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Sentence upheld for woman who beat stepdaughter to death

7:13 AM, Mar 18, 2013   |    comments
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STOCKBRIDGE, Ga. -- The Supreme Court of Georgia has upheld the conviction and life prison sentence for a woman who beat her 11-year-old stepdaughter to death in 2003.

Charlott Lynett Reaves' sentence was upheld Monday. Reaves had appealed the conviction, saying she was illegally questioned by police after she asked for a lawyer.

According to information presented in court, the victim, Joella Reaves, was found dead in her bed on Dec. 1, 2003. The Henry County Medical Examiner determined Joella died from trauma; her body had numerous injuries, including a black eye, scratches on her back, and bruises on her forehead, wrists and legs.

When questioned by police, Charlott Reaves said she helped her husband, Rodney Reaves, restrain Joella, paddle her and hog-tie her with speaker wire. She denied killing the little girl.

Rodney and Charlott Reaves were each indicted for murder, aggravated battery and cruelty to children, and were given life prison sentences.

Rodney Reaves also appealed his sentence; his conviction was upheld on Mar. 4, 2013.

In Monday's opinion, a Georgia Supreme Court Justice wrote, "Although (Charlott) Reaves does not dispute that the evidence is sufficient to sustain her conviction, we have independently reviewed the evidence, and we conclude that it was sufficient to authorize a rational trier of fact to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Reaves was guilty of the murder of Joella."

"A close examination of Reaves' references to a lawyer shows a 'pattern of equivocation' on her part ... such 'that a reasonable officer would have understood only that (she) might want an attorney present, not that (s)he was clearly invoking (her) right to deal with the officer only through counsel,'" the opinion says.

The opinion also shows that Reaves was read her Miranda rights before questioning.

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