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Woman Guilty of 'Windshield' Murder

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  • Woman Guilty of 'Windshield' Murder

    A former nurse's aide was convicted of murder Thursday for hitting a homeless man with her car and driving home with his mangled body lodged in the windshield.

    Jurors deliberated just 50 minutes in the case of Chante Jawan Mallard, 27, who faces life in prison on the conviction. Mallard looked down and silently cried as the judge read the jury's verdict.

    The sentencing phase was to start later Thursday. Mallard also faces up to 10 years for tampering with evidence, a charge to which she pleaded guilty earlier this week.

    Mallard's legal team never disputed that she killed Gregory Biggs, 37, in the predawn hours of Oct. 26, 2001, after a night of drinking, smoking pot and taking Ecstasy.

    But they said the death was an accident - not murder.

    ''Find her guilty of what she's really guilty of, failure to stop and render aid,'' defense attorney Jeff Kearney said.

    Prosecutors said she should pay the price for taking a man's life and trying to hide it.

    ''She stole his life,'' prosecutor Richard Alpert said, pointing to Mallard as she sat solemnly next to her attorney. ''She stole his hope of anyone else saving his life. That's murder.''

    The defense said it was Mallard's friend, Clete Deneal Jackson, who talked her into dumping Biggs' body and concealing the crime. Biggs' mutilated body was found the next day in a park.

    Prosecutors said Mallard could have stopped for help at a nearby fire or police station or all-night store - or even called her brother, who is a Fort Worth firefighter with medical training.

    They said Mallard, a certified nursing assistant who had worked in retirement homes, didn't check Biggs' pulse or try to stop the bleeding as he groaned and gasped.

    In her statement to police, Mallard said she cried and repeatedly apologized to Biggs as he moaned after she lowered her garage door. She said she was too scared to call for help.

    During the three-day trial, Dr. Nizam Peerwani, the Tarrant County medical examiner who performed the autopsy, testified that Biggs probably lived two hours after being hit and could have survived with medical treatment.

    Biggs, a bricklayer who had been living in a Fort Worth homeless shelter after losing his truck and home nearly two years earlier, bled to death and had his lower left leg nearly amputated by the crash, Peerwani said.

    Biggs' injuries were aggravated when Mallard stopped briefly after hitting him, trying in vain to smash out more of the windshield and remove his bloody body, and when she continued her journey home, Peerwani said.

    Max Courtney, a forensic expert, testified that blood spatters in Mallard's car indicated that Biggs wheezed or coughed and gripped the passenger door pocket.

    But Vincent Di Maio, the Bexar County chief medical examiner who testified for the defense, said Biggs was instantly knocked unconscious and that he probably didn't speak or move inside the car. He was the only defense witness.

    When Biggs' body was found Oct. 27, 2001, in a park, authorities thought he had been hit by a car. But they had no leads until four months later, when one of Mallard's acquaintances called police and said Mallard talked about the incident at a party.

    Officers went to Mallard's house with a search warrant and found the bloodstained, dented car. They also found the passenger seat burned in the back yard.

    Jackson, Mallard's friend, testified that Mallard took him to her garage about six hours after she hit Biggs.

    Jackson said he removed Biggs' body that night and, with the help of his cousin, Herbert Tyrone Cleveland, dumped it in the park. Jackson and Cleveland, in exchange for their testimony, pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence. Jackson received a 10-year sentence; Cleveland, nine years.

    Biggs' son testified that his father took medication for bipolar disorder and mild schizophrenia, and had been on the streets for a few years. The two lost touch about four months before his death.

    ''I would say he was very hardworking,'' said Brandon Biggs, 20. ''He was very friendly, although he didn't have many friends.''

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