Accused bush-ax killer Michael Curry's defense claims neighbor could have killed family

tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.comApril 7, 2011 

Defense attorneys for accused bush-ax killer Michael Curry are claiming a neighbor may have killed Curry’s pregnant wife and two children on Aug. 29, 1985.

Curry’s lead attorney, public defender Bob Wadkins, writes in a motion filed today that Paul Edward Grable, who at the time was living across from the Currys’ 5433 Rockhurst Drive home, broke into the house and sexually assaulted a girl living there on Jan. 23, 1989, after Michael Curry moved away.

Wadkins claims District Attorney Julia Slater has only circumstantial evidence that Curry killed his wife and children, so if the defense can show that someone else had the impetus and opportunity to slaughter the family, that’s enough to cast reasonable doubt Curry committed the crimes.

“The prosecutor’s case is entirely circumstantial and therefore falls under the rule of law that, to warrant conviction on circumstantial evidence, the proven facts must not only be consistent with the theory of guilt but must also exclude every other reasonable theory other than the guilt of the accused,” Wadkins writes.

He cites multiple circumstances from Grable’s offenses that he says are similar to the Curry case. Besides Grable’s crime occurring at the same Rockhurst Drive address in the 1980s, Grable assaulted a young female while no males were home; he attacked her after having had some contact with the victim; he forced his way into the home; and he had a deadly weapon.

Not only was Grable in 1990 convicted of burglary, aggravated assault and aggravated sodomy for his Columbus crimes, he on Dec. 31, 1999, committed a similar offense in Harris County, Wadkins writes.

In that case Grable again broke into a family home and assaulted a female with whom he’d previously had some contact, Wadkins says. Again, no males were home at the time, which in 2000 resulted in Grable’s being convicted of burglary, simple battery and attempted rape, the defense attorney says.

Wadkins has requested Superior Court Judge John Allen hold a Tuesday hearing on his motion, which in part states: “There is no obligation on the defendant to prove a third party committed the crime in this case. Rather, the defendant must only raise an inference which would tend to exonerate the defendant.”

A Ledger-Enquirer search of online records indicates Grable is 45 today and would have been 19 in August 1985 when Curry reported finding his 24-year-old wife Ann, 4-year-old daughter Erika and 20-month-old son Ryan hacked to death in the family’s home.

Grable then lived with his parents at 5428 Rockhurst Drive, just across the street, and to the Grables’ home Curry ran screaming that his whole family had been killed. That occurred between 5:30 and 6 p.m., after Curry got home from work. The Grables called police.

Detectives questioned Curry for hours that night, but released him without charge. Based on evidence compiled by cold-case investigators, a Muscogee grand jury indicted Curry on multiple counts of murder in May 2009 before authorities arrested him in Dalton, Ga., where he had moved since the killings. Curry since has been held in the Muscogee County Jail. His trial is set for April 18.

Because Allen previously issued a gag order in the case, attorneys, investigators and others involved in it are not at liberty to comment on it publicly.

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