Man sentenced to life for strangling pregnant fiancée, burying her in woods

The body of 19-year-old Te'a Choates was found in a shallow grave behind her grandmother's Lithonia home in August 2019. Her fiancé, Aldeyshaun Locklear, was convicted of murder Friday and sentenced to life in prison.

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The body of 19-year-old Te'a Choates was found in a shallow grave behind her grandmother's Lithonia home in August 2019. Her fiancé, Aldeyshaun Locklear, was convicted of murder Friday and sentenced to life in prison.

The body of 19-year-old Te’a Choates lay undetected for days in her grandmother’s Lithonia backyard, in a shallow grave covered by sticks and debris.

During that time, her mother said she was receiving texts from her daughter that made her deeply concerned for her welfare. She only later learned those texts were penned by Choates’ fiancé, Aldeyshaun Locklear, who eventually led investigators to her grave in August 2019 and admitted to strangling her.

With her death, two lives were lost. Choates was in the early months of pregnancy with the couple’s first child, her mother Ebony King told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by phone this week.

“So many of these young ladies go through these abusive situations,” King said. “In her dying, I want to make sure these other ladies focus on living life. She was pregnant and she wanted a family, and that’s why she stayed.”

A DeKalb County jury on Friday convicted Locklear, now 20, of felony murder, aggravated assault and concealing Choates’ death. He was found not guilty of malice murder.

Locklear was subsequently sentenced to life in prison.

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Aldeyshaun Locklear

Credit: DeKalb County Sheriff's Office

Aldeyshaun Locklear

Credit: DeKalb County Sheriff's Office

Combined ShapeCaption
Aldeyshaun Locklear

Credit: DeKalb County Sheriff's Office

Credit: DeKalb County Sheriff's Office

According to King, prosecutors did not bring charges related to the baby’s death, as an autopsy could not confirm the pregnancy. But Choates had photos from her first ultrasound, King said.

During the trial, the jury heard testimony describing their relationship as volatile, marked by physical abuse. Months before the 19-year-old’s death, King implored Choates to leave Locklear and join her in Florida, where she runs a group home for girls recovered from human trafficking and other abusive situations.

Choates considered leaving Locklear but ultimately decided against it, her mother said.

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When he was first questioned by police after she went missing, Locklear denied knowing anything about her disappearance, prosecutors said.

“He later changed his story and said that the two got into an argument and the victim pulled a knife on him,” a spokesperson for DeKalb District Attorney Sherry Boston said in a news release. “He said he then shoved her, causing her to hit her head on the bathtub. Locklear claimed he tried to ‘wake her up’ and attempted CPR when the victim stopped breathing.”

King said Locklear never called for help. Instead, she said, he dragged Choates’ body into a wooded area and continued life as normal as her family frantically searched for her. He has never apologized to the family or shown any remorse, King said.

Ultimately, an anonymous tip led police to suspect Locklear’s involvement and he was arrested Aug. 13, three days after Choates’ grandmother reported her missing and seven days after she was killed.

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“It’s not for me to carry anger and hurt and hate towards him,” King said. “I don’t want to do that, but I do feel like justice was served. I was able to say some words to him, and I’m praying he heard them and will make some changes.”

King said she has found healing and renewed passion in helping other young women escape violence. In honor of Choates’ passions, a foundation established in her name provides cheerleading scholarships. Another initiative, “Girl Live,” aims to empower women to look beyond their current circumstances, rather than become resigned to them.

“When you have choices, activate those choices,” King said. “There’s no rule that says, ‘I’m 19. I’m in a serious relationship, and I have to stay here.’ Choose yourself and choose life.”


Resources for domestic violence victims in DeKalb County