The two Columbus men involved in a fight last week that left one dead from a cinder-block blow to the head and the other charged with murder each had been involved in a relationship with the other’s ex-wife, and had an “ongoing feud,” Recorder’s Court testimony showed Wednesday.
After a 45-minute hearing, Columbus Recorder’s Court Judge Michael Cielinski denied bond for Bobby L. Guthrie, 37, charged in the death of Kenneth Heath.
Heath died from injuries sustained in a fight in which the combatants reportedly used a broken cinder block and a shovel. Cielinski sent the case to Superior Court, where a bond could be set. Guthrie remains in the Muscogee County jail.
Detective Joby Duncan told Cielinski the two men had a history: “This had been an ongoing feud for several years,” Duncan said.
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Witnesses testified that Heath was involved with Guthrie’s ex-wife, Melinda Herring, and was at her house on Fourth Avenue Thursday afternoon when the fight started. At some point Guthrie had been involved with Heath’s ex-wife, Duncan said.
Family members from both sides filled the courtroom Wednesday, prompting increased security.Among those who witnessed the fight were the victim’s brother, Jackie Heath, and his cousin, Benny Heath, both of whom testified.
Guthrie, in his jail uniform and slippers, did not speak Wednesday, but sometimes nodded or shook his head as others testified. Earlier Guthrie told police that he was surrounded by Kenneth Heath and three others when he fought back with the broken cinder block.
Jackie Heath, who had come to Herring’s house when called by his brother, disputed that.
“I tried to talk to him (Guthrie), and he punched me in the mouth,” Jackie Heath said.
Duncan said Guthrie broke a cinder block in half and ran toward Jackie Heath and Kenneth Heath: “According to Jackie Heath, it happened so fast all his brother had time to do was turn his head to keep from being hit in the face,” Duncan said.
Duncan said witnesses gave conflicting accounts of whether the cinder block was in Guthrie’s hand when it hit Kenneth Heath, or whether Guthrie threw it.
Duncan said Kenneth Heath had a shovel that he swung at Guthrie, who had leg injuries apparently caused by such blows. Jackie Heath denied that his brother hit Guthrie with a shovel.
Kenneth Heath was taken to The Medical Center, where he died Saturday afternoon. Guthrie intially was arrested Friday on an aggravated assault charge. After Kenneth Heath died, Guthrie also was charged with murder, simple battery and violating parole.