Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

April 19, 2013

Judge asked to commit man charged in boy’s killing

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — A Georgia man charged with molesting a 6-year-old boy before choking him to death in 2007 should be committed to a state mental hospital, prosecutors and defense attorneys told a judge Thursday after experts testified the suspect would probably never be fit to stand trial.

George Edenfield, 37, could spend the rest of his life in inpatient treatment at a state hospital if Superior Court Judge Stephen Scarlett gives the order to commit him. The judge asked attorneys Thursday to draft an order for him to sign next week. Once committed, Edenfield would have his case reviewed each year but could only be released by a court.

Lawyers on both sides agreed with two psychologists that six years of treatment has failed to make Edenfield competent to stand trial for murder, child molestation and other crimes in the March 2007 slaying of Christopher Michael Barrios, a Brunswick kindergartener. Prosecutors who once intended to seek the death penalty conceded it’s now unlikely that he will ever face a jury.

“The state has pushed its case as far as we can. We obviously wanted to go to trial,” District Attorney Jackie Johnson said after the hearing. “Based on six years of evaluations, we have no reason to believe his status is going to change.”

Christopher went missing March 8, 2007, from the Brunswick mobile home park where he lived. His body was found a week later by a roadside, wrapped in trash bags.

Prosecutors say George Edenfield, a neighbor, lured the boy into the mobile home he shared with his parents. The suspect’s father later, David Edenfield, confessed in a videotaped police interview that he and his son took turns molesting Christopher while his wife, Peggy, watched. He said the boy pleaded with them to stop and threatened to tell his father and grandmother, prompting George Edenfield to begin choking the boy.

David Edenfield told police he placed his own hands on top of his son’s as Christopher choked to death. A jury convicted David Edenfield and sentenced him to death in 2009. Peggy Edenfield pleaded guilty to charges in the case and is serving a 60-year prison sentence.

The joint request to have George Edenfield committed to a mental hospital infuriated the slain boy’s grandmother, Sue Rodriguez. She stormed out of the courtroom Thursday in the middle of the hearing.

“Where’s the justice? Where is it?” Rodriguez said outside the courthouse. “Play like you’re crazy, baby, and you’ll go to a mental institution.”

But experts who evaluated George Edenfield in person and reviewed his history said he’s mentally incapable of understanding the seriousness of the charges he faces or even what roles the judge, attorneys and jury would play at his trial.

Psychologist Karen Bailey-Smith said Edenfield suffered an abusive childhood and tests have consistently shown he’s impaired by mild to moderate mental retardation. In conversation, she said, he was often childlike and was prone to give different answers to the same questions if she changed her expression or tone of voice. Bailey-Smith said she asked Edenfield if he understood the death penalty.

“He said, ‘Well, I could get an injection and they’ll put me to sleep,”’ Bailey-Smith said, adding that she asked Edenfield how long he would sleep and he replied: “For a long, long time. Maybe the rest of my life.”

Psychologist Greg Cox performed Edenfield’s latest mental evaluation, interviewing him at the Glynn County jail earlier this month. He testified that he slipped in a test used to detect people who are faking mental incompetence and concluded Edenfield wasn’t pretending.

Cox said Edenfield told him he looked forward to going to trial so he could return to the mental hospital. He said Edenfield told him: “I won the egg-decorating contest and won a coloring book. I can color better than I can draw.”

Both psychologists testified they concluded Edenfield lacked the ability to make crucial decisions to help his attorney at a trial, such as whether to testify in his own defense.

“Would it be fair to say it is high unlikely this is going to get any better?” Gerald Word, Edenfield’s defense attorney, asked Cox.

The psychologist said he agreed.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 142314-Goodwill.jpg Goodwill hosts the Mexican Consulate

    Mexican citizens living in South Georgia have spent this week lining up at the Valdosta Goodwill to meet with the Mexican Consulate to obtain Mexican government issued identification.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140723-Tree001.jpg Chamber plants 100th centennial tree

    Founded in September 1912, the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest chambers in the state.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140723 - Operation M#10E3C7.JPG Veterans First

    With Moody Air Force Base expecting to lose 300 to 400 personnel due to government cutbacks, area organizations are working with military personnel about to enter the civilian work force.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Lowndes increases millage rate

    For the first time since 1999, the Lowndes County Commission voted Wednesday to increase the millage rate.

    July 24, 2014

  • dui memorial 1.jpg Memorial honors woman killed in DUI case

    More than a week after the man responsible for her death was sentenced to five years in jail, a memorial sign has been placed at the site where Sheila Foster-Lamb was hit and killed by an impaired driver while she was on her way to work.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • City of Valdosta holds two millage hearings today

    The City of Valdosta adopted its 2015 Fiscal Year budget on June 19.

    July 24, 2014

  • Quitman body identified

    The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has identified the body of a man found in Quitman Tuesday and have ruled his death a suicide.

    July 24, 2014

  • EOM July 2014.jpg Sgt. Jonathan Yeargin Honored as July 2014 Employee of the Month

    Valdosta Mayor John Gayle and Fire Chief Freddie Broome honored Jonathan Yeargin as the July 2014 Employee of the Month at the July 10 City Council meeting.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Clay Griner.jpeg Griner wins Lowndes commission runoff

    A long nine-week runoff election between Clay Griner and G. Norman Bennett came to an end Tuesday night with Griner beating Bennett by 1,060 votes, with approximately 70 provisional ballots left to count.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140722-Runoff_Voting003.jpg State Senate District 8 too close to call

    The race for State Senate District 8 appeared too close to call as of The Times print deadline late Tuesday night.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

School starts again in about two weeks. What do you think?

It's still summer. School starts too soon.
Seems like the right time to return.
Abolish summer recess. Make school year-round.
     View Results