A woman accused of killing and dismembering her husband in 2005 no longer faces the death penalty if convicted.
Crystal Mae Wagner, 29, waived her right to a jury trial at a hearing Thursday in Bibb County Superior Court, choosing instead to have a judge determine her guilt or innocence.
In exchange for Wagner’s waiver, the district attorney’s office agreed not to seek the death penalty.
“If she had not agreed to try the case non-jury, we would not have taken death off the table,” Bibb County District Attorney Howard Simms said.
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Simms said prosecutors talked with the victim’s family prior to agreeing to take the death penalty off the table.
“This was their preferred result. They want it over,” he said. “This is what they want.”
Franklin J. Hogue, one of Wagner’s lawyers, said he suggested Wagner waive her right to a jury trial because it was the best legal strategy as her trial date neared.
“It’s the best move for her because the death penalty gets removed from the playing field,” he said.
The case will be heard by Chief Judge Martha Christian in March. Christian will be the sole person to decide whether to convict Wagner. If she’s found guilty, Christian will determine her sentence.
Hogue said he trusts Christian to hear the evidence and issue an impartial verdict.
“I think we have a very fair-minded judge,” he said.
Wagner still faces possible penalties of life in prison or life in prison without parole if she’s convicted, Hogue said.
“The stakes are still very high,” he said.
Wagner is charged with killing Bobby Gene Wagner on Feb. 9, 2005. She is being held at the Bibb County jail without bond.
Shay Alan Morey, 29, was sentenced to life in prison in 2006 after pleading guilty to killing Bobby Wagner and dismembering him in a motel bathtub. Under a plea deal, Morey is not eligible for parole.
Morey has alleged that Crystal Wagner was involved in “virtually every stage of the crime.”
Authorities have said Bobby Wagner was stabbed in the heart in a Bibb County motel room where he lived with Crystal Wagner, their then 2-year-old son and Morey. At some point, his body was dismembered, bagged, dumped and partially burned in a wooded area off Ga. 18 in Twiggs County.
Information from The Telegraph’s archives was used is this report.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.