Denson enters plea of guilty to felony murder

Steven Marcus Denson, 43, pled guilty on May 18, 2017, to felony murder in the Walker County Superior Court before the Honorable Don W. Thompson.  Denson killed his wife Christina Michelle Denson at their home on Kemp Road in November 2015.  The victim was discovered on November 22, 2015 after Denson told a friend that he had shot his wife.

Denson admitted shooting his wife and told detectives it was accidental, but his explanation was inconsistent with the physical evidence.  Denson was a convicted felon and should not have been in possession of a firearm under Georgia law.

Denson did not call for medical help for his wife and made efforts to conceal the crime.  He hid the victim’s vehicle in the woods so it appeared she was gone from the residence.  Denson cleaned the floor and dressed the victim in clean clothes.  He hid the handgun in a shop building on the property. The shooting occurred several days prior to the discovery of the victim.

Christina Denson had told friends prior to her death that her husband would pull a gun on her during arguments.  She also confided that he had hit her in the leg with a shotgun.  When her body was discovered there were multiple bruises on her arm and legs.

Denson was sentenced by Judge Thompson to serve the remainder of his natural life in prison.  He will not be eligible for parole until November 2045. Christopher A. Townley represented the defendant.  Detective Allen Ellenburg of the Walker County Sheriff’s Office was the primary investigator on the case.  Assistant District Attorney Beth Evans handled the case for the State of Georgia.

Barbara Michelle Pemberton enters guilty plea and is sentenced – May 1, 2017

Barbara Michelle Pemberton was indicted in Walker County, Georgia, with Murder in the Second Degree and Cruelty to Children in the Second Degree arising from the death of her thirteen month old grandson, Shadoe Braxton Pate, whom she had left unattended in a car for several hours on January 12, 2015.  The indictment alleged Pemberton acted negligently in leaving the child unattended in a car seat in the vehicle while she visited with friends.  Pemberton had no previous criminal history and both parents of the deceased child requested that she not be sentenced to serve any time in custody for this offense.  The State recommended that Pemberton be sentenced to serve ten years on probation under the First Offender’s Act with a fine of $2500 and the special condition that she not be a caretaker for any child under ten years of age.  After a sentencing hearing, which included testimony about Pemberton’s chronic medical condition of sarcoidosis, an autoimmune disorder, Judge Kristina C. Graham accepted the recommendation and sentenced Pemberton accordingly.  The defendant was represented by Christopher Townley, an attorney with an office in Rossville, Georgia.  The State was represented by District Attorney Herbert E. (Buzz) Franklin.

Brooks and Demott enter pleas of guilty in connection with the death of Duane Hollenbeck

Robert Martin Brooks, age 39, entered a plea of guilty to the offense of Voluntary Manslaughter, and Jennifer Allison Demott, age 26, entered a plea of guilty to the offense of Aggravated Assault on April 10, 2017 in the Superior Court of Catoosa County.

On December 12, 2015, fifty-nine (59) year old Duane Hollenbeck of Dryden, New York was found deceased in the Chickamauga National Battlefield  in a wooded area off of Alexander Bridge Road. Several days earlier, a missing person report was filed with the New York State Police concerning Hollenbeck by his neighbor and part-time caretaker. The New York State Police attempted to locate Hollenbeck via his cellular telephone and the last time Hollenbeck’s cellular telephone connected to a cellular tower was on December 8, 2015, to a cellular tower that was in close proximity to the Chickamauga National Battlefield.

Investigators with the New York State Police determined Hollenbeck left the Dryden, New York area on December 5, 2015, in the company of Brooks and Demott. A review of the victim’s financial records showed that the victim’s financial resources were accessed in the State of Tennessee at multiple ATMs. A review of the ATM video indicated that Brooks was the individual accessing the victim’s bank account.

Agents of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, along with agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and officers of the Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia Police Department were able to locate the motels utilized by Brooks and Demott in the State of Tennessee and were able to secure video surveillance of Brooks and Demott with Hollenbeck. Interviews conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation disclosed that Brooks and Demott utilized the victim’s financial resources to purchase a large quantity of methamphetamine. Brooks and Demott, in addition to using the methamphetamine themselves, gave methamphetamine to the victim as well.

After Brooks and Demott were taken into custody by the New York State Police, Demott gave multiple interviews in which she implicated Brooks in the victim’s death. A Crime Scene Specialist with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation assisted by the New York State Police processed the vehicle, Brooks, Demott, and the victim travelled in, and located the victim’s wheelchair, cleaning supplies, and a receipt for men’s shoes from the Payless shoe store in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, which is in close proximity to where the victim was located. Surveillance video confirmed that on December 8, 2015, Jennifer Demott purchased men’s shoes at the Payless shoe store in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.

A medical examiner with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation determined that Hollenbeck’s death resulted from inflicted blunt force trauma with methamphetamine toxicity as a contributing factor. The medical examiner classified Hollenbeck’s death as a homicide.

On April 10, 2017, Senior Superior Court Judge F. Larry Salmon, sitting by appointment, sentenced Brooks  to serve twenty (20) years in the Georgia Department of Corrections, and sentenced Demott to serve ten (10) years in the Georgia Department of Corrections to be followed by an additional ten (10) years on probation.

Robert Martin Brooks was represented by Mr. Michael Webb, of Decatur, Georgia.

Jennifer Allison Demott was represented by Mr. Kristin Patten of the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit’s Public Defender’s Office.

The case was prosecuted by Catoosa County Senior Assistant District Attorney Alan C. Norton and Assistant District Attorney Deanna Reisman.

Davenport convicted of Malice Murder; Sentenced to Life Without Parole

On March 11, 2016, Brian Colby Davenport and Debora Lynn Abney appeared in the Juvenile Court for Catoosa County for a hearing to determine if their parental rights should be terminated concerning their minor children. Davenport was angry with Abney both during and after the hearing. That evening, the two were in a vehicle on Taylor’s Ridge when Davenport shot Abney in the right side of the back of the head with a .38 caliber handgun. After the shooting, Davenport called his mother, who then called the property owner who, in turn, called 911. Davenport attempted to stage the scene so it appeared Abney had committed suicide. Davenport placed the handgun in the victim’s left hand and cleaned up blood evidence inside the vehicle. The joint investigation by the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation revealed facts that made a suicide unlikely, if not impossible, including finding mud in the barrel of the handgun. During an interview with Detective Stockard of the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office, Davenport told multiple and inconsistent versions of events and admitted staging the scene by moving the gun. The investigation disclosed Davenport had a lengthy history of domestic abuse of the victim and other women in his life which included prior death threats to Ms. Abney.

The Catoosa County Grand Jury indicted Davenport for malice murder and related charges.

After a jury trial commencing on March 27, 2017, Davenport was convicted on all counts. The State of Georgia was represented by Chief Assistant District Attorney Chris Arnt. Davenport was represented by Assistant Public Defender Sean Lowe. At the sentencing hearing held on April 4, 2017, Judge Brian House imposed a sentence of Life without the possibility of parole for the murder charge and an additional ten years to be served consecutively on other charges.

Allen and McCray convicted of Malice Murder, Armed Robbery and other charges

A Chattooga County jury convicted Dylon Dave Allen and Zaykives Banard McCray of Malice Murder, Felony Murder, Armed Robbery, Aggravated Assault, and multiple other counts related to a January 15, 2016 incident at the Melanie Inn Convenience Store located on Hawkins Drive in Summerville.  That evening, Allen and McCray had arranged transportation from Rome to Summerville through Shannon Coalson and Thyis Green, acquaintances who were unaware of their intentions to rob a convenience store.  Allen and McCray entered the Melanie Inn Convenience store wearing masks and multiple layers of clothing.  Immediately upon entry, McCray shoved Melvin Fife, a customer, to the ground while Allen discharged one round from his firearm, striking the clerk, Chiragkumar Patel, in the abdomen.  The two men loaded items from the cash register area including cigars, cigarettes, lighters, and Doritos bags, and proceeded to beat and taunt Patel with their hands and with the firearm in an unsuccessful attempt to get him to open the cash register.  As they were exiting the convenience store, they encountered Kaine Darden, and pointed the firearm at him before running back towards their vehicle.

Mr. Patel later died from his gunshot wound.  A joint investigation between the Summerville Police Department and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation led to the arrest of Allen and McCray after they were identified by multiple eyewitnesses as being involved.   Items from the robbery, including cigars, cigarettes, and lighters were located in an apartment in Rome where Allen had been staying, and some of the items contained fingerprints belonging to McCray.  Additionally, while reviewing the surveillance video of the robbery, officers observed one of the robbers had a unique triangular birthmark on his hand which was matched to McCray.

Judge Kristina Cook Graham presided over the trial.  Allen was represented by Steve Miller, and McCray was represented by Jad Johnson.  The State was represented by Kevin Baugh and Chris Arnt.  The Defendants each received a sentence of Life plus 35 years in prison.

Gobert Convicted of Felony Murder and other charges

A Walker County trial jury convicted Michael James Gobert of Felony Murder, Aggravated Assault and multiple other counts related to an October 19, 2015 incident on Straight Gut Road in Rock Springs.  On that date in the late evening hours, Gobert heard voices arguing at the single-wide trailer residence of Nicole Carroll, his stepdaughter.  The residence was located immediately behind his residence.  Gobert grabbed a fully loaded Glock 22 and went outside to find three men getting into a vehicle in front of his stepdaughter’s residence. Mary Ann Gobert, the Defendant’s wife, came out with her own gun shortly after.  The Defendant yelled at the men to leave and fired a warning shot. One of the three men yelled an insult back at the Defendant that he was weak and wouldn’t shoot them.  Ms. Gobert fired a shot into the ground and yelled, “I can shoot.”

As the three men got in their car to leave, Gobert claimed he viewed this as an “aggressive maneuver” so he began to fire in rapid succession as the car backed away.  Gobert advanced on the car as he shot.  Gobert took a position along the drive, the only means of exit, and continued firing shots at the car as it veered sharply to the left to avoid Gobert.  One of the shots struck Johnny Montgomery, the driver, in the head.  Montgomery slumped over the steering wheel and the car crashed into an outbuilding. One of the shots struck Edrius Putnam, the front seat passenger, in his right leg.  Putnam jumped from the vehicle after it came to a stop and fled behind the outbuilding.  The Defendant fired shots at Putnam as he fled.  Deisman Harrison was located in the rear seat and was not struck by any of the 15 bullets which were fired at the car.  The Defendant raced to car and demanded that Harrison get out of the car and on his knees.  The Defendant berated Harrison as he begged for his life.

Ms. Gobert went to her daughter’s residence to discover Carroll had been in a physical altercation with Putnam.  Carroll’s chin had been cut when Putnam had thrown a dehumidifier at her as he left her trailer.  Ms. Gobert returned to the location where the Defendant was holding Harrison at gunpoint.  When informed of the injuries to his stepdaughter, the Defendant began to angrily yell at Harrison.

Ms. Gobert and several of the neighbors called 911.  Sgt. Kevin Denny of the Walker County Sheriff’s Office was the first officer on the scene.  The Defendant and his wife were still holding Harrison on the ground at gunpoint.  Sgt. Denny demanded that the Goberts drop their weapons and get on the ground.  They both complied.  As other officers arrived, Putnam came out from the area behind the outbuilding.

Montgomery died shortly from his gunshot wound.  The Defendant was arrested and charged with murder and multiple counts of aggravated assault.   Putnam was charged with simple battery.  His case is still pending.  The matter was investigated by the Walker County Sheriff’s Office with the assistance of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Judge Ralph Van Pelt presided over the trial.  The Defendant was represented by David Dunn and Robert Patten.  The State was represented by District Attorney Herbert (Buzz) Franklin.

The Defendant is being held in the Walker County Jail for a sentencing hearing.

Catherine Goins Sentenced to Life without Parole

Catherine Joann Goins, age 39, entered a guilty plea on May 13, 2016, in the Superior Court for Catoosa County, Georgia, before the Judge Ralph Van Pelt to the offenses of Malice Murder, Felony Murder, Armed Robbery, Aggravated Assault, and Kidnapping. Catherine Goins was sentenced to life in prison, without the possibility or benefit of parole.

Prior to the murder, Goins had attempted to arrange meetings with women who had infant children under the pretense of providing baby clothes.  Goins had posted ads on Craigslist for this purpose.  Goins was also falsely claimed to be pregnant and wore a prosthetic pregnancy belly to pass as being pregnant.  Goins was trolling to steal a baby.

On September 19, 2014, Goins met Natalia Roberts, a young mother of two children.  Goins invited Roberts to a residence in Catoosa County with the offer to give her baby clothes.  After the two entered the residence, Goins directed Roberts to go down a narrow stairwell and then shot Roberts in the back of the head with a .380 caliber pistol as she descended, killing Roberts instantly.  After killing Roberts, Goins stole Robert’s vehicle and took Roberts’ two children away from the residence for a brief period of time but ultimately returned.  Upon returning to the residence, Goins attempted to clean up the crime scene.   Goins initially told investigators with the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Department and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, that she killed Roberts in self-defense as Roberts was burglarizing the residence. The forensic evidence at the scene contradicted this claim.  Goins’ later confessed to Detective Daniel Thacker of the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office that the self-defense claim was untrue.

Catherine Joann Goins was represented by Ms. Jerilyn Bell and Ms. Crystal Bice of the Public Defender’s Capital Defender Office.

The case was prosecuted by Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Herbert E. (Buzz) Franklin, Chief Assistant District Attorney Christopher Allen Arnt, and Senior Assistant District Attorney Alan C. Norton.

Murder Conviction of Joshua Simpson Upheld

On January 19, 2016, the Supreme Court of Georgia affirmed the felony murder conviction of Joshua Samuel Simpson.  Simpson was convicted in the Walker County Superior Court on December 11, 2009 of the August 2008 murder of Michael Wyscaver on Carline Road, Rossville, Georgia.  Judge Ralph Van Pelt sentenced Simpson to life in prison.

Simpson killed Mr. Wyscaver by beating him to death with a computer monitor, a computer tower and two-by-fours.  Simpson then left Mr. Wyscaver’s body in the vacant house where the assault occurred and where the decomposing body was later discovered.

The defendant was represented by Doug Woodruff of the Public Defender’s Office.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Evans with the District Attorney’s Office.

Davida Caylor Conviction Upheld

Davida Caylor was convicted by a Catoosa County jury on March 19, 2014 for the offenses of Making a False Statement, Tampering with Evidence and Obstruction of an Officer.  The offenses arose out of an incident involving Caylor’s son at a local school in which the defendant made a false allegation about the extent of an injury to her son’s hand and then interfered with law enforcement’s efforts to gather evidence and information related to her claim.  The defendant was sentenced on May 7, 2014 and appealed her convictions.  The Court of Appeals of Georgia upheld her convictions in an unpublished opinion issued on December 23, 2015 and the remittitur was returned to the Catoosa County Superior Court Clerk on January 7, 2016.  The State was represented by Chief Assistant District Attorney Chris Arnt.  The defendant was represented by Richard K. Murray, an attorney from Dalton, Georgia.

Joshua Michael Fowler Pleads Guilty to Felony Murder

On May 7, 2015, Joshua Michael Fowler entered a plea of guilty to the murder of his grandmother, Joyce Fowler.  The plea was accepted by Superior Court Judge Jon B. Wood who sentenced the defendant to serve the remainder of his natural life in prison pursuant to the recommendation made by the State.  The facts from the joint investigation conducted by the Walker County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation revealed that the defendant had went to his grandmother’s residence in Chickamauga, Georgia, on or about March 30, 2014, to obtain money to pay various bills he owed for utilities and rent.  The defendant, who had a history of drug abuse, became angry when his grandmother refused to give him money and commented on his disheveled appearance.  The defendant grabbed a nearby metal pipe and struck his grandmother in the head several times, resulting in her death.  The defendant was represented by Ringgold attorney McCracken Poston.  The State was represented by District Attorney Herbert E. (Buzz) Franklin.