A Georgia man will spend the rest of his life in prison, and then some, for the brutal murder of a beloved 83-year-old great-grandmother on Mother’s Day weekend in 2020, a judge ruled this week.
Barbara Gibson was killed in her own home on Burwell-Mt. Zion Road in Carrollton, Georgia, on May 9, 2020 – roughly 45 miles west of Atlanta. Her assailants parked in the carport, one of them got out and knocked on the door and, when Gibson opened it, she was immediately shot several times in quick succession.
Andrew James Conard, 37, and Amanda Sperry, 31, left the scene of the crime after Conard fired the fatal shots, according to the Coweta Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office. The couple returned a short time later and relieved the deceased woman of several valuables including her jewelry, her wallet, and her sewing machine.
“Gibson from all accounts was very much loved by the small community she lived in and where she was an active member, she was always a friendly face, a loving neighbor, and had a heart of gold,” the Caroll County Sheriff’s Office said at the time of her death. “Our hearts are heavy and we are praying for her family who tragically lost their Mother on Mother’s Day weekend, when they should have been celebrating, they are instead planning a funeral.”
The incident occurred at around 6:00 p.m. on the night in question, the DA’s office said – just as Gibson was preparing to take Mother’s Day gifts to friends and neighbors in the Burwell neighborhood.
“The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office launched one of the most extensive investigations in Carroll County history, led by Investigator Nick Miller,” the DA’s office said in a press release. “Using novel and cutting edge techniques, Sperry and Conard were identified as the suspects in Ms. Gibson’s murder. Investigators located the murder weapon and several items of Gibson’s property inside the residence of the defendants.”
According to law enforcement, the defendants were both gamblers who regularly used methamphetamines.
Investigators determined Sperry got caught stealing lottery tickets and cash from her employer in early May 2020. Then, lacking a source of income, she and her partner came up with a new plan “to fund their vices,” the DA’s office said.
“For three days prior to the murder, the couple drove around the County targeting elderly persons in rural areas,” the press release says. “Their motive was robbery and they sought citizens that might be alone, isolated, and unable to fight back. The evidence at trial showed that they targeted Ms. Gibson for exactly this reason.”
A great deal of the funds obtained from the robbery on Mother’s Day weekend was spent on methamphetamine, scratch-off lottery tickets, and video poker, law enforcement alleged.
After being arrested, Sperry confessed and took a plea deal. She agreed to testify against Conard in exchange for a 60-year sentence, with the first 40 years to serve in prison, the DA’s office said.
On March 13, Conard was convicted of malice murder, felony murder, home invasion, armed robbery, and aggravated battery by Carroll County jurors. Later that same day, Coweta Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge John Simpson sentenced the defendant to life in prison without the possibility of parole, followed by two more life sentences, as well an additional 20-year sentence.
“The world became a whole lot dimmer and the fear of knowing someone was capable of murdering an innocent and sweet Godly woman was real,” the sheriff’s office wrote in a Facebook post after the killer was convicted and sentenced this week. “We pray this will help bring some closure and healing to her family and her community, and may Andrew Conard see [her] precious face when he closes his eyes every night and never know peace on this Earth.”
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