State Supreme Court denies Tunnel Hill man's appeal of murder conviction

Charmane Goins

The Supreme Court of Georgia has upheld the malice murder conviction and life prison sentence of a Tunnel Hill resident who was found guilty of strangling and burning the body of his mistress, a former Dalton resident, before dumping the body in a park in Stone Mountain in 2014.

Charmane D. Goins was found guilty of malice murder, felony murder and aggravated assault by a Gwinnett County jury in September of 2017 for the death of Lauren Taylor, 26. Taylor’s body was found in DeShong Park in October of 2014. Goins was living in Tunnel Hill at the time of the murder, and in August of 2014 he told a friend "he wanted to end the affair but could not because Taylor was threatening to expose it to his wife and children," according to the decision by the court. Cellphone records placed Goins traveling toward Gwinnett County on the night of Taylor’s death, instead of going to Chattanooga as he claimed.

In a unanimous decision — Justice Charlie Bethel, who is from Dalton, disqualified himself from the case — the Supreme Court upheld the conviction and Goins’ sentence to life in prison but vacated in part the trial court’s order denying Goins' motion for a new trial based on the argument that his constitutional right to a speedy trial was violated.

A summary of the case provided by the Supreme Court noted that the trial court "failed to make the findings and conclusions regarding Goins’ speedy trial claim required for appellate review. The high court has therefore vacated in part the trial court’s order denying Goins’ motion for (a) new trial and is remanding the case for the court to properly address his speedy trial claim."

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