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Forsyth County woman convicted on murder charges for 2016 stabbing
FCN Tonya Jane Tidwell Murder 1 111618
Forsyth County woman Tonya Jane Tidwell, right, listens to court proceedings during her murder trial on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. - photo by Ben Hendren

A Forsyth County woman was found guilty Tuesday on multiple murder charges for the 2016 stabbing of a 35-year-old local man.

After just a few hours of deliberation, a jury returned with an all guilty verdict to convict Tonya Jane Tidwell, 34, of malice murder, felony murder and aggravated battery, for stabbing David Eric Guice with a knife on Dec. 30, 2016, and striking him with an unknown object along with two other suspects — Ryan Lee Spark, 30, of Hall County, and Jimmy Lee Winkles, 24.

Both Spark and Winkles plead guilty to murder charges before the trial and returned as witnesses for the state during the course of Tidwell’s trial.

In her closing arguments, Chief Assistant District Attorney Sandra Ann Partridge stated that on Dec. 30, 2016, the three defendants went to Guice’s home on Odyssey Trail off Hwy. 53 to confront him about stolen property, attacking him in his sleep with knives and blunt objects after they had smoked meth and marijuana.

"They all agree, every last one of them ... the defendant landed the first blow on (Guice) on the head while he was asleep," Partridge said.

She reiterated to the jury how Tidwell first attacked Guice with a hatchet and then a knife, showing pictures of the wounds, and going over the timeline of the attack.

"He was down when she stabbed him, the first time ... They could have stopped this, they could have stopped,” Partridge said. “They had time to decide not to do it and it kept on. They were torturing Eric Guice, they were torturing him for stealing a multi-tool."  

According to Partridge, the co-defendants and another witness to the assault stated that Tidwell used a broom to sodomize Guice before going through his pockets to find valuables, tying him up and stabbing him again as he pleaded for his life. 

"This was a cold-blooded murder,” Partridge said. “What they got was bloodlust. They felt powerful, they felt strong and they were high. There was no serious provocation, there was no provocation at all ... no reasonable person would be provoked to murder and torture a person because of a theft. That is not what reasonable people do." 

During his rebuttal closing remarks, Tidwell’s attorney John Rife cast doubts on the state’s timeline of the attack, the forensics of their proposed murder weapon and inconsistencies in the co-defendants’ recollection of the events.

“Because there’s no forensics, you have to rely on three people who were there, whose stories don’t remotely match,” Rife said. “And you have to ask yourself why? They were all there … the three people who came up here had a totally different story of how things happened.”

Rife also attacked the idea that the trio went to the residence with any intent other than to beat Guice for taking their things, stating that they were “passionate” about the situation and killed in the heat of the moment. He said that ultimately there is no proof that Tidwell landed the killing blow.

“That’s what happened here, all of this, I don’t discount that fact,” he said. “What I do question is how he died (and) who did the damage.”

According to Forsyth County District Attorney Penny Penn, now that Tidwell has been convicted, she will be sentenced by Superior Court Chief Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley on Friday at 3 p.m.

Penn stated that Tidwell could face a life sentence without parole for her crimes. She said that sentencing for Sparks and Winkles has not been set yet, and both face either a life sentence with the possibility of parole or a life sentence without parole. 

After the verdict, Rife declined to comment on the case for the FCN, stating that he would wait until sentencing had been handed down before making any statement. 

Ben Hendren contributed to this report.