- The Washington Times - Friday, June 27, 2003

FORT WORTH, Texas — Jurors yesterday took 52 minutes to find Chante Jawan Mallard guilty of murder in the gruesome death of a homeless man 20 months ago on a Fort Worth highway.

Mallard, 27, cried softly, her head bowed, as state District Judge James Wilson read the verdict. Lead defense attorney Jeff Kearney grasped her hand, then whispered to her.

Mallard struck and killed Gregory Biggs, 37, on Oct. 26, 2001, but made no effort to call for help. Mr. Biggs, who suffered from a bipolar condition and schizophrenia, was thrust into Mallard’s windshield in the 3 a.m. accident.

The driver told police she stopped to try to jerk the victim out of the windshield to no avail, then drove on home, parked the car in her garage and began calling friends.

After a break for lunch, the jurors returned to consider sentencing.

The defendant, who did not testify in the trial, took the stand in a tearful effort to elicit leniency from the jury of seven men and five women by claiming that the bizarre actions she exhibited that night were influenced by marijuana, Ecstasy and alcohol.

On gentle direct by Mr. Kearney, she told of how the drugs had affected and “ruined” her life and the lives of others.

Her attorney reminded her that as a person with no prior felony convictions, she could ask the jury for probation.

“Are you going to ask jurors for probation?” he said softly.

“No,” came the reply with a sob.

“Do you think you need to go to prison?”

“Yes.”

“You feel like you need to be punished?”

“Yes, sir. I do feel like I need to be punished.”

The prosecution rebutted her claims of sorrow with questions about her years of drug addiction, of cheating on drug tests, and lying.

She admitted she had tricked at least four employers at clinics where she worked as a nurse’s aide by substituting other people’s urine for hers to pass drug tests she would have failed.

A few hours after the accident, Mallard and two male friends went to her garage and removed Mr. Biggs, who by then had bled to death, and dumped his body in a public park.

Four months later, police were tipped that Mallard had been involved. The tipster reported further that Mallard had joked about the accident at a party.

Police obtained a search warrant and found the bloody car and smashed windshield, as well as a bloody, partially burned seat in Mallard’s back yard.

The trial, which attracted wide interest, took three days to reach conviction. Some had predicted it would last eight to 10 days. More testimony was scheduled for today, after which the jury was to determine Mallard’s punishment.

Several prosecution witnesses testified that Mr. Biggs could have been saved if he had been treated by rescue workers within the first hour or two after the accident. Prosecutors also called to the stand the two men who had helped Mallard remove and dump the body.

Clete Deneal Jackson testified that Mallard called him and his cousin Herbert Tyrone Cleveland, and asked them to help her get rid of the body. Jackson and Cleveland, via plea bargains, settled for terms of 10 and nine years respectively.

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