GRAY -- On a September day in 1977, two Macon men went to Thelma Kalishs house on Jackson Springs Road in east Macons Shirley Hills neighborhood to do yard work.
But before the day was over, they had raped 67-year-old Kalish, forced her to drive to a bank, and taken Kalish and a close friend out to a secluded area of Jones County where they beat the women to death with a piece of lumber from a deer stand.
Eddie William Finney and Johnny Mack Westbrook were sentenced to death later that year, and again in the 1980s after appeals caused the cases to be retried.
Westbrook, who was 40 at the time of the slayings, died on death row before execution.
Finney, who was 20 at the time of the crime, was resentenced Friday to three consecutive life sentences after a judge ruled he is mentally disabled.
In 1977, there was no law prohibiting the execution of a mentally disabled person. The law was changed 11 years later.
Like most other death row inmates, Finney appealed his case to multiple courts in the years after his conviction. In 1990, a judge sent Finneys case back to Jones County for a judge to determine whether Finney had a mental disability.
Although New York attorney George Kendall said hes worked on Finneys case for three decades, the issue didnt make it to court for consideration until Friday.
After hearing arguments Friday morning by prosecutors and Finneys lawyer, Judge William A. Prior Jr. ruled Finney, now 56, is mentally disabled and added two consecutive life sentences to his current life sentence for kidnapping the two women.
Speaking during the hearing, Ocmulgee Circuit District Attorney Fred Bright said, Ive read a lot of brutal cases ... this is the (most brutal) Ive ever seen.
Please dont kill us
At some point while Finney and Westbrook were in Kalishs yard on Sept. 23, 1977, Kalish went into the yard to talk with the men, and they held her at gunpoint.
The men took her back into the house, tied her to a bed and raped her, Joe Briley, the former district attorney who prosecuted the case, said during Fridays hearing.
At about 12:15 p.m., Finney and Westbrook forced the disheveled woman to drive them to the Gray Highway branch of Macon Savings and Loan, where she withdrew $600 using the drive-thru window.
After returning to Kalishs house, Kalish tried to escape and ran screaming toward her the house where 65-year-old Ann Kaplan lived. Kaplan left a pot of beans on the stove and came to her aid, but Finney and Westbrook captured them and put them in Kalishs green Pontiac Catalina for what became a one-way trip to Jones County.
The men took Kalish and Kaplan to a secluded, wooded area about a half mile off Ga. 11 beside an abandoned logging road. Briley said Finney was familiar with the area because it was near County Line Bar, a place where he had previously worked near the Jones County-Jasper County line.
In the woods, Finney and Westbrook tied the women to trees, with their hands behind their backs, using cloth torn from Kaplans apron.
Using a 2-by-4 from a nearby deer stand, they beat Kalish and Kaplan to death.
Finneys taped statement to police was played for jurors during his first trial.
They kept saying, Please dont kill us, please dont kill us, Finney was recorded as saying.
During Westbrooks trial, jurors heard Westbrooks voice on a recording saying he wanted to leave the women tied in the woods, but Finney insisted that they be killed, saying, We cant leave no evidence.
Kalishs car was later found abandoned under a bridge in Macon. Crime scene experts later testified that blood found in the car belonged to both women.
Police arrested Finney after his fingerprints were discovered on a glass in Kalishs bathroom.
Once in custody, he led police to the womens bodies.
Kalish and Kaplan had been dead for three days.
A mental disability
During Fridays hearing, Bright said prosecutors dont contest that Finney is mentally disabled.
Finney showed signs of mental disability when he was as young as 7 and attended special education classes in school, Bright said.
When examined by a state forensic psychologist this year, Finney was diagnosed as being mildly mentally disabled and as having an antisocial personality disorder. He has the intellectual function of a 6- or 7-year-old, Bright said.
Kendall argued that Finney has never been a leader in anything in his life because of his disability. He said Westbrook was the mastermind of the killing and although Finney accepts responsibility for his actions, his criminal culpability shouldnt be the same as Westbrooks.
Prosecutors argued that Finney, who was originally sentenced to life on two kidnapping charges, should receive another two consecutive life sentences.
Eddie William Finney should never breathe free air again, Bright said.
Kendall argued that sentence would be too harsh and asked the judge to allow Finney to serve the life terms simultaneously.
Finney sat quietly during the entire hearing.
Dressed in a blue and white state prison uniform, he stood to hear his sentence before being led back to his home behind bars.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.