By Joe Johnson
A Clarke County jury on Friday acquitted an Athens woman of murder for the shooting death of her boyfriend over three years ago.
Following a trial in Superior Court, jurors found Anna Gatlin Petree not guilty of malice and felony murder in the shooting death of 43-year-old Justin David "Jud" Beebe.
In her first criminal trial as a prosecutor, District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez reportedly tried to prove that as a motive for killing Beebe, Petree stood to gain from an insurance policy.
However, the prosecution was unable to get the insurance policy before the jury due to judge ruling that the proper foundation for its introduction to the trial as evidence had not been laid.
Beebe’s death had initially been ruled a suicide on Sept. 18, 2019, when he was found dead from a gunshot wound in the home he shared with Petree on Crows Nest Court.
Athens-Clarke County police said they arrested the 34-year-old Petree for her boyfriend’s murder in August 2021, after detectives reexamined the evidence in the case, they concluded that Beebe’s fatal injury had not been self-inflicted.
Speaking at the time of Petree’s arrest, ACCPD Lt. Shaun Barnett said, “In the almost two years since this incident, detectives thoroughly looked into every aspect of the investigation such as the scene itself, the autopsy medical records, and countless other pieces of pertinent evidence...this death was reported to ACCPD as a suicide. However, the totality of the evidence suggests that the victim was intentionally shot by Ms. Petree.”