Conviction upheld in '09 elderly beating death - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Conviction upheld in '09 elderly beating death

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Brother Larry Hample is never far from the face of long time volunteer Mabel Berry.  A picture of the 88-year-old murder victim hangs in the chapel of the Albany Rescue Mission.

"That came as a shock. I mean we couldn't hardly believe it," said Hample, who serves as director of the mission.

It was May 9th, 2009, a Sunday, when Berry's severely beaten body was found under a sheet in the backyard of her West Highland Avenue home.

"No human being should have to suffer the kind of death that she suffered. And for what? For helping someone?," asked Hample.

The woman who made a life's work helping women get their lives on the right track received a visit from one of them, now 37-year-old Tiffany Wise.

It was in Berry's backyard where prosecutors say Wise repeatedly struck the 88-year-old in the head with a rock and a glass bowl. Berry managed to get up and stumble to her back door when Wise then blindfolded her and struck her head again several times, this time with a concrete block.

"When I speak of this, I am talking about the crack cocaine, it seems to have a such a hold on people that it changes their personality," said Hample.

Wise, who had recently gotten a job, was high on crack when she killed Berry and in 2010 was sentenced to life without parole.

Her defense attorneys argued to the Georgia Supreme Court that hearsay evidence was presented by a police officer who testified at trial. But the justices ruled that to be insufficient and unanimously upheld the conviction.

In the high court's decision, Justice David Nahmias wrote the evidence was sufficient to authorize a rational jury to find Wise guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Wise admitted to investigators in detail that she killed Berry and confessed to leaving her home that day wearing her victim's house coat.

That confession was videotaped and played for jurors. She's serving that life sentence now in Arrendale State Prison

"She was dedicated though. I imagine if she was here today she would so, Don't weep for me," Hample said.

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