COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Columbus' latest murder suspect is claiming self defense.
Cynthia Sanders, 50, tells police she stabbed her daughter's ex-boyfriend because she was trying to protect herself and her daughter during a fight.
Thirty-three-year-old Calvin Jones was stabbed to death at an East Columbus home Monday and even though Sanders has admitted to the crime, in court Friday, she pleaded not guilty, saying she did it trying to defend herself.
At Sanders' preliminary hearing Friday morning, eyewitnesses testified Calvin Jones hit Sanders in the head with a lamp during a fight inside a friend's home on School House Drive.
Allegations surfaced in court that Jones was sleeping with another woman, shedding light on what sparked the argument that turned deadly.
Witnesses say Jones was drunk and high and had been fighting with Sanders and her daughter, his ex-girlfriend, Stephanie Smith.
That's when Cynthia Sanders says she got a knife, telling police Jones kept coming at her when she told him to stop.
"Mister Jones attacked not only her but her mother and hit her with a lamp. In protecting herself, Miss Sanders stabbed the victim one time in self defense- in self defense of herself but also in self defense of a third person which would be her daughter, Miss Smith," said Sanders' attorney Stacey Jackson.
Neighbors say they saw Sanders leaving the murder scene with a knife in her hand and Columbus investigators say she later led them to the weapon.
Stacey Jackson asked the judge to dismiss Sanders' murder charge on the grounds of self defense and reduce the charge to manslaughter.
But Judge Michael Joyner found probable cause in the case and made the murder charge stick, saying self defense is something that's up to a jury to decide. He noted that all of the witnesses who testified are Sanders' friends and that the bottom line is that someone was killed in a violent nature.
Sanders' murder case has been bound over to Muscogee County Superior Court.
In a strange turn of events, fire investigators are investigating an arson at Stephanie Smith's East Columbus home this week. Officials are working to determine if it is linked to the murder.
"We'll let the proper authorities investigate the arson but we do believe that it was not an accident, that someone actually did set that house on fire on purpose,"Stacey Jackson said, adding that Smith was not home at the time of the fire.
As for Calvin Jones, court records show he pleaded guilty to a reduced aggravated assault and weapons charge in 2005 and was sentenced probation. A simple battery charge was dropped in 2009.
But regardless of his past or what happened the day he was killed, his family says he didn't deserve to die.
"You can't decide a case when the victim isn't able to speak for themselves. I pray to the Lord to let justice be done. I want my grandson to know that his grandmother still loves him and we just love him and want him to know that- that his family loves him very much," said his grandmother, Rosa Jones.
Cynthia Sanders is being held without bond in the Muscogee County Jail.
Calvin Jones will be laid to rest Saturday in Columbus.