Tape of 911 call heard in Tabitha Hartfield murder trial
LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) -
The first trial in the gruesome murder of Tabitha Hartfield, of Lumberton, opened Monday in Lamar County Circuit Court.
Natasha Graham - the first of three defendants charged - plead not guilty to strangling, killing and covering up the murder of Hartfield, her cousin.
The first piece of evidence submitted to the court was the tearful 911 call made by Graham one week after the murder of Hartfield, a 23-year-old mother of two, in May 2008.
On the call Graham tells the dispatcher that she killed her Hartfield.
Officials said that, following that call, Graham led authorities to the site in the woods - near her grandmother's former home in Baxterville - where she, her boyfriend Ethan Dakota Dixon, and Tabitha's husband Ronald Hartfield, buried Tabitha's body in a shallow grave. The cause of death was strangulation by a dog leash. The body had two slit wrists- possibly, attorneys said, an attempt to cover up the killing.
Graham is charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder. In opening statements the prosecution pinned the killing on the group of three and pointed to Graham's confession to authorities. The defense argued that Graham was an accessory in the killing and cover-up, but not a murderer; that she was coerced by the two men, who threatened her, saying she would be next if she did not join in.
In the 911 call Graham is heard crying, and grows increasingly upset. She is heard breaking down, asking if her children - three boys- would be okay, admitting that she called because she just needed to tell someone, and saying "I don't even understand this myself".