Early on the morning of Oct. 8, 2014, Charmane Goins asked his friend Karl Wyatt to provide an alibi for him, Wyatt said in court Friday.
Goins is on trial for the murder of Lauren Taylor, whose body was found strangled and burned in Deshong Park in Stone Mountain later the same day. Prosecutors contend Goins strangled Taylor, drove her body to the park and set it on fire using gasoline. Goins and Taylor were having an extramarital affair and Taylor had threatened to tell Goins’ wife.
Wyatt, who had recently been released from prison at the time, worried that if he didn’t lie for Goins, he would lose his job and his home; Goins had helped Wyatt get a job and let him stay in his basement in Tunnel Hill, Georgia.
“He said ‘If the police ask you where I was, say we were at IHOP together,’ ” Wyatt testified. “I got scared. Honestly, I didn’t know what to think. I would have lost my job and I really would not have a place to stay.”
So Wyatt told police twice that Goins had met him at work around 11 p.m. because his car wouldn’t start, and that the two had gotten food at IHOP in nearby Chattanooga afterward. Cell phone data presented earlier during the trial showed that Wyatt was moving quickly down Interstate 75 when he was purportedly calling Goins about his car not working, and that Goins traveled toward Gwinnett County on the night of Taylor’s death instead of into Chattanooga.
Wyatt later changed his story to police, afraid that lying would violate his parole and land him back in prison, he said Friday. He did not go to IHOP with Goins or need help with his car that night, he testified.
Goins, who testified later Friday, said that the story Wyatt initially told wasn’t true, but that he didn’t ask for an alibi and they were together that night. He said the pair went to the Atlanta area that night so Wyatt could pick money up from a friend, and that they went to an IHOP in Dalton, not Chattanooga.
The prosecution rested its case against Goins Friday afternoon, while the defense called Goins and a character witness to the stand. It is unclear whether the defense will call any additional witnesses when trial resumes Tuesday.