror selection, comments by the prosecutor, sentencing and other issues.
Spears was convicted in March 2007 on charges of murder, kidnapping and burglary of his ex-girlfriend Sherri Holland.
Holland and Spears dated for three years and had broken up months before the murder.
Spears confessed to the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office, according to the opinion, admitting he had planned four different methods to kill Holland. The plans included electrocution, bludgeoning, shooting or strangling, according to the opinion.
“Considering both the crimes and the defendant, we conclude that the death sentence in Spears’s case is not disproportionate punishment within the meaning of Georgia law,” according to the opinion.
The court’s opinion did, however, send the case regarding the burglary charges back to the trial court, saying the two charges should not have been merged since he actually entered the home twice.
“The trial court is directed to enter a sentence on the second of those burglary counts,” the opinion reads.
Spears told the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office he broke in through a vent in the crawl space of Holland’s home and hid in her son’s closet. When Holland returned home, the two struggled and “he strangled her for five to 10 minutes,” according to the opinion’s summary.
Holland was discovered dead Aug. 26, 2001.
“He said he stole her car, purse and money, then drove to Cornelia where he bought supplies, including red spray paint to cover the distinctive black stripes of her Camaro,” according to the opinion’s summary.
The car was found at Belton Bridge Park near Lula two days after Holland was discovered.