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Tennessee woman accused of killing university professor who had custody of children guilty of murder

A woman who killed a Tennessee university professor who has temporary custody of her children was found guilty this week by a jury, reports said.

A Tennessee woman has been found guilty of the 2021 killing of a university professor who had been given temporary custody of her children.

A jury convicted Annette Harvey, 54, guilty of first-degree murder in the death of East Tennessee State University professor Robin Leonard after three hours of deliberation, the Johnson City Press reported. 

Harvey stabbed Leonard, 50, multiple times at her home on Jan. 18, 2021. Leonard was taken to a hospital where she died 11 days later. 

Harvey fled the scene but was arrested a day later. Prior to the killing, Leonard had been given temporary custody of Harvey's children while she was sent for a mental health evaluation. 

At one point, Leonard moved Harvey's two children to another home because Harvey had taken them from her days earlier. 

TENNESSEE FUGITIVE'S BROTHER, GIRLFRIEND ARRESTED AS MANHUNT CONTINUES FOR SUSPECT ACCUSED OF KILLING DEPUTY

She tried to take them to the home of her former pastor, who declined to take them in. The children were returned to Leonard after the police were called. 

On Monday, her attorney, Don Spurrell, argued during closing arguments that his client never intended to kill Leonard and alluded to her mental health issues, WHLJ-TV reported.

"Annette Harvey did not have the soundness of mind to think her way into the commission of a crime," Spurrell told the jury.

Leonard's family thanked prosecutors after the verdict while remembering her legacy.  

"We want to thank the DA’s office for their really hard work on behalf of our sister, so that she could have justice," Leonard's sister, Lara Leonard, said after the verdict, WJHL reports. "It will never bring her back. It will never make it okay. But, we realize the hard work of everyone involved, and I know that she’s grateful for that, too."

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"She always took care of us when we were little. It was like we had to stand up for her no matter what. It wasn’t hard," she said. "It was a passion of love for our sister."

Harvey is scheduled to be sentenced May 1. She was also fined $125,000. 

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