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.

Rossville Exchange Club Officer of the Year Award 2015

Pictured from left to right: Alan Norton (Assistant District Attorney), James Harris (Special Agent, Georgia Bureau of Investigation), Johnny Lanham (Detective, Fort Oglethorpe Police Department), Tammy Davis (Detective, Fort Oglethorpe Police Department),  David Eubanks (Chief of Police, Fort Oglethorpe Police Department), and Steve Blevins (Commander, Detective Division, Fort Oglethorpe Police Department).

On March 5, 2015, the Rossville Exchange Club presented its Officer of the Year Award to Detectives Tammy Davis and Johnny Lanham of the Fort Oglethorpe Police Department, Special Agent James Harris of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Assistant District Attorney Alan Norton of the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office.

This group was nominated by Steve Blevins, the Commander of the detective division of the Fort Oglethorpe Police Department.  The letter of nomination stated that Davis and Lanham were originally assigned to investigate an alleged embezzlement by Deborah Holt in her position as the manager of the Gateway Mall in Catoosa County.   The detectives discovered Holt was having an extramarital affair with a local public official, Mark Lindsay, the chief building inspector for the City of Fort Oglethorpe.   Holt admitted that she had provided Lindsay with many gifts from the embezzled proceeds.  Police Chief David Eubanks, upon realizing that the investigation might lead to the arrest and prosecution of a city official, requested the assistance of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.  Special Agent James Harris was assigned to assist.  The joint investigation led not only to the arrest, prosecution, guilty plea and imprisonment of Holt but also to the arrest, prosecution, conviction and imprisonment of Lindsay.  The investigation revealed Lindsay had even used some of the stolen money to finance an unsuccessful run for public office in Fort Oglethorpe.  Commander Blevins noted the inherent difficulties in prosecuting a local public official in a small town and further observed that it was the unwavering dedication of the officers and the prosecutor to the pursuit of the truth and justice that led to the appropriate outcome.

Mark Lindsay Convicted and Sentenced

Mark Timothy Lindsay, age 48, was tried before Judge Ralph Van Pelt, Jr., in the Superior Court of Catoosa County, Georgia for multiple offenses of Theft by Receiving Stolen Property. The two day bench trial was concluded on January 14, 2015, with convictions for five counts of felony Theft by Receiving Stolen Property and two misdemeanor counts of Theft by Receiving Stolen Property.

The evidence disclosed that beginning in September of 2005, Lindsay, while employed as the chief building inspector for the City of Fort Oglethorpe, began an extra-marital affair with Deborah Holt.  Holt was the manager of Market Place Leasing, LLC doing business as Gateway Mall in Catoosa County.  Holt embezzled large sums of money from her employer.  Lindsay received stolen items from Holt over a period of time with an estimated value of between $50,000 and $75,000.  When interviewed by Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent James Harris, Holt disclosed that Lindsay would ask Holt for specific items and Holt would secure those items for Lindsay.  A search of Lindsay’s residence by the Fort Oglethorpe Police Department located the majority of the stolen property.

On January 14, 2015, Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Ralph Van Pelt, Jr. sentenced Lindsay to serve ten (10) years in the Georgia State Prison System.

Lindsay was represented by Mr. Larry B. Hill and Mr. William Davis Hentz, attorneys from Lafayette, Georgia.

The case was prosecuted by Catoosa County Senior Assistant District Attorney, Alan C. Norton.

Herbert E. (Buzz) Franklin
District Attorney
Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit

Marcus Eugene Sutton Enters Guilty Pleas

On November 6, 2014, Marcus Eugene Sutton, age 21, entered pleas of guilty in three separate pending criminal cases in the Superior Court of Walker County.  Judge Jon B. Wood sentenced Sutton to an aggregate sentence of 40 years with the first 30 years to be served in the custody of the Georgia Department of Corrections with the balance of 10 years to be served on probation.

On September 29, 2013, Sutton and Tyler Roberts called Terrance Dillard via cellphone and told him they were coming to kill him.  The two drove to an apartment building in Rossville, Georgia, where they believed Dillard to be.  Sutton stopped the car in the roadway where Roberts got out and fired several shots into the apartments.  After the shooting, Dillard told officers with the Rossville Police Department that he was across the street at the time and witnessed the shooting.  Shell casings from a .40 caliber firearm were recovered at the scene.  Later, Dillard denied having witnessed anything.  No gun was ever recovered.  Sutton entered pleas of guilty to three counts of Aggravated Assault and one count of Criminal Damage to Property in the First Degree.  He received a sentence of 20 years with the first 10 years to be served in custody, to be served consecutively to his sentence on the Voluntary Manslaughter charge.

On October 30, 2013, while at a residence in Rossville, Georgia, Sutton got into an argument with Anderson Watts.  Sutton shot Watts seven times with a .40 caliber handgun and Watts died as a result of these wounds.  Sutton immediately fled the scene.  A joint investigation by the Walker County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was commenced.  Ultimately, the investigation led state and federal authorities in both Georgia and Tennessee to begin an intensive search for Sutton.  On November 5, 2012, Sutton was discovered hiding in the residence located on Fifth Avenue in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  He was taken into custody by officers with the Chattanooga Police Department and the United States Marshal Fugitive Task Force.  Sutton was transported to the Walker County jail.  No weapon was ever recovered in connection with the shooting.  Sutton entered a plea of guilty to a charge of Voluntary Manslaughter in connection with the shooting death of Watts and received the maximum sentence of 20 years to be served in confinement.

On March 27, 2014, while in the custody of the Walker County jail on the above charges, Sutton and another inmate, Brandon Chase Lonas, assaulted a third inmate, Steven Adam Powell.  This assault resulted in significant injuries to Powell.  Sutton entered pleas of guilty to charges of Riot in a Penal Institution and Aggravated Assault.  On these charges, Sutton was sentenced to serve 20 years with the first 10 years to be served in custody, consecutive to the sentence for Voluntary Manslaughter and concurrently with his sentences for shooting into the apartments.

The cases were prosecuted by District Attorney Herbert E. (Buzz) Franklin.  The defendant was represented by David Dunn, Chief Public Defender.

Steven Lee Waldemer

On September 30, 2014, Steven Lee Waldemer entered pleas of guilty to two separate indictments accusing him of Aggravated Battery on a Peace Officer, Aggravated Assault on a Peace Officer (3 counts), Harming a Police Dog, Possession of Explosives by a Convicted Felon, Sexual Battery, and other related charges.  Waldemer also consented to a forfeiture of his real property where the crimes occurred and other personal property.  Basically, Waldemer received sentences of fifty years with the first twenty-five years to be served in custody.

On June 12, 2014, a female neighbor of Steven Waldemer came to Waldemer’s residence in the Head River community of Walker County with her seven year old son.  While the son was outside feeding some goats, Waldemer physically assaulted her and told the woman he intended to have sex with her.  The woman cried out for her son who rushed back to his mother.  Waldemer struck the son in the head, knocking him to the floor.  The woman pulled her son outside with her.  Waldemer chased her down and wrestled her to the ground and put her in a chokehold.  He forced her back into the residence.  Using the threat of a shotgun and a handgun, Waldemer forced the woman to submit to various sexual acts.  Eventually, she prevailed upon Waldemer to release her upon a promise that she would not say anything about what had happened.

Shortly after securing her release from Waldemer, the victim notified local authorities of what had occurred.  It was discovered that Waldemer was on parole out of Idaho for a kidnapping.  Given the fact that Waldemer was heavily armed, the Walker County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team together with local parole officers mobilized to serve a parole warrant and a sexual assault warrant on Waldemer at his residence.  After Waldemer refused the police commands via loud speaker to come out, officers deployed pepper spray canisters into the residence.  Waldemer still refused to come out.  Finally officers approached the residence and shouted they were sending a police K9 into the house.  Waldemer shot the police dog, “Tanja”, as she entered the house with a shotgun blast that also injured Deputy Donnie Brown.  Tanja died as a result of the shooting.  Waldemer escaped out a back window and was ultimately arrested nearby.  Waldemer had a SKS rifle in his possession at the time of arrest.  At his residence, Waldemer had a large quantity of explosive materials and firearms.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Beth Evans and the Defendant was represented by John Robert Greco of Marietta, Georgia.

Gary Lynn Kritlow

          Gary Lynn Kritlow, Jr., age 39, was tried before a jury in the Superior Court of Catoosa County, Georgia, for the offenses of Aggravated Sodomy, Aggravated Sexual Battery, Aggravated Assault with the Intent to Commit Rape, False Imprisonment, and Sexual Battery. The three day jury trial was concluded on June 26, 2014, with convictions on all counts.

          The evidence disclosed that on December 16, 2013, Kritlow, who was doing work at the adult female victim’s residence, forced the victim into a bathroom in the residence.  Kritlow then forcibly penetrated the victim and committed forcible sodomy upon the adult victim.  Although Kritlow denied any sexual contact with the victim, forensic analysis revealed that seminal fluid recovered from the victim’s clothing was a DNA match to known samples of Kritlow’s DNA.

          Kritlow had multiple prior convictions for illicit sexual contact with minors and an adult female from the states of Florida, Alabama, and Tennessee.  On July 11, 2014, Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Ralph Van Pelt, Jr. sentenced Kritlow to serve the remainder of his natural life in the state prison system without the possibility of parole.

          Gary Lynn Kritlow, Jr., was represented at trial by Sean J. Lowe 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.