Trial ends in guilty verdict

Published 12:03 am Thursday, November 24, 2011

It took a Covington County jury less than 30 minutes Wednesday to convict Bobby Wayne Copeland of murdering his wife in 2009.

Copeland, who shot Dorothy Cravey Copeland in their North Creek home, took the stand in his own defense. He was the last witness called to testify in the case before closing arguments.


He told jurors, “In my mind, I did not kill my wife. Miss Dot did everything for me that I couldn’t do for myself. I have to be truthful to myself, and say the only way I knew she was dead is because I’ve been to her grave.”

Copeland maintained he had no recollection of the events that led up to his wife’s death. His defense attorney, Joe Sawyer, told jurors the state did not present any evidence to prove Copeland was the one who fired the gun.

“There is not one piece of evidence that points to my client killing the only person who loved him and helped him,” Sawyer said.

However, jurors disagreed with Sawyer’s defense, returning 20 minutes after being instructed by Circuit Judge Ashley McKathan, with a guilty verdict.

Copeland had pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.

“Justice is not always easy or quick,” said Assistant District Attorney Grace Jeter, prosecutor in the case. Jeter was assisted by ADAs Emmett Massey and Paul Adams. “But there are certain elements in this case that stood out – Mr. Copeland was a greedy man who was jealous of his wife’s relationship with her family, and when she decided to choose her family over him, he shot her for it.”

Jeter said it was the state’s position that Copeland killed his wife, and then intended to commit suicide, but for some reason either changed his mind or was interrupted. As evidence, the prosecution had presented handwritten note by Copeland that stated: “Johnny Wayne Cravey did this.” Cravey was the victim’s brother.

“That would explain the gun in (his) room, the extra bullets in his pants pocket and the note he left,” she said. “It was because he was so mad, and fed up with (his wife’s) family, he wanted to blame her brother for her death. He left that note because he didn’t intend to be there.

“When you put all those puzzle pieces together, it paints a picture of a guilty man,” she said. “Nothing can erase the hole left by Dorothy Cravey Copeland’s death. We hope her family can take comfort from the knowledge that her murderer has been held accountable.”

Sheriff Dennis Meeks commended his office, especially the lead investigator Wesley Snodgrass.

“He spent countless work hours and was dedicated to putting this case together and solving this case, which ultimately led to a conviction,” Meeks said. “It was a tragedy what happened, but we’re glad that justice was served and this family has some closure.”

Copeland, who was remanded to the county jail, will be sentenced on Dec. 5. He faces up to life in prison.