CHATSWORTH, Ga. — A Murray County man who shot and killed his estranged wife and then shot himself in the face during a standoff with law enforcement pleaded guilty to malice murder on Thursday and was sentenced to life in prison. Oliver Scott Cannon will have to serve 30 years from the date of his arrest before being considered for parole.
Cannon, 58, was sentenced by Chief Superior Court Judge William T. Boyett. He had been charged with two counts of murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. District Attorney Bert Poston said Cannon pleaded guilty to the one count of malice murder and the rest of the charges were dropped.
Cannon shot Johnnie Shoemaker Cannon "once through the heart," Poston said in a press release, in the yard of the house where she was living on Sept. 25, 2017. According to a family member, the two were separated at the time. The shooting led to a standoff that included the Georgia State Patrol's SWAT team surrounding Cannon’s home on Holly Creek Drive in the Spring Place community.
Poston said Cannon’s daughter Lorie Basler spoke passionately about her mother, and more than 20 members of the victim’s family attended Thursday’s plea calendar hearing. Poston said a dozen family members filed “victim impact” statements with the court.
Cannon did not speak at the hearing, but his attorney, Alicia Lanier-Shurley, said the plea was best for him and his family.
“This was a tragedy,” Lanier-Shurley said. “This was the best resolution to not have to make his family relive the tragedy of that. He was very remorseful to his children. It is just a tragic situation.”
Poston said if the case had gone to trial and Cannon had been found guilty, he could have been sentenced to life without parole. Poston said the victim’s family approved of the negotiated plea to end the case without a trial.
New details of the investigation were brought to light that prosecutors were prepared to present had the case gone to trial. Poston said the husband and wife had been separated over prescription pill abuse by Oliver Cannon, and the night before the murder he had told family members how upset he was with Johnnie Cannon over her leaving, and threatened to kill her.
“Those red flags, obviously, were not taken seriously,” Poston said.
Poston said the morning of the shooting Oliver Cannon took a gun from his daughter’s home and went to where his wife had been staying at her brother’s home on Highland Way off of Leonard Bridge Road. The two argued, and Poston said Oliver Cannon shot his wife once in the heart.
Law enforcement found Oliver Cannon at his trailer, and during the standoff he admitted to shooting his wife. Several canisters of tear gas were used at the end of the nearly three-hour standoff, and Murray County Sheriff Gary Langford said it ended when Cannon shot himself and then walked out onto the porch of the trailer and surrendered.
The self-inflicted wound went under his jaw and split the lower jawbone in half. Poston called it "an apparent but unsuccessful suicide attempt."