ATLANTA – An elderly woman convicted of killing her 85-year-old ex-boyfriend because she thought he was seeing another woman was granted a new trial Friday, more than two years after she was sentenced to life in prison.
A jury convicted Lena Driskell of killing Herman Winslow in 2005 at the Atlanta assisted living home where they had both lived, but her new attorneys argued that her defense team was ineffective.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville agreed, saying Driskell's previous lawyers didn't object to key testimony and didn't press for a charge of manslaughter, which carries a lesser sentence.
Police said Driskell, who was 78 at the time, was enraged that her yearlong relationship with Winslow had ended and that he was seeing another woman. Dressed in a hairnet, bathrobe and slippers, she confronted Winslow with an antique handgun and fired up to four times, prosecutors say.
"I did it and I'd do it again!" Driskell was quoted as yelling to the officers who arrived at the home.
At her 2006 trial, Driskell's attorneys acknowledged she shot Winslow, but argued that she was not guilty on grounds of insanity. They contended that she snapped because she thought Winslow had been cheating on him when in fact he was likely taking a nap.
"There is no other woman," defense attorney Deborah Poole said during the trial. "Mr. Winslow was 85 years old."
A jury deliberated for just two hours before convicting Driskell on charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm. Since then, new lawyers have scrutinized the court record and pressed for a new trial.
Driskell's family and legal staff were relieved by the ruling, which they said gives the 81-year-old great-great-grandmother a second chance. A bond hearing for Driskell is scheduled for later this month, and a new trial could begin as early as September.
"She has never been in any trouble besides this. That doesn't mean she didn't do what was alleged," said Phaedra Parks, Driskell's attorney. "But she didn't get a fair trial. And everyone has a right to a fair trial."
The victim's family was infuriated by the decision.
"I'd like to see her come out of there in a hearse," said Horace Winslow, Winslow's son. "That's the way she should come out there. Dead. You know, not that we hate her or anything. I hold no animosity against her. But she took my dad's life."