Testimony in the penalty phase of a convicted cop killer resumed Tuesday in a DeKalb County courtroom.
William Woodard was convicted last week in the murders of Eric Barker and Ricky Bryant Jr. Woodard claimed he shot them in self-defense after the officers confronted him at an apartment complex where they were working off-duty security jobs in 2008.
Bryant's widow, LaToya, wept quietly as she took the stand and described the pain and anguish she's suffered since her husband's murder in January 2008. She recalled the school and sporting events, father-daughter dances, and holidays her three children have been forced to celebrate without their father.
The jury listened closely as the widow read her victim impact statement. Hers was the first of many the jury of seven men and five women heard as they determine whether the 34-year-old convicted felon should be sentenced to death the fatal shootings.
The jury also heard from the mothers of the two officers, as well as aunts, sisters, and relatives.
But the tone of witness testimony changed dramatically Tuesday afternoon when the defense called a clinical psychologist to the stand.
Dr. Robert Shaffer says Woodard's mental state of mind has been marred by a lifelong exposure to abuse, violent crime, prostitution and neglect at the hands of his own mother. He believes signs of schizophrenia and other disorders evolved from his childhood trauma.
"William was present when a very good friend of his was shot through the head and died right in front of William. He was present with a knife cut open another woman," said Shaffer.
Defense attorney Bill Morrison said that Woodard's exposure to violence is not an excuse for his behavior. Morrison said that he wants the jury to consider Woodard's life experience as they decide his punishment.
The sentencing phase will continue on Wednesday morning.