Man who killed 2 Georgia deputies pleads guilty, gets life in prison
Prosecutors had planned to seek the death penalty, but agreed to a deal in which the gunman would serve life in prison without the possibility of parole
By Shaddi Abusaid
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ATLANTA — The man who shot two Cobb County sheriff’s deputies pleaded guilty to murder and other charges Thursday morning, exactly three months after killing the law enforcement officers.
Christopher Patrick Golden, 30, entered a negotiated guilty plea to the murders of deputies Jonathan Randall Koleski and Marshall Samual Ervin Jr., who were trying to serve an arrest warrant in a west Cobb neighborhood Sept. 8.
The hearing was initially set to be an arraignment, but Golden agreed to a plea deal, Cobb Superior Court Judge Julie Adams Jacobs told a courtroom full of deputies and grieving relatives of the slain lawmen.
Prosecutors had planned to seek the death penalty, but agreed to a deal in which Golden would serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Golden wasn’t the man wanted that evening, but he lived at the home with Christopher Cook, who is his uncle and the person deputies were searching for on theft charges.
After Cook arrived home to the 2400 block of Hampton Glen Court with the deputies in pursuit, Golden appeared in the doorway with his Colt AR-15 style rifle aimed at Koleski and Ervin, Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Jason Saliba said.
Both men pulled their service weapons when Golden pointed the rifle at them and instructed him repeatedly to drop the gun, he said, adding that the deputies managed to fire their pistols before being shot.
At least 12 rifle rounds tore through the front windows of the home, Saliba said. The second or third shot struck Koleski in a major artery, causing him to bleed to death. The eighth round hit Ervin in the head.
The incident was captured on the deputies’ dash and body cameras. After the shooting, Golden apparently called 911 twice, calmly telling the dispatcher, “I’m involved with the police right now. I’ve engaged them with my rifle.”
He did not mention the men dying just outside the home, Saliba noted.
“He never asks for medical aid. He never tells them anyone’s been hurt,” the prosecutor said.
Prosecutors said Golden had several high-powered guns, a variety of tactical gear and an 82nd Airborne Division tattoo on his arm, though there’s no record of him ever serving in the armed forces.
Koleski, 42, and Ervin, 38, were partners on the evening shift. Both were remembered as dedicated public servants as law enforcement officers from around the metro area were among the hundreds who attended their funerals.
Both were married and had been employed with the sheriff’s office for many years. Koleski had been with the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office since his law enforcement career began in 2007. Ervin, a father of two girls, had been with the sheriff’s office since 2012.
Cobb District Attorney Flynn Broady said both families agreed to the plea deal, which would save them years of hearings and appeals typically associated with death penalty cases.
“Although nothing will ever replace the lives of Marshall and Jon, this plea deal today will allow their families to put the case behind them and focus on healing,” he told reporters after sentencing.
In their victim impact statements, the relatives of both deputies told the court that Golden’s actions devastated their families.
Megan Barrios, Koleski’s sister, said she can’t get over the image of her mother holding the folded American flag at her son’s funeral service.
As the oldest of five children, Koleski always protected his younger siblings, said Melissa Marchetti, another sister.
“He was brilliant,” she said through tears. “He had that sharp, quick wit about him that made him one of the funniest people I have ever known.”
Ervin’s wife, Jodi, had a victim advocate read her impact statement on her behalf. She and her husband started dating at 17, she said.
“We have grown up together. Everything we’ve ever created or accomplished has been done together,” she said. “He was my home, my safe place. I don’t have that now.”
As a father, Ervin never missed a holiday, a school event or a sports game. Now the couple’s children don’t have a dad at all, she wrote.
“My children were introduced to an evil in this world that we have been trying to shelter them from since they were born,” the grieving widow wrote, noting her late husband won’t be there for their graduations or weddings.
“My children’s innocence was stolen the night they lost their daddy,” she said in her statement.
Golden, shackled at the waist and wearing a striped jumpsuit, lowered his head and looked directly at the wood table in front of him as the deputies’ relatives cried on the witness stand.
Asked if there was anything he wanted to tell the families of the men, Golden simply said, “Not at this time, your honor.”
As she gave him two consecutive life sentences plus 55 years, Jacobs told Golden there was nothing she could say that would make things better for the deputies’ grieving families or their colleagues.
“The fact is you’re gonna go to prison for the rest of your life,” the judge told him. “You’re gonna have a long time to think about your actions and what you did here and how senseless and vile it was.”
Cobb Sheriff Craig Owens called it an emotional day for his department and the families of the slain deputies, vowing their memories would not be forgotten.
“Today a man was brought to justice for the terror that he brought to our community, who robbed two women of their loving husbands and denied two beautiful daughters of having their father,” Owens said. “Tonight we will sleep a little softer knowing that this case is behind us.”
©2022 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Visit at ajc.com.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.