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Cobb jury sentences man for shooting father of 3 in back of the head

It took jurors 31 minutes to find Joseph Priester guilty of murdering a father of three at a Smyrna gas station, prosecutors said.

Priester, 37, got a sentence of life in prison without a chance at parole on Friday for killing Genaro Rojas-Martinez in May 2017, according to a Cobb County District Attorney’s office new release.

Priester, of Thomaston, followed the 39-year-old man from the restaurant where he worked to a Texaco on South Cobb Drive late May 15, 2017, according to the release.

Prosecutors said the men did not know each other and no motive was mentioned in the release.


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About 11 p.m., Rojas-Martinez parked at the pumps and went inside the gas station to pay. While inside, Priester pulled up on the other side of the same pump in a green Chevrolet Avalanche.

Photo of Genaro Rojas-Martinez (Cobb County District Attorney's Office)

When Rojas-Martinez came out, Priester shot him once in the back of the head and sped off. Police put out the word about the pick-up truck.

As it turns out, Priester had been borrowing the truck, and the owner called police to report that he’d seen his vehicle on the news connected to a murder, according to a warrant.

Priester was arrested in New Jersey several days later.


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“This was a cold-blooded execution committed after Priester waited for the victim for hours at his place of business prior to following him to the gas station,” said prosecutor Jennifer Stevenson.

Priester, previously convicted of aggravated assault in Upson County, in this case was sentenced for malice and felony murder in addition to aggravated assault and other charges.


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