Man gets life in prison in 2017 killing of ex-girlfriend in Cherokee County

Credit: Cherokee County Sheriff's Office / Cherokee County District Attorney's Office

Credit: Cherokee County Sheriff's Office / Cherokee County District Attorney's Office

Shannon Marie Goetz had plans to move out of her Woodstock home and back to Florida after ending a relationship with her boyfriend.

But instead, she stood in terror watching as 53-year-old James Damon Clements assaulted her two roommates in what authorities called a “jealous rage.” Not long after, the ex-boyfriend turned his rage toward her.

After more than four years, Clements was convicted in early February and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Tuesday in Goetz’s killing, Cherokee County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Cyndi Crossland said Friday. He also received concurrent sentences of 20 years for aggravated assault committed against one roommate and one year for simple assault against the other roommate.

“This sentencing will not bring Shannon back or bring back our ability to hear her voice again, but it will give us back some hope that the cruel and horrible things that were done to her by this man will not ever be able to be done to any other wonderful woman again,” an impact statement read by the state during the sentencing stated.

An investigation into the incident began after Cherokee County deputies responded to a person-down call in the Eagle Watch neighborhood about 7 p.m. on Dec. 22, 2017. When authorities entered a basement bedroom, they found Goetz, 48, on the floor with visible injuries, Crossland said.

It was eventually revealed that Clements made the 911 call and claimed to be the homeowner, Crossland said. After the call, he fled the scene and rented a hotel room in Cobb County using another name, she added.

During the investigation, detectives found that Clements pulled out a knife and assaulted two of Goetz’s roommates based on accusations they had a romantic interest in her, according to the DA’s Office. Goetz stood in a doorway nearby in fear during the attack.

Clements eventually returned to the basement with Goetz. That was the last time she was seen alive, prosecutors said.

An autopsy determined that Goetz had more than 34 injuries to her head, torso and extremities, with the ultimate cause of death being brain injury, Crossland said. Testimony presented at the trial showed that Goetz likely received a blow to the head that caused her to fall onto the concrete basement floor, according to the DA.

During the weeklong trial that ended Feb. 11, the prosecution called 27 witnesses and introduced more than 150 exhibits. The jury deliberated for less than two hours before reaching a verdict, resulting in convictions for felony murder, family violence aggravated battery, aggravated assault, simple assault, and battery, Crossland said.

“The evidence in this case proved beyond a reasonable doubt that this defendant was solely responsible for the death of Shannon Goetz, and that it was his brutal beating that took her life,” Chief Assistant District Attorney Susan Treadaway, who prosecuted the case with Deputy Chief Assistant DA Rachel Ashe of the Domestic Violence Unit, said.

“Text communications between the defendant and Shannon Goetz, along with eyewitness accounts, proved that this was not the first time the defendant was violent with her, and that she had been the victim of his cruel accusations, control and manipulation for the duration of their relationship. Everyone in that house was afraid of this man, and Shannon Goetz died as a result of his rage.”