Man convicted of strangling mistress, burning body in Gwinnett park

Charmane Demetrius Goins has been convicted of malice murder, felony murder and aggravated assault in the 2014 death of Lauren Taylor.

Taylor, 26, was found strangled to death and burned postmortem in Deshong Park in October 2014. She had been having an affair with Goins, who was married at the time.

Goins killed Taylor after she threatened to tell his wife about their relationship, Gwinnett County Assistant District Attorney Daryl Manns said in court. Text message records presented in court showed that Taylor did make that threat.

Goins had rebuilt his life after serving 15 years in prison for armed robbery. He worked for a company that helped other ex-convicts get jobs and housing after being released from prison, held leadership positions in church, got married and had a child.

“Why did he do it?” Manns asked in his closing argument. “Because we’re talking about a man who had a lot to lose.”

Goins' cell phone data also showed him driving from his home in Tunnel Hill, in northwest Georgia, towards Gwinnett County. Karl Wyatt, a friend that had been living in Goins' home, testified that Goins asked him to provide an alibi. Kentari Leonard, who was Goins' cellmate in jail, testified that Goins told him the details of the murder.

Wanda Jackson, Goins’ defense attorney, cast doubt on Leonard and Wyatt in her closing argument, pointing out Wyatt had been a gang member and served a 17-year prison sentence for voluntary manslaughter, and calling Leonard, currently awaiting trial on theft and burglary charges, “a convict, a jailbird and a liar.”

After the jury returned the verdict, Jackson said she respected the decision and hoped to argue for a sentence of life with the possibility of parole for Goins. Sentencing was postponed for at least a week in order to bring in character witnesses for Goins. A date has not been selected yet.

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