District Attorney's Office


  

Conasauga Judicial Circuit of Georgia




   Serving Murray & Whitfield Counties

CLARK CONVICTED OF MURDER, ARMED ROBBERY

February 14, 2019 (Chatsworth) – Anthony James Clark (28), formerly of 117 Downing Street, Dalton, was found guilty today by a Murray County jury in the murder and armed robbery of Stasha Fay Baggett over sixty dollars’ worth of methamphetamines and for the possession of the stolen drugs. Clark was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Jim Wilbanks, who presided over the trial, to serve the remainder of his life in prison without the possibility of parole on the murder charge followed by fifteen years on the drug possession charge. The armed robbery charged merged for sentencing purposes. Clark was also convicted on a second murder case concerning the same victim and on a robbery (non-armed) count but those charges likewise merged for sentencing purposes. Judge Wilbanks was required by law to give Clark life without parole because of Clark’s three prior felony convictions for entering auto, giving false information to law enforcement and possession of methamphetamines with the intent to distribute. Clark also had numerous misdemeanor convictions over the last several years although those were not a factor in sentencing. Clark was represented by Dalton attorney Jerry Moncus, on a conflict appointment from the Public Defender’s Office.

On the evening of February 12, 2019, Clark and co-defendant, Jami Johnson, who testified at trial as a State’s witness, arranged to purchase methamphetamine from Baggett, who was herself an addict struggling with addiction. Prior to arriving at the incident location, Clark and Johnson decided they would take the drugs without paying for them. Clark entered the residence with Baggett and sampled the drugs before returning to Johnson’s vehicle. But after Baggett handed over approximately 3 grams of meth, Clark placed the vehicle in reverse and attempted to leave, spraying Baggett with pepper spray in an effort to get her to let go of the vehicle. As the vehicle backed up at a speed which exceeded 20 miles per hour, Baggett got caught between the driver-side mirror and a tree. The impact broke the mirror from the vehicle and resulted in multiple rib fractures, a broken collar bone and significant lung damage to Baggett. After the collision, Baggett called once for help and then collapsed. The medical examiner testified that her broken ribs “shredded” the upper lobes of her lungs and that she essentially “drowned in her own blood.” Clark immediately left the scene without attempting to aid Baggett. Johnson remained at the scene and cooperated with law enforcement.

The investigation was conducted by the Murray County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from the Georgia Bureau of Investigations and the Georgia State Patrol. The Eton Police Department also responded to the scene off Red Cut Road which is just north of Eton. An off-duty fireman, Austin Payne, lived nearby and was the first person on the scene able to provide emergency medical care to Baggett. While Payne arrived within a minute or two of the incident, he found Baggett already unresponsive, not breathing and with no detectable pulse. He performed CPR until Eton PD arrived moments later with a defibrillator, but Baggett had no heart beat for the defibrillator to detect.

Murder in Georgia can be committed in two different ways. Both are defined in the same statute but are generally distinguished as “malice murder” and “felony murder.” Malice murder occurs when the defendant has an actual or implied intent to kill without justification. Felony murder requires no intent to kill but only an intent to commit a predicate felony offense and the death is caused by that felony being committed. Clark was charged with one count of felony murder predicated on armed robbery and one count of felony murder of the same victim predicated on robbery. The robbery and armed robbery charges differed only in that the pepper spray was alleged to be the offensive weapon in the armed robbery count. Had the jury not determined the pepper spray to meet the legal definition of offensive weapon, they would have still been able to convict on robbery which would have still supported the felony murder charge and resulted in the same sentence in the end. The jury ultimately convicted on all charges but most of them merged into the first felony murder count for sentencing purposes.



Bert Poston
District Attorney
Conasauga Judicial Circuit


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Bert Poston,
District Attorney


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