A 55-year-old Lexington woman who researched various fatal poisons on the internet was sentenced to 30 years in prison Friday for killing her her husband.
Kimberly Groh, who will be in her late 70s or 80s when she finally gets out of prison, had pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter earlier in the week and was sentenced by S.C. Judge Walton McLeod after a hearing that lasted nearly four hours. She was originally charged with murder.
“Tragic does not do it (this case) justice — the damage here cannot be quantified by words,” McLeod told the court just before sentencing Groh, according to an 11th Circuit Solicitor’s office press release.
On Nov. 30, 2016, Groh’s husband of eight years, Michael Bryan, a master plumber and avid hunter and fisherman, died of a single gunshot wound to the heart in a bedroom of the couple’s two-story home at 805 Corley St.
Before Groh was sentenced, 11th Circuit Solicitor’s prosecutors presented detailed evidence in a power-point that showed Groh had tried to cash in a $500,000 life insurance policy on him right after his death.
Groh’s attorney, Jerry Finney, in an interview late Friday told a State newspaper reporter that Groh “never collected a dime of any life insurance policy.” As for Groh’s trying to cash it in after her husband’s death, Finney said that after a traumatic death, Groh was unsure as to how much time she had to collect on the policy and wanted to be sure “she had checked the right boxes.”
During Friday’s hearing, prosecutors also showed some of the results of Groh’s internet searches on her iPhone and computer. made in the month before he died. The searches included “Ways to poison spouse without detection,” ‘Top Ten Most Deadly Poisons Known to Mankind,” “Buy Zyklon B,” “Buy Arsenic,” “How much arsenic will kill a human?,” “What is a deadly dose of Arsenic,” “load a .223 rifle” and “How to shoot a Winchester .223.”
Eventually, Groh obtained a .223 Winchester rifle and used it to kill her husband, prosecutors said.
Police became suspicious of the death in part because Groh gave inconsistent statements after the shooting, including that her husband was lying on his side when he was shot.
But a blood spatter and crime scene expert, former State Law Enforcement Division agent Steven Derrick, was ready to testify that his analysis of the death room showed that Groh was standing at the foot of the bed and her husband was sitting upright when shot in the chest, prosecutors said.
Groh’s DNA was also found on the trigger of the .223 rifle but no DNA from her husband was found on the trigger, according to evidence.
Groh originally was charged with murder but prosecutors said they agreed to her plea to voluntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum of 30 years in prison, to spare family on both sides the pain of a trial.
Eleventh Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard said in a press release, “This was a premeditated and callous crime. We hope this sentence affords some measure of closure for the family.”
Eleventh Circuit prosecutors handling the case were Suzanne Mayes and Robby McNair.
McNair said, “This case has taken an emotional toll on everyone involved, especially the family of Michael Bryan. We appreciate their trust in our office and the judicial system. It has been a long road and we are immensely satisfied to see justice served today.”
According to the press release, Michael Bryan’s son, John Bryan, told the court Friday that “not a day goes by that I don’t think about working with my hero.” Bryan noted that he and other family members are seeking “peace … peace that I will find from justice in this courtroom.”
Groh’s lawyer Finney said his client is a “good person” who worked on community projects such as trying to alleviate the plight of the homeless. Both she and her late husband were good Christians, and he loved his wife very much, Finney said.
“I hope that now we have closed the matter, people can start to heal,” Finney said.
Groh has been on house arrest for four years, and that will be applied to her 30 year sentence.
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