Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

October 4, 2012

Luberda found guilty after 3 day trial

VALDOSTA — While hushed voices whispered of the possibility of a mistrial as the murder trial moved into a third day Wednesday morning in Superior Court, the jury found Wayne Luberda guilty on all counts regarding the murder of his wife Maria at their Wilkerson Avenue residence in October of 2011.

Wayne Dean Luberda was convicted of malice murder, concealing the death of another and tampering with evidence.

Luberda and his attorney rose in anticipation of the verdict. But after Luberda’s conviction was announced, he simply shut his eyes and hung his head.

While most of the jury appeared to be at ease as the honorable Judge Richard Cowart polled them each on their verdicts, a few jurors appeared slightly unsettled. However, each juror restated his or her verdict before the public with confidence and conviction.

On Oct. 7, 2011, Luberda was convicted of striking his wife Maria with a blunt object, fragmenting the back of her skull into five large shards. He wrapped her head in a garbage bag, her body in bedding, and concealed her in a closet for several days.

While Luberda testified that he had only pushed his wife during a heated dispute, the medical examiner who oversaw Maria’s autopsy stated that it was next to impossible to inflict such damage from a push. With over 2,700 autopsies under her belt, she stated that the wounds were synonymous with receiving a gunshot wound or falling from at least two stories.

“If she had fallen and struck her head on a counter, you’d see a laceration of the scalp -- but not that large,” said the witness as she referred to an image of Maria’s lifted scalp. “You’d see a linear fracture, and the skull fragments wouldn’t have penetrated the dura mater of her brain.”

It would have to have been a heavy object, said the witness.

No heavy object was found at the couple’s residence, but several days had elapsed between Maria’s murder and discovery. Luberda was arrested in his car, and detectives were unable to find the clothes that he said he was wearing during the altercation with his wife.

District Attorney David Miller commended the Valdosta Police Department in their transparency. He said he and his staff were allowed to observe the scene shortly after Maria’s body was discovered and the scene was secured.

“Investigators provide us with videos and reports in every case we take up,” said Miller. “But being there on the scene, in 3D so to say, helps us tremendously in building our cases and proving them beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Miller stated that he was highly appreciative of the job that Assistant District Attorney Tracy Chapman and the police department did in prosecuting the case. And he said his entire office thanks the jury for their attentiveness in weighing this case.

In Georgia, the minimum sentence for malice murder [O.C.G.A. 16-5-1] is life imprisonment. Conviction of concealing a death [O.C.G.A. 16-10-31] and tampering with evidence [O.C.G.A. 16-10-94] each carry minimum sentences of a year and imprisonment and a maximum of ten years plus fines.

A pre-sentence hearing will be held on Nov. 16, 2012 at the Lowndes County Courtroom Annex.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 140415-water003.jpg Sewage problems persist

    Early Tuesday morning, Valdosta became saturated when the area received approximately three inches of rain from 4 a.m. to noon. As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, 11 manholes throughout the City of Valdosta have spilled 286,500 gallons of wastewater into local waterways, and this number will continue to rise.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • vsuopera1dido.jpg Operatic Conclusion

    When the curtain lowers this weekend on Valdosta State University Opera’s performance of Henry Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas,” it will not only mark the end of the music group’s season.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘If I Were Mayor’ contest essays

    If I were mayor, I would do all that I possibly can to make the city of Valdosta marvelous, but I cannot do it on my own. Some things in Valdosta I feel it is necessary to focus on would be our literacy rate, unemployment rate, crime history, and our environment.

    April 16, 2014

  • APTOPIX Boston Marath_Stew.jpg Solemn tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing

    Survivors, first responders and relatives of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing marked the anniversary Tuesday with tributes that combined sorrow over the loss of innocent victims with pride over the city’s resilience in the face of a terror attack.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140414-valdostaboe001 copy.jpg Valdosta Board of Education reviews finances

    Valdosta City Schools Board of Education celebrated many successes Monday night, discussed budget information and heard an announcement of intent from a hopeful charter school.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • dancing with the stars copy.jpg Dancing with Valdosta Stars raises scholarship money

    Valdosta State University Music and Theatre & Dance’s Third Annual Dancing with the Stars of Valdosta presented a fine dance show this past weekend.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • N0041120.jpg Passover: A nation reborn

    “And you shall tell your children that on that day the Lord has took you out from the house of bondage.” — The Passover Hagadah

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140414-DFCS001.jpg Luncheon recognizes DFACS employees

    Dozens of Lowndes County Division of Family and Children Services employees gathered Monday at Olympic Park for a barbecue lunch in recognition of their hard work.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140414-Sewage002.jpg Fla. calls for Valdosta boycott

    Florida residents are calling for a boycott of Valdosta regarding the sewage spills, with areas affected downstream increasingly distressed over the millions of gallons that have polluted the waters of the Withlacoochee and the Suwannee River Basin during the last several years.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • police-lights-backgrounds-for-powerpoint.jpg ‘Dangerous’ fugitive caught

    A fugitive from Ohio wanted for attempted murder and a number of assault and robbery charges was captured by Valdosta police Saturday.

    April 14, 2014 2 Photos

Top News
Poll

What you think about school and workplace rules about Facebook friends?

There have to be rules.
No need for rules, just use common sense.
If people want to be friends, what is the big deal?
Nobody uses Facebook anymore.
     View Results