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Southwest Georgia man convicted in neighbor’s killing

June 26, 2021 GMT

LEESBURG, Ga. (AP) — A southwest Georgia man has been convicted of murder, although a jury didn’t convict him of the most serious charge after the defendant testified he didn’t mean to kill his neighbor.

WALB-TV reports 23-year-old Matthew Hunter was found guilty Friday of felony murder, but not malice murder, by a Lee County jury in the 2020 death of 51-year-old Jeffrey Potter. Jurors can’t convict someone of malice murder unless they find a killing was intentional.

Testimony in the four-day trial showed Potter came to Hunter’s Leesburg house and argued with Hunter over money Potter provided to Hunter when Hunter was jailed. After Hunter repeatedly asked Potter to leave, witness Steven Dollar said Hunter grabbed a rifle and the two fought. Dollar said he saw Hunter hit Potter with the butt of the gun, swinging it like a golf club.

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Hunter testified Thursday, saying Potter repeatedly molested him when Hunter was younger. Prosecutors questioned the claim.

Hunter said he grabbed the rifle only to scare Potter. He testified he lost his grip, which is when it hit Potter.

Hunter said he then dragged Potter back to Potter’s house and kicked him in the face multiple times when Potter cursed and started to get up.

Emergency workers found Potter unconscious in his driveway. Potter lingered in a coma for 28 days until his ventilator was removed.