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Tasmiyah and Jasmiyah WHITEHEAD





Classification: Homicides
Characteristics: Identical twins - Juveniles (16)
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: January 13, 2010
Date of arrest: May 21, 2010
Date of birth: 1993
Victim profile: Jarmecca “Nikki” Whitehead, 34 (their mother)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Conyers, Rockdale County, Georgia, USA
Status: Tasmiyah pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. Sentenced to 30 years in prison on January 9, 2014. Jasmiyah goes to trial in March 2014
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Guilty plea from Rockdale twin accused in mother’s death

By Marcus K. Garner - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

January 9, 2014

A brutal kitchen brawl between a Conyers mother and her teenage twin daughters ended with the mother’s death, prosecutors said.

Nearly four years after Jarmecca “Nikki” Whitehead’s spinal cord was fatally severed at the climax of the fight, one of her twins has admitted her part in the killing.

Tasmiyah Whitehead, 20, pleaded guilty Thursday to voluntary manslaughter, falsification in government matters and possession of a knife during the commission of a crime in the death of her mother.

She was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Her identical twin sister, Jasmiyah Whitehead, goes to trial in March in connection with the killing and could face life in prison.

“I have read about … tragedies of epic proportion,” Rockdale County Superior Court Judge David Irwin said Thursday at Tasmiyah Whitehead’s plea hearing. “I had no idea what that was until today.”

Tasmiyah Whitehead and Jasmiyah Whitehead were 16 when they were arrested and charged with malice murder, felony murder and aggravated assault in connection with their mother’s death.

An apparent history of violent family turmoil had been brewing over some years and exploded on the morning of Jan. 13, 2010, prosecutors said.

The twins had been living with their great-grandmother Della Frazier and had been moved back to Conyers with Jarmecca Whitehead just a week earlier.

Rockdale District Attorney Richard R. Read said on Thursday that Tasmiyah recently told prosecutors she and her sister awoke that day late for school and encountered their mother in the kitchen.

“(Nikki) hit Jas with a pot,” Read said. “Tas took the pot from their mother and Nikki grabbed a steak knife.”

The fight began.

“There was name-calling and cursing and gouging and scratching and everybody was mad,” Read said. “During the fight, her mom was cut and stabbed.”

Tasmiyah Whitehead looked on stoically in handcuffs, leg irons and an orange Rockdale County Jail jumpsuit as Read described her accounts of the fight that led to her mother’s death.

At some point that January morning, the melee halted, and Jarmecca Whitehead left the house seeking help from a next-door neighbor, according to prosecutors.

When no one immediately answered the door, she returned home, Read said.

“Tas said Nikki came and sat down in the kitchen … she was tired,” Read said. “Tas said Nikki lunged at the knife. Eventually the blows necessary to bring about the death of Nikki Whitehead were given.”

Among her injuries, Jarmecca Whitehead suffered significant stab wounds to her lungs, jugular and the back of her neck, where her spinal cord was severed, prosecutors said.

Jasmiyah and Tasmiyah Whitehead went to school and flagged down a Rockdale County sheriff’s deputy driving by their home later that day, telling the deputy they found their mother dead, prosecutors said.

Conyers police investigating the death followed evidence, including cuts and bite marks on the twins after the fight, to implicate them in the death, authorities said.

They were arrested and charged after four months of police investigation, and both pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors said strife between Frazier and Jarmecca Whitehead contributed to the conflict with the twins, authorities said.

Frazier was not available for comment Thursday.

Jarmecca Whitehead had been living with her daughters at Frazier’s home in Clarkston and moved them with her into her boyfriend’s home in Conyers, authorities said.

That’s when the girls’ grades began to drop and they started getting into trouble, Read said.

“This is a family that thrives in chaos,” Read said, reading notes from a juvenile court counselor who attempted to reconcile the tumult between Jarmecca Whitehead and her girls, who had sided with their great-grandmother Della Frazier. “All members – mom, great-grandmother and the girls – struggle to take their own responsibility for family stress. The adults in this family have failed to guide these children properly.”

From the time they became teens, the twins who had been straight-A students and Girl Scouts began rebelling against their mother, Read said.

Read said they despised Jarmecca Whitehead’s strict rules about boys and accusations of drug use while at the same time they alleged she was smoking marijuana and parading between boyfriends.

“Nikki believed they were sexually active, using marijuana and skipping school,” he said. “They believed she was a hypocrite because she was promiscuous and used marijuana.”

A 2008 fight with the girls ended in Jarmecca Whitehead being scratched by the then-teens and dragged across the floor, and prompted a juvenile court judge to send the twins back to Frazier’s home.

Their mother was killed just over a week after they were returned to her custody. Read said one of the twins even threatened fatal action during a counseling session before they moved back to Conyers.

“Jasmiyah said, ‘If I have to move back with her, I’ll kill her,’” he said in court Thursday.

A tearful Lynda Whitehead, Frazier’s daughter and Jarmecca Whitehead’s mother, told the court that her heart was broken. While she said she forgives the twins and loves them, she lamented that they weren’t held accountable.

“Unfortunately, my grandchildren never learned right from wrong … and that’s why we are here,” she said. “They should be in college, not sitting somewhere in jail.”

Jasmiyah and Tasmiyah Whitehead have been in jail since their arrest in May 2010.

Tasmiyah was moved to the Rockdale County jail when she turned 17 and will remain there until she is transferred to a state Department of Corrections facility to serve out the remainder of her sentence.

Jasmiyah is being held without bond in the Newton County jail in Covington and awaits her trial in March, prosecutors said.


Whitehead sister pleads guilty to manslaughter

January 9, 2014

Tasmiyah Whitehead, one of the young twin sisters charged with the bloody 2010 killing of their mother in Conyers, pleaded guilty today to voluntary manslaughter and other charges.

Calling the killing of Jarmecca "Nikki" Whitehead a "tragedy of epic proportions," Rockdale County Chief Superior Court Judge David Irwin sentenced Tasmiyah to 30 years in prison.

Tasmiyah admitted in her confession to joining her twin sister Jasmiyah in a fight with Nikki that left their mother stabbed to death with a steak knife. The twins, now 20 years old, were 16 at the time of Nikki's killing. Jasmiyah faces a trial set to begin March 17.

Clad in chains and an orange prison jumpsuit, Tasmiyah frequently kept her head bowed, a solemn expression on her face. A star shape was shaved into her hair on the back of her head. Tasmiyah did not speak except to answer yes-or-no questions about her plea. "Yes, sir," she responded when asked if she was pleading guilty.

Lynda Whitehead, Nikki's mother, was the only family member to speak to the court.

"I would just like to say today, I'm a broken mother and a broken grandmother," she said. "I love my daughter. I love my granddaughters. There are no winners here."

"I agree with you," Irwin replied quietly.

"If you do wrong in this world, there are consequences," Lynda Whitehead added. "Unfortunately, my granddaughters never learned right and wrong."

Rockdale County District Attorney Richard Read revealed many new details about the crime, describing the police investigation and Tasmiyah's new confession step-by-step. The tale featured repeated violent arguments that ended in a brutal fight on Jan. 13, 2010, when Nikki's body was found in the bathtub of her home at 2020 Appaloosa Way, Conyers. Read revealed that Nikki bit Tasmiyah in the combat and at one point ran to a neighbor's house for help, leaving blood on the wall, before returning home to her death.

"This is a family that thrives in chaos," Read quoted a counselor as saying after previous attempts to defuse constant arguments and violence.

"Tragedy of epic proportions. I never knew what that meant until today," Judge Irwin said to Tasmiyah. He called her guilty plea a "reasonable resolution to a great tragedy."

Tasmiyah originally faced a murder charge, but the District Attorney's Office agreed to accept her plea to lesser charges. Irwin sentenced her to 20 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter; five years for falsification in government matters; and five years for possession of a knife in commission of a crime. All are the maximum sentences, and Tasmiyah must serve them consecutively, meaning she will be in prison for the longest possible time. Irwin gave her credit for her time in jail awaiting trial.

"The way we show remorse is how you live each day," Irwin told Tasmiyah before bailiffs led her away. "I wish you the best of luck."

Family responses

Family members, friends and reporters packed the small courtroom.

"It's acceptable. It's something I got to live with," Lynda Whitehead tearfully said to the News immediately after Tasmiyah was sentenced.

Lynda Whitehead said she knew the twins were increasingly out of control, but never saw violence and never feared them.

"I didn't think they would be violent...I [had] never seen them violent with their mom. They were loving girls," she said. "That's why this is so hard to understand."

"Nikki was a loving person. She didn't argue with people," she said. "She always brought people together."

She accused the twin's great-grandmother, Della Fraser, who for years had custody of them, of teaching them to disobey their mother. "I didn't want to go over there. I'd be in jail," she said.

In her final days, Nikki feared her daughters, Lynda Whitehead said. "She was talking to me on the phone like she was talking to police," adding that "Jas was very ugly" in her behavior.

"She couldn't be a jailer," Lynda Whitehead said of Nikki. "There was nobody to protect her from her children in her own house."

The crime

"I think to understand this case, you have to understand the background," District Attorney Read told the court.

He described the twins becoming increasingly disorderly as their mother and great-grandmother, Della Frazier, traded custody of them. And Nikki herself became more erratic as tensions mounted between her and Frazier.

Well-behaved and getting good grades early in life, the girls ran into problems around age 13, when Nikki moved them away from Frazier to Conyers, where Nikki shared a house with her trucker boyfriend Robert Head. Nikki believed the girls were sexually active and using marijuana, among other problems.

"The girls, on the other hand, were resentful of their mother's attitude to them," Read said, especially because she drank and used marijuana herself.

At one point, one of the twins claimed to have been raped, and Nikki did not believe her, Read said.

Meanwhile, Frazier criticized Nikki's lifestyle, while Nikki saw Frazier as interfering with raising her children for "financially motivated" reasons.

On June 28, 2008, Nikki called Conyers police, accusing the twins of attacking her. Minutes after officers calmed the situation down, Nikki ran out of the house to their police car, saying the girls attacked her again.

Officers saw that Nikki "had scratches and she had red marks she had not had three minutes before," Read said. They found marks on the girls as well.

Police arrested the twins, and a Juvenile Court judge ruled them "ungovernable." He placed them in Frazier's custody and ordered the whole family to counseling.

But the family's problems continued. At one point, Read said, Nikki was found in contempt of court for cursing at Frazier and the twins.

"Living with the great-grandmother has simply swapped one set of problems for another," Read said.

In late 2009, the twins were back in Juvenile Court for truancy and running away from home. A judge placed them back in Nikki's custody.

The decision "caused chaos in the hallway of juvenile court," Read said. Jasmiyah was the most upset and "said in the presence of the victim [Nikki]...‘If I have to go live with you again, I'm going to kill you.'"

"During the next eight days, the drama continued," Read said. The girls misbehaved during the process of unenrolling them from their former school. Then Nikki misbehaved while enrolling them in Rockdale High.

Conyers police were called to the home twice in that time. One time, Nikki called, saying Tasmiyah was throwing food. The next day, Tasmiyah called saying that a dispute between her and an aunt led to a "pushing match" at a welcome-home party for the twins.

On the afternoon of Jan. 13, 2010, Tasmiyah ran from the house and approached a Rockdale County Sheriff's Office deputy who happened to be nearby. She told the deputy her mother was dead.

Nikki's body lay in a bathtub, with multiple stab wounds. Many were shallow, but there were deep wounds penetrating both lungs, the jugular vein and the spinal cord. A medical examiner later ruled the wounds were all "survivable" if Nikki had been treated immediately.

The twins, crying and upset, told police they came from school and found their mother dead. The night before, Nikki argued on the phone with another boyfriend, and was so intoxicated the twins had to help her into bed, they said. That morning, they claimed, they missed the school bus but were unable to get any response from behind their mother's locked bedroom door.

"They continued to deny any knowledge of their mother's death," Read said.

But Conyers police noticed that both twins had scratches, cuts and bite marks on their arms and fingers. The girls had various explanations for the wounds. Tasmiyah at one point claimed that "when she became stressed, she would bite herself," Read said.

Meanwhile, the medical examiner noted that there was no forced entry and no sign of sexual assault. The violence of the killing looked like a "crime of passion...not a stranger-on-stranger case."

Police ruled out Carter and Head, Nikki's boyfriends, as suspects with evidence ranging from DNA testing to phone and GPS records.

The twins, however, quickly had evidence closing in on them. Security video from the Shell gas station on West Avenue, near the crime scene, showed the twins walking on Green Street and getting into a car with an unknown driver around 10:15 a.m.-long after they told police they had gone to school. Video footage and a hall pass from the high school showed they arrived there around the same time.

That left investigators with a "two- to three-hour unexplained gap in time" in the twins' story, Read said.

A forensic dentist examined the bite marks on the twins, comparing them with tooth impressions taken from them and Nikki's body.

"To a reasonable degree of probability, the bite on Tasmiyah Whitehead's left arm was placed there by her mother," the forensic dentist judged, according to Read.

DNA matching the identical twins-who cannot be distinguished from each other genetically-was found in blood on a broken vase and shoes inside the house, Read said.

Based on all of that evidence, police charged the twins with murder in May 2010.

In her confession, Tasmiyah admitted to a different version of events. The twins indeed were late to school, but they argued with Nikki about it in the kitchen. Nikki threw a pot at Jasmiyah, then "grabbed a steak knife and a fight began," Read said Tasmiyah claims.

"At one point, the fight actually stopped and her mother went out the house...[and] returned sometime later," Read said, adding that claim matches evidence that Nikki went next door for help.

"We found blood on the wall of the house next door," Read said. The resident of that house heard repeated door-knocking and doorbell-ringing "he described as frantic," but did not seen anyone outside.

After that, Tasmiyah claims, Nikki returned to the house, picked up the knife and "lunged" with it, starting the fight again. In the fray, Nikki was stabbed to death, Read said.

As he finished the story with Nikki's death, Tasmiyah hung her head.



Whitehead twins plead 'not guilty' in mother's murder

By Jay Jones -

September 12, 2011

CONYERS -- The murder case against sisters Jasmiyah and Tasmiyah Whitehead, accused of killing their mother in their Conyers home in 2010, appears to be moving closer to trial after they pleaded not guilty in Rockdale County Superior Court.

Attorneys for the teenagers waived a formal arraignment last week in Judge Sidney Nation's courtroom.

Rockdale County District Attorney Richard Read said the twins did not appear in the courtroom for the arraignment. He said defense attorneys indicated they will file motions, but the next court hearing has not been scheduled.

"No motions were filed, so far, and the scheduling of a hearing depends on what those motions are," he said. "Depending on that, a hearing can be done in October or November."

Jasmiyha and Tasmiyah Whitehead, both 17, are charged with murder in the death of their 34-year-old mother, Jarmecca Whitehead, in January 2010. The teens also face aggravated assault, malice murder and felony murder charges.

The pair told authorities they came home from school that afternoon to discover their mother's dead body in the bathroom. They were arrested by Conyers Police in May and charged with the murder of their mother.

The twins were originally indicted earlier this year, but the process was put on hold when Atlanta criminal defense attorney Dwight Thomas, who is defending Jasmiyah, filed a motion challenging the jury selection process in Rockdale County.

Thomas argued then in the court brief that the jury pools for both grand jury and trial juries were "woefully under-representative of the demographic realities of Rockdale County."

Nation place a moratorium on jury trials to allow the county's Jury Commission to update the jury pools to correspond with the 2010 U.S. Census. Results of the census for Rockdale County were released in March.

After work on the jury pools was completed, the Rockdale County Grand Jury reindicted the pair for the same charges last month, Read said.

Both suspects remain in custody separately in the Rockdale and Newton county jails. They will face trial together, Read said.



Georgia Teen Twins Charged With Mother's Murder

By Susan Donaldson James -

May 28, 2010

Friends described Jarmecca "Nikki" Whitehead as a "loving and open" mother whose rebellious teens increasingly challenged her on issues of dating, cell phone use and even about going to school.

The 16-year-old twins, Tasmiyah, "Tas," and Jasmiyah, "Jas," had at one time been "A" students, involved in Girl Scouts and the performing arts at their Georgia high school. But 18 months ago, they reportedly became so violent and hard to handle that they temporarily moved in with their elderly great-grandmother.

Now they're locked up, accused of murdering their mother, a beautician who had recently gone back to school to study fashion design.

Whitehead was found dead in her Conyers, Georgia, house in a pool of blood Jan. 14, brutally beaten and stabbed. Just one week before the murder the twins had returned home, but their mother had called police three times to rein in her out-of-control twins.

Now friends say they are not surprised.

"Do I think they were capable of doing it?" said Petrina Sims, owner of Decatur's Simply Unique salon, where Whitehead worked until her death. "I was hoping not, but after all she had gone through, it was like you almost knew it was them."

Apparently police thought so too, arresting the girls May 21 after connecting them to the brutal murder of their 34-year-old mother.

The girls face charges of malicious murder, felony murder and aggravated assault, which can carry a life sentence without parole. Prosecutors cannot ask for the death penalty because juveniles are barred from capital punishment in Georgia.

"There was a point soon after the murder when a lot of people became suspicious of the two girls," Police Chief Eugene Wilson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The twins have denied killing their mother, telling police that they discovered her body when they came home from school. One of the girls hailed a sheriff's deputy, who had been serving a warrant in an unrelated case in the neighborhood.

The number of young children who kill is small, but edging up after reaching an all-time high a decade ago.

The murder arrest rate in 2008 was 3.8 arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10 through 17. This was 17 percent more than the 2004 low of 3.3 and three-quarters less than the 1993 peak of 14.4, according the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

The Whitehead slaying has unsettled this middle-class community of about 80,000 people, just 30 miles outside Atlanta. The last violent crime in Conyers was a 1999 shooting at its Heritage High School, according to Rockdale County District Attorney Richard Reed. Six students were injured in a copycat shooting one month after the massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado.

When the girls became suspects, police literally "beat the bushes" with batons in the Whitehead's subdivision, searching for a weapon, according to ABC's affiliate WSB-TV.

Police have gathered evidence that was tested at the GBI crime labs to see if it will help link the girls to their mother's death.

"Some of that evidence is tested and some testing is ongoing," said Reed.

He confirmed that Whitehead and her daughters had a tempestuous relationship.

"There were extreme differences between the mom and the girls and there was a lot of emotion and a lot of drama and anger that the girls had directed toward their mom," said Reed.

Whitehead Twins Charged With Murder Held Separately

Rockdale County public defender Thomas Owen Humphries, who is representing Jas, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "I've got my work cut out for me."

The girls are being held in youth detention centers in two different counties without bond to "keep them from comparing notes," said Humprhies.

The girls had a history of conflict with their mother, according to Whitehead's friend and colleague of 15 years. Their father lived in Jamaica and was not a presence in their lives.

"It took its toll on Nikki," said Sims. "She was a stranger to no one, real sweet. She was a very loving person and not a confrontational person. Any time there was a problem, she would try to bring about a resolution and didn't even hold a grudge. She was always trying to reach across the board to reconcile."

"She was always talking about problems with the girls acting out," said Sims. "They were not wild all the time. They were real amenable girls, involved in ballet, playing instruments and in the performing arts. She had them involved. But they began to rebel and tried to jump on her and got away. The police apprehended the girls and took them to juvenile."

But in 2008, Whitehead had a confrontation with the twins. "The girls wanted to go somewhere and she said they couldn't go, and they tried to jump her," said Sims. "And it wasn't the first attempt."

Whitehead called the police. "In spite of that, Nikki still loved those girls," she said.

The girls ended up in juvenile court and Whitehead's grandmother, who was more lax about discipline, was given primary custody.

"They liked being with her because they were able to do what they wanted to do," said Sims. "At first, they weren't violent, you would have thought they were typical teenagers. But after they were taken out of the home, the case turned. They were unruly began to tell lies."

Friends reported that the girls stole money from their family and their great-grandmother, who even had a dead-bolt on her bedroom door.

Over the course of the last year Whitehead had "tried back and forth with the court and with her whole heart" to get her daughters back, but to no avail.

Just a week before the murder, a judge gave Whitehead back custody of her daughters and she pledged to make a clean start. But more defiance ensued at the salon and in their home -- over respecting others, sitting down for meals and even going to school.

Sims said Whitehead suspected the defiant girls were up to something. "She was afraid of them, but I don't think she knew they would kill her."



Daughters arrested in Conyers murder case

May 21, 2010

Police arrested the 16-year-old twin daughters of Conyers murder victim Jarmecca "Nikki" Whitehead Friday morning and charged them with the murder of their mother.

Tasmiyah Whitehead and Jasmiyah Whitehead will be tried as adults, according to Conyers Police Department Chief Gene Wilson, due to the nature of the crime.

"This investigation has taken place over a several month period of time," said Wilson, and involved the Conyers Police, Rockdale County Sheriff's Office, and the Rockdale County District Attorney's Office.

"As the investigation went on, the evidence that was sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations to be processed pointed clearly to who was responsible for the murder." He declined to describe that evidence. He also said he did not know of any other weapon involved other than the knife.

"It was a brutal murder. She was stabbed and beaten to death," he said. "As for the motive, I just don't know."

"Any murder is a terrible crime. It's the ultimate crime. But when you have family on family, that makes it worse."

Whitehead, 34, was found stabbed to death on January 13 at 2020 Appaloosa Way in the gated Bridle Ridge subdivision, off of Dogwood Drive. The girls had reportedly come out of the house screaming and flagged down a deputy who happened to be in the neighborhood around 3 p.m. They told the deputy that they had found their mother's body when they returned home from school.

The girls were taken into custody by DFACS after the incident and had been living separately in Clarkston and Stone Mountain but had both been attending Tucker High School. One was arrested at the location where she was living in Clarkston and the other was arrested at school. Wilson said one of the girls was passive during the arrest while the other was hostile, but that neither showed surprise.

Rockdale County District Attorney Richard Read said the girls were being kept at separate youth detention facilities.

The girls had reportedly attended Rockdale County High School while they were living in the county.

Yucca Harris, a family friend of Whitehead since childhood, said the whole situation was hard on Whitehead's family and friends, including Whitehead's mother, who was at a loss for words.

"We don't know where to go from here," said Harris, who had heard about the arrest through word of mouth and had been in court while the girls were charged this afternoon.

"They showed no remorse. No emotion," said Harris. "They said nothing."

Harris said the girls had jumped on and attacked Whitehead in an incident about two years ago, but Whitehead was able to get away. After that incident, the girls reportedly went to live with their great grandmother. After two years, when the girls weren't doing any better, according to Harris, they were put back into Whitehead's custody. Harris said they had been with their mother for about two weeks before the murder.

Read said normally, a case will go before a grand jury in about 30 to 60 days, and then be up for arraignment 30 days after any indictment.



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