Guilty Verdict Eases Mother’s Loss
Zambra George, moments after guilty verdict in the murder of her son, 26-year old Rusty George Jr. (Photo by Al Whitaker, WHNT News 19)
ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) – The mother of a 26-year old murder victim says Friday’s guilty verdict will enable her to put the tragic loss of her son behind her and move on with her life.
Zambra George spoke exclusively with WHNT News 19 following the verdict against 39-year old Keith Daniel George, the victim’s uncle.
“Today, I seen justice being served,” she said. “The one who put my son in the ground…has finally got his justice and he will be serving time where he can’t hurt anybody else’s child.”
Limestone County District Attorney Brian Jones thanked the jury for their service in hearing the four-day case, admitting some of the testimony and evidence was difficult to hear. “The one thing about this case is you’re going to have a gap in time the jury had to look at as to whether he had enough time to cool off after the initial fight, and they’re having to put themselves in that situation – something that happened between two men in 2009. And so that takes a jury time to look at all of that. This particular case had a lot of physical evidence that indicated that there was sufficient time and that this was a murder,” Jones said.
Defense attorney Garry Clem had argued the shooting was self-defense following an altercation between the two men, allegedly over the elder George’s efforts to stop his nephew from leaving a family gathering after he’d been drinking. But prosecutors successfully pointed out the first two shots fired by Keith George, which struck Rusty George Jr. in the leg, would have ended the provocation between the two. Moments later, though, Keith George fired a third and fatal shot into his nephew’s chest.
“I had hoped the jury would have at least considered a verdict of manslaughter, if not self-defense,” Clem said. He added, “The jury has spoken, the system has worked and we have to live with it.”
“It’s not going to bring my son back, but yeah, yeah, it’s closure,” Zambra George said. “You can’t take somebody else’s life and make yourself God and take anybody’s life, and I hope he knows what he took from me. He took my baby. That was the sweetest, most innocent life you could ask for. He loved life, he lived life to the fullest.”
Ms. George says with the guilty verdict, she can begin to put this episode behind her and move forward with her life, which she says has been in pause for the three and a half years since the deadly shooting.
Minutes before the jury announced they had reached a verdict, and during his final moments of freedom, we spoke with Keith George outside the courthouse. He said he was ready for the jury’s verdict, whatever it would be. Although he testified he could not remember firing the third shot at Rusty George, he said he knew in his heart what had happened that night, and hoped his family would one day be at peace.
Following the verdict, George’s bond was revoked and he was remanded into the custody of the sheriff’s department to await sentencing.