Georgia Got a Gun

When the 7-year-old girl climbed onto the witness stand, she didn't know her mother was in deep trouble. Dressed in pink, from the barrette in her sandy-brown hair to her shoes, Kylee Roberts had no idea that the man sitting across from her in the courtroom was trying to convict her mother, Georgia, on charges of stalking and battering Channel 10 anchorwoman Kristi Krueger.

The little girl instead thought Broward County prosecutor Nathan Avrunin was her mom's "helper."

Sitting at a table across from Avrunin was Georgia Roberts, who watched as her daughter raised her right arm to swear to tell the truth. The mother's mind flashed back three decades to another little girl making a courtroom oath. Like Kylee, that girl was 7. She was dressed like a "little American," in all white, including a tiny hat and gloves. It was a young Georgia, and she was being sworn into the United States as a new citizen.

The citizenship ceremony was a seminal event in the 37-year-old's childhood, a clue to how the Greek native became South Florida's most infamous stalking defendant, a veritable soccer mom from hell who invaded the life of a local celebrity and shook up the suburban town of Pembroke Pines. Her manic behavior spilled over at trial; Circuit Judge Marc Gold held her in contempt three times and put her in jail for two days. Yet she also seemed oddly at home in the courtroom, as if her life's path had led inexorably to that place. She was also curiously effective: A jury acquitted her on July 2.

But it's not over yet. As Georgia announced in her often startling fashion in early August, she's baaaa-aaack. The jury split on the lesser-included charge of misdemeanor stalking. The case is set for trial in December, and following it, she promises to sue the unlucky Krueger for malicious prosecution.

To make any sense of Georgia, a self-described "paradox of contradictions," one must go back to the youth she admittedly never outgrew. Only then can her adult life -- full of dreadful conflicts, dangerous obsessions, and legal battles -- be understood. It was a childhood that culminated in a blood-sprayed bedroom where her school's homecoming queen lay dead and Georgia held a smoking shotgun. It was ruled an accident. Some still suspect otherwise.

A little Greek girl sits alone at a table in a Chicago elementary school while the other girls eat together. A narrator speaks. "When I was growing up, I knew I was different. The other girls were blond and delicate, and I was a swarthy 6-year-old with sideburns. I so badly wanted to be like the popular girls all sitting together, talking, eating their Wonder Bread sandwiches... And while the pretty girls went to Brownies, I went to Greek school."

It's a scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, a movie Georgia Roberts describes as "my life." And it seems chillingly accurate. Georgia's life has been largely consumed by an unsuccessful -- and often outrageous -- struggle to break into the upper reaches of American life. And Georgia thrives on conflict. "My mother had me after eight miscarriages," she says pridefully. "That tells you... I am a force to be reckoned with."

After immigrating to Chicago in 1968, her father, Angelo, got a job at a steel mill and the family settled in a two-story rowhouse in a northside neighborhood dominated by Greeks and Jews. Georgia, who had a younger brother and sister, fell in love with the idea of America.

But she was still an ocean away from typical American life. She wanted to lounge in her pajamas and watch Saturday-morning cartoons but instead had to hustle off to Greek school. Her gruff father forbade her from wearing pajamas outside of bed anyway -- they were for sleeping only. The family didn't speak at dinner either. It was time to eat, not jabber. Such constrictions, products of the cloistered Greek culture, dictated not only the minutiae of her behavior but also seemingly her destiny. It was preordained that Georgia would marry a nice Greek boy, stay chaste until marriage, and always live within the culture's confines. Her mother, Helen, told her so.

"My mother was beautiful," Georgia remembers. "White skin, dark eyes, black hair. She was a true lady. She walked a step behind, and she never took over the situation. My mother knew her place, because in the Greek tradition, the husband was the dominant force."

When Georgia was 10 years old, her mother began leaving the house for hours on mysterious appointments, and her father began having long secretive phone conversations with her uncle Pete. She would hide in the dark, eavesdropping, but all she could make out were the words "to kako."  

The ruin of us.

When she was 12, her suspicion that her mom was sick was confirmed when her parents traveled to a place with a strange name. When neighbors told her that the "Mayo Clinic" was a hospital, it filled her with fear.

In her freshman year at Mather High School, the silence around the illness was broken. "My aunt Georgia took me for a walk around the block on a late Sunday, almost at dusk," she remembers. "She said I would have to be brave and I would have to take care of my brother and sister and that I would have to take the role of the mother. I said nothing. I did not cry. I was thinking, 'I don't believe I'm not going to have a mother.' I think I slept with my eyes open that night."

She breaks into tears at the memory. Georgia cries often. It comes quickly and leaves quickly, like the turning on and off of a high-pitched spigot.

While her mind was preoccupied with to kako, a boy from gym class named Brian Hooker asked her to go out. "He was a good-looking guy," she remembers. "He could have dated anybody -- anybody. He had green eyes, piercing eyes. He spoke to you with his eyes. And he was a very passionate kisser."

She found out that last part during regular stops in an alley behind her house. He would also feel her up, but the one time he tried to unzip her jeans, she stopped him.

There were serious problems with the romance. First, Brian wasn't Greek. Second, she had promised her mother that she wouldn't kiss a boy in high school. So it was all done in secret. Brian would pay his sister to call Georgia's house to trick Georgia's stern father, who wouldn't allow her to talk to boys. The secrecy added to the allure almost as much as it did to her guilt. "I did have fleeting thoughts of love and marriage," she says. "After the third time he told me he loved me, I said it back."

Brian, now a married contractor in Texas, says all he remembers about the relationship is Georgia's fear of her father. "I just thought it was unbelievable how he treated her and how overbearing he was," he says. "She was constantly afraid. He would make these threats, these physical threats, if she ever dated anybody."

After a few months, a neighbor saw them making out in the alley and told her father. She was caught.

"My father said he was going to break my legs," she recalls. "He said, 'We know what you've been doing; everybody knows what you've been doing. Cut it out.' I was ashamed."

That marked the end of the romance, though Georgia, who often boasts that she has a "photographic memory," says Brian also never had "true empathy" for her during her mother's illness and recalls that he didn't buy her candy when they went to see The Howling.

Brian would be the only boy she ever kissed in high school. "Yes, I liked him a lot," Georgia says, "but did I like him so much that I killed for him five years later? Impossible."

Georgia was 16 years old when her mother died. She never got to say goodbye.

"They took her clothes away and her things out of the house, and it was as if she never existed," she says. "Hear no evil, see no evil. I didn't find out she died of cancer until I was 18."

She begins to cry: "And it's very, very, very difficult -- very difficult -- to watch your mother melt away from day to day to day."

The sophomore did what her aunt told her to do. She took on the role of mother, caring for her overbearing papa and younger siblings. To this day, Georgia, a woman prone to Freudian slips, almost always refers to her father, who speaks little English and still lives in the same house in Chicago, as her "husband" before correcting herself.

She tried out to be a majorette, but after only two weeks of practice, her father made her quit. She had too many household duties for such kid stuff. Her social life was largely confined to a group of girls who called themselves the "Greek Connection."

"We ruled. The boys loved talking to us and toying with us verbally," she remembers. "We looked down on some of the Jewish girls and the partiers and the cokeheads. We weren't going to go out at night and smoke and drink to validate ourselves. We went to the mall to drink iced tea on a Sunday and make a day of it. We felt like ladies, not high school gals.  

"We had Louis Vuitton handbags, and we all had Gloria Vanderbilt pants, and we shopped at the Limited. That was our thing. That was our life. We didn't go to AC/DC concerts or Ozzy Osbourne concerts and bite the heads off bats. We were 17, but we behaved like 24-year-olds. We used Sweet'n Low -- that was our high."

Brian Hooker, meanwhile, continued a normal high school existence, if there is such a thing. He began dating one of the most popular girls at Mather High, Angela Puccetti, who had blossomed from a rather plain-looking kid with buck teeth and braces into a beauty. With blond highlights in her light-brown hair, she was the head cheerleader and went to all the important parties. Brian escorted Angela when she was voted homecoming queen during her junior year.

But the queen, say her old friends, put on no airs -- she is portrayed as a kind of Everygirl darling of the school, the daughter of a butcher and a nurse, a girl who wasn't just pretty but also kind-hearted. In the 1983 high school yearbook, she was pictured with her crown and sash under the caption "Isn't She Lovely."

Georgia became enemies with Angela over Brian. When Angela heard that Georgia called her a bitch, they fought in the hallway, pulling hair and knocking each other around. But Georgia says they quickly made up, and today, she seems to revere Angela: "She wasn't your average conceited homecoming queen -- she was special. She was truly an all-American girl."

But resentment mixes in the admiration.

"She had a big nose and a high forehead, but she was truly a beautiful person. And she had Brian's heart from 'hello'... The only reason she won [homecoming queen] was that her brother got all the stinking freshmen to vote for her," she snarls.

It's not just Angela's relationship with Brian that seems still to rankle her. Georgia despises cheerleaders in general. "Those cheerleaders were big fat cows," she recalls. "Well, three of them were fat; one was a dork. The only pretty one was Angela... Cheerleaders always end up fat."

Shortly after saying this, she confesses: "Of course, secretly, we all wish we were cheerleaders."

At the end of her senior year, Georgia befriended Angela, helping Mather High's head cheerleader land a job in a Greek store called the North Water Market, where they both would work as cashiers.

After graduation, Georgia began to embrace the people she'd sneered at during high school. She drove Angela around town in her little blue Chevy Monza, and the homecoming queen gave Georgia entrée into real American life. For the first time, the Greek girl drank into the night and acted like a teenager. The pair became close.

"Georgia didn't have that many friends," remembers Mary Puccetti, Angela's mother. "My daughter introduced her into her circle. But Angela's friends didn't really like Georgia. My daughter felt bad for her."

Georgia studied psychology at the University of Illinois while Angela took journalism classes at Columbia College in Chicago. "Angela would have liked to have been a broadcaster in television," says Angela's mother, before drawing an eerie parallel. "You know, something like Kristi Krueger."

Soon, Georgia's home life became unbearable after her father married a 28-year-old woman. Her new stepmother "was a Greek peasant girl, and my father was a big catch," she says, her voice dripping with bitterness. "It made me rebel harder against my father and Greek life."

The same year, Georgia moved out of her father's house and into a second-floor apartment with Laura Peveler, another blond beauty from high school. Peveler, now a divorced mother of two living in the Midwest, says she immediately began to notice peculiarities in Georgia. The roommate wouldn't just borrow clothes; she'd wear her underwear. Peveler says she tried to help Georgia -- whom she remembers as unstylish and unhygienic -- pretty herself up, but then it got weird: "One day, I came home and Georgia had dyed her hair blond, and she cut her hair and styled it like mine... When I saw her, I was disgusted, but I just let it go.

"Have you seen the movie Single White Female? That would be Georgia. She told me that she was angry at her mother for dying and she had a bad relationship with her father. I think she wants a new family so badly that she just pushes herself into people's lives and [then] she wants to take them over. She acts like them, she dresses like them, everything."  

After about four months, Peveler moved out of the apartment. Just before the move, Georgia filed for a gun license, and Peveler's older sister, who was 21, cosigned for her. She says now that she thought it would be "fun" to have one. Laura Heller, an acquaintance who was closer to Angela, remembers Georgia telling her about her plans. "Georgia Roberts was a strange girl -- she was flighty, and she was not very bright," Heller recounts. "She did silly stupid things. When Georgia told me she was going to buy a gun, I knew it was a bad idea, and I told her that."

As Georgia flirted with the idea, she and Peveler began battling over furniture. Georgia avoided her former roommate and changed the locks. She says the dispute prompted her to order a black Mossberg .410 pump shotgun. "She is the devil incarnate," Georgia says of Peveler.

On January 16, 1986, Georgia picked up the shotgun at a store called Sportmart. The salesman, Frank Palmieri, later told police that he showed Georgia how to load the firearm and explained the safety mechanism. He also said she seemed nervous and impatient.

Back at the apartment, she loaded the gun, pumped it, and put it under her bed with the safety on red -- which meant it was ready to fire. "The gun made me feel in control," Georgia says. "I wanted to show it to that bitch Laura Peveler and say, 'Come back again, bitch; I dare you.' That would have kept her away once and for all. I would have loved for that bitch to see that gun -- my shiny, big, black toy."

Peveler says the furniture wasn't that big an issue. "I didn't hate Georgia," she says. "I was indifferent to Georgia."

That evening, Georgia had Angela stay at the apartment in case Peveler returned. At 10 p.m., Georgia came home and found Angela, who had been studying, with her books packed. Georgia took her into the bedroom and showed her the new, shiny, big, black toy. Mary Puccetti says her daughter was terrified of guns, but Georgia says she was "interested."

"Angela was always curious -- you know, she used to look in people's medicine cabinets," Georgia says. "When I pulled out the gun, she said, 'Is the safety on this thing on or what?' She was nonchalant about it. If it was a handgun, we would have both been more on alert. But this was like a toy. Even the shells were plastic, not like real bullets."

As Angela sat at the foot of her bed, Georgia stood over her and did an incredible thing: She pointed the gun at her friend's head and pulled the trigger.

After falling backward from the explosion, Georgia saw Angela on her back on the bed, gurgling for breath. "I just thought, 'What did I just do? What just happened?' I looked at Angela. There was no blood on her face. It was all near the back of the head. There was a ton of stuff running off the mattress. It was brown. It was like a leak, this brown stuff coming like water from the back of her head.

"God was protecting me in some way. If I would have been exposed to -- if something happened to her face and I saw it, I could have been in the [mental] hospital for months."

The blast of pellets struck Angela just above the hairline. In addition to the pool forming behind Angela's head, blood and brain matter sprayed the wall and ceiling. A piece of skull landed on a nearby heating unit. Scalp and hair were blown to the floor. Though she now remembers differently, Georgia told police she fell forward onto Angela before dropping the gun and running screaming into the hallway. A neighbor called 911.

Angela was rushed to nearby St. Francis Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 12:15 a.m. Georgia was taken to the Chicago Police Department, where she told police she "playfully" pointed the gun at Angela and pulled the trigger, not believing it would fire. She told detectives that, even after reading the instructions and hearing the salesman's lecture, she believed that a red safety meant the gun was "stopped just like a traffic light." As for pumping it, she said that on the nighttime soap opera Dynasty, one of her favorite shows, they always said "pull" when firing their hunting rifles, so she thought having the pump cocked forward meant it wouldn't fire.

After a detective told Georgia that Angela had died, she became hysterical and made a bizarre request: She wanted him to call Brian Hooker. The detective obliged. Nova Lanktree, Brian's mother, remembers the time on the coffeemaker clock when she received the call: 3:13 a.m. The first thing she heard were Georgia's blood-curdling screams in the background.  

"This is the Chicago police," the detective said. "Is Brian there?"

Lanktree put her son on the phone.

"Brian literally crumbled," she recalls. "I was holding him, and it was as if the life was taken out of him. The whole household woke up, and we were just devastated. We were all sobbing, dumbfounded, in shock. We stayed up all night."

Georgia gave police a statement and signed herself into the Chicago Reed Mental Health Center. The day after the shooting, she made several strange calls, one of them to Peveler. "Georgia said she thought that she had killed me when she killed Angela," Peveler remembers. "She said she thought [Angela] was spinning around the room like a ballerina, and her face kept changing. She said the last face she saw was mine, and that's when she pulled the trigger."

The next day, Georgia called her again.

"She was trying to get me on her side to say it was an accident, and I wasn't going to have any part of it," Peveler explains. "She said she was going to kill me the same way she killed Angela."

From Reed, Georgia also called Lanktree, whom she'd never met, to ask about her son, and she dialed up Mary Puccetti to tell her the shooting was a "joke" gone awry. To this day, Peveler, Lanktree, and Mary Puccetti complain that detectives ignored their suspicions that Georgia had killed Angela out of jealousy.

"Immediately, I thought she killed my daughter on purpose," Mary Puccetti says. "I thought it was odd that she was showing her a gun, and it happens to shoot her in the head. But the Chicago police detectives basically told me to go to hell in not so many words.

"I think [Georgia] was jealous of Angela. Angela had a lot of friends, she had Brian, she had parents that cared about her. I think she wanted to have a life like Angela."

Police disagreed.

"Everything points to it being an accident," then-Sgt. Francis O'Connor said in a Chicago Tribune article published the day after Angela's death. "She had a license. Everything's legit."

Four days after the shooting, prosecutors decided not to charge her with murder. Georgia was released from the hospital on January 28, the day the space shuttle Challenger exploded. She never returned to the scene of the shooting, but she didn't cut ties to Angela's friends or family.

On February 3, she surprised Brian at a neighborhood bus stop and told him about a dream she'd had of him standing over Angela's grave. Georgia thought Brian was going to kill himself, so she sought him out to tell him the shooting was a "joke," hoping this would cause him to yell at her. She believed the reaction would relieve her own guilt, according to police reports. Then she told Brian he was going to kill himself. "Let me do it for you," she told him, "and then I'm going next."

Georgia explains her bizarre behavior: "My brain was scrambled after the accident," she says. "I've never been the same."

Psychiatrist Bennett Braun also diagnosed her as having multiple personalities. Georgia remembers that, in addition to her "regular self," there was an evil troublemaker named "Jeorgia" and an innocent child named "Gula." Perhaps it was Jeorgia who visited Brian on the steps of his apartment building many weeks after the shooting. "She told me that she didn't know why, but she had to pull the trigger," he says. "At first, I just thought it had to be an accident, but as time went by, I just couldn't understand it. How could a person point a shotgun at someone's head and pull the trigger by accident?"

Georgia denies ever saying she "had to" pull the trigger. Six weeks after the shooting, police charged her with reckless conduct for the shooting, and she was sentenced to a year's probation.

To this day, Georgia blames Peveler for Angela's death: "That roommate from hell might as well have pulled the trigger. She is the original stalker's stalker."

Peveler says her ex-roommate set out to ruin her life after Angela's death: "She had everyone believing it was somehow my fault. The entire class of '84 ostracized me."

The two young women would be entangled in conflict and legal battles for nearly four years. Peveler claims that Georgia followed her mercilessly, often threatening her life. She filed misdemeanor phone harassment and death threat charges against Georgia, alleging her former roommate had said things like "I killed the wrong girl" and "It's going to take me two minutes to kill you, bitch."  

Peveler says she caught Georgia going through her trash in the middle of the night in an alley. She says Georgia also posted hundreds of photocopies of Peveler's photograph -- with epithets like "thief" and "murderer" written on them -- in the hallway of her condo. "They went all the way up to the ceiling, and I still have no idea how she got up there," Peveler says. "She put them on all the cars in the parking lot and in the bushes too. I just cried."

It got so bad that her family put her on a Greyhound bus in the middle of the night to stay with relatives in Kentucky for a couple of weeks, Peveler claims. Georgia denies any of this happened, though she admits once angrily telling Peveler's sister during a chance meeting in traffic that the "wrong girl" had died.

As that drama played out in the summer of 1987, Georgia surprised Mary Puccetti during a visit to her daughter's grave. "She started convincing me that it was an accident," the mother recalls of the meeting at the headstone. "She said that she loved Angela and she never hurt her intentionally. She manipulated me, since I really didn't want to believe that someone would shoot a friend in the head on purpose. If I wouldn't have accepted that it was an accident, I would have cracked up."

They struck up a friendship, and the Puccettis allowed Georgia to move into Angela's room in their home. "I felt sorry for her," Mary Puccetti explains, "so I took her in."

Even Georgia says it was strange sleeping in Angela's bed: "It was weird that they let me stay in Angela's bedroom -- that part of it kind of creeped me out a little bit."

About that time, Brian happened to pass Georgia on the street. He didn't recognize her until she called his name. "She had blond hair, and it was styled just like Angela's," he says. "Her clothes looked like something Angela might wear. And then I remembered that she was supposed to be living in Angela's house. I was disgusted."

The dispute with Peveler raged on. Georgia decided to contact the Lerner News, a small community newspaper on the north side of Chicago, and talked to reporter Gary Roberts, who did an article sympathetic to Georgia headlined, "Tragic nightmare won't go away." "I used to have dreams, but they are all gone," Georgia is quoted as saying in the story, which was published July 6, 1988. "My freedom and my sanity are the only things I have now, and all this is in jeopardy."

On November 1, 1988, Georgia filed a battery charge against Peveler, saying she'd beaten her up in a nightclub bathroom. While Georgia says her nose was broken, the accused says it never happened. "I never saw her there, and I never touched her," Peveler insists. "That girl must have pulverized herself or had someone else do it for her."

The charges were dropped, but the trouble continued. On November 16, 1988, a letter with no return address was mailed to Georgia at her father's house with words cut out from newspapers that said, "Your mental ill... You R Murder homicide criminal... I we will put you in Jail again."

After that, Georgia sued Peveler twice for malicious prosecution and defamation. The lawsuits were settled in August 1989, when Peveler agreed to write a letter of apology to Georgia. "As I am in the process of moving out of state, it is my hope that any differences between us can come to an end and we can both go on with our lives," she wrote.

Mary Puccetti was also ready for Georgia to get on with her life, or lives, as it were: "She would pretend to be one person and then another person, and it was getting on my nerves. One was a little girl's voice, one was a mean woman, one was real nice, one was kind of ditzy... it was crazy."

Georgia now says Braun's diagnosis was wrong and points to the fact that his medical license was suspended in 1999 after a flurry of malpractice lawsuits.

Whether or not the diagnosis was genuine, Mary Puccetti says she and her husband could no longer take Georgia's voices -- or her constant court activity. They told her to move out after about six months.

"If she had put half that energy into going to law school, she could have been a lawyer," Angela's mother says. "And she would have made a good one."  

The reason Georgia pulled the trigger will likely never be known. It might have been a mistake or a prank gone awry, as Georgia suggested to police. Or it might have sprung from a deep-seated desire to take over Angela's life and boyfriend, as some believe. Or she might have killed Angela in the place of Peveler, as the alleged phone call to her ex-roommate suggests.

It's a mystery that private investigator Wayne Black, a former Miami-Dade police officer who was hired by Kristi Krueger's family to scour Georgia's background, wants to solve. After his three assistants dug up reams of information on Georgia during several trips to Chicago, Black began to favor the theory that Georgia pulled the trigger out of jealousy over Brian Hooker. The investigator flew to Chicago last month to urge police to take a new look at the case.

Black contends that Georgia's fixation on Krueger was a continuation of the pattern that started with Angela. The similarities are obvious: Both were blond, involved in some way with journalism, and, while Angela was a cheerleader, Georgia would later describe Krueger as a "cheerleader type."

Black's work for Krueger torments Georgia.

"He is running around like Mark Fuhrman trying to get me," she cries, her voice trembling with emotion. "I could lose my children. What does Wayne Black know? He doesn't know anything."

Mary Puccetti says she would welcome criminal charges against Georgia -- but only if there were more proof. "The evidence isn't there right now," she says.

Brian feels the same way: "If there was intent to kill her, what kind of intent was it? It's really hard to know."

Laura Heller says it's impossible to know. "We've all played it out in our heads, and all we have is conjecture," she says. "You know how sometimes when you drive over a bridge, you think, 'If I just turned the wheel, it would be that simple'? Did she think of what she could do in that one split second and pull the trigger? No one knows but Georgia."

But even Georgia says she doesn't know. "Ultimately, I was responsible, but there is no way I made a conscious decision to pull that trigger," Georgia insists. "But was it unconscious? That is what all these questions have made me wonder. Did I have resentment toward Angela? I don't think so. I had no clue. It wasn't like I was bearing down and preparing to execute this poor girl."

As the years passed, Georgia remained in the grips of an identity crisis. In 1992, she even gave herself a new name: Georgia Forbes, telling people that her new identity was in honor of an ex-boyfriend named "Johnny Forbes," who had been decapitated in a motorcycle crash.

The only problem: He never existed. Peveler suspects this was more Single White Female behavior, since she -- not Georgia -- had a boyfriend who died in a motorcycle accident during high school. Georgia now claims that the story was a blend of fact and fiction that had nothing to do with Peveler. She says it was all about rebelling against her father and "Greekness."

"I did see someone wipe out on Lake Shore Drive, but I don't think his head was fully cut off," she recalls. "I think I chose Forbes because it was such an all-American name."

But the new name didn't solve her problems. That same year came an ugly legal battle with a boyfriend. Georgia agreed to a contract with the boyfriend and accepted money to compensate her pain and suffering but later claimed the document was invalid because she wasn't herself when she signed it. "When Georgia Forbes is in a dissociative state, she has NO RECOLLECTION of events because she is in the form of another personality," she wrote in court papers, adding that the personalities "pride themselves as unique individuals 'outside' of Forbes."

The only constant in her life, it seems, was the reporter, Roberts, whom she began dating when he wrote about her. Georgia describes Roberts, who is 14 years her senior, as a "father figure," and they had a stormy on-again, off-again romance. Georgia once even charged Roberts with sexual assault, alleging he date-raped her. That case was dropped, but she also had him charged with several counts of misdemeanor battery and property crimes in the early '90s, claiming Roberts would manhandle her during drunken rages. A judge ordered him to treatment for alcoholism.

Through it all, the couple somehow always got back together, and in 1995, Roberts fathered Georgia's twins, Kyle and Kylee. It was an unplanned pregnancy, but it finally gave Georgia an identity she relished: mother. But even her children didn't come without a fight; she sued the hospital for malpractice after a traumatic labor. "[Doctors] told me afterward, 'By the way, we took out your uterus,'" she remembers. "I said, 'What do you mean you took out my fucking uterus?' Whoever heard of such a thing?"  

As she recounts the story, she begins to cry. "My little boy and little girl are all I have, and Kristi Krueger is trying to take that away from me. God meant for me to be a mother to a little girl and little boy. My whole life revolves around my children -- my children -- and this bitch is getting in the way of that."

Georgia raised the children on her own, determined to give them a distinctly American upbringing. "I do live vicariously through my children," she says. "On Saturdays, we lay around in our pajamas watching cartoons, which I could never do. It soothes me."

In 1998, Georgia and the twins left Chicago with a new boyfriend and came to Pembroke Pines, where she would play out a familiar drama. Only this time, it would involve her favorite TV newswoman.

Next week: Georgia embraces suburban life in South Florida, becomes fixated on Kristi Krueger, goes to jail, and prevails at trial.

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