Judge rules prosecutors can seek death penalty in Gwathney case - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Lori Brown

Judge rules prosecutors can seek death penalty in Gwathney case

Gordon Gwathney in court Monday. Gordon Gwathney in court Monday.

MARIANNA, AR (WMC-TV) - A Marianna man accused of killing three people in 2006 could be put to death if he is convicted of capital murder, a judge ruled Monday.

Gordon Gwathney, 47, showed no emotion Monday as he sat in a Marianna courtroom in front of nearly a dozen people.

Gwathney is accused of killing his mother-in-law, 51-year-old Sylvia Reeves, at her home on Arkansas 261 in Lee County on February 13th, 2006. Also killed at the home were Reeves' parents, 81-year-old J.O. Mitchell and 79-year-old Evelyn Mitchell.

"He just snapped," family friend of Gwathney Pauline Hart said.

Lee County Circuit Judge L.T. Simes ruled Monday prosecutors can seek the death penalty based on previous Supreme Court decisions.

A mental evaluation concluded Gwathney suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome from his experiences while serving in the military in Somolia.  The evaluation stated he was given multiple medications, which could combine to spark an episode of delirium, possibly leading to anger, rage, and violence.

Evaluaters concluded Gwathney did not have the mental ability to realize he was committing a crime.

In court, a mental evaluator said that on the night of the triple murder, Gwathney was obsessed with financial troubles he was having with his wife.

Gwathney claims to remember portions of an argument with her, but nothing after that. The evaluator said Gwathney was tearful while telling the story, and kept repeating, "This is so far from the realm of who I am."

Family members of victim would not comment, and said limits would be placed on courtroom cameras during the testomies of Gwathney's estranged wife and brother.

Trial is scheduled to begin in early May.


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