Man gets 10 years in 2000 death of West Georgia student from DeKalb

More than 14 years after the death of a college student from DeKalb County, her killer was sentenced to prison Friday.

Samuel Lewis Edwards pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and received the maximum sentence of 10 years in prison in the 2000 death of 22-year-old Toyal Edwana Jackson, the Coweta Judicial Circuit District Attorney said.

“The strengths of the case, as well as the weaknesses, including the complete lack of DNA, fingerprints, or other forensic evidence, were explained to the family in detail and they agreed that today’s plea, as negotiated, was an acceptable resolution to this case,” the DA and Carrollton police said in a joint statement.

On Oct. 29, 2000, Jackson told her State University of West Georgia roommates she was heading to Walmart and left her apartment. It was the last time her friends saw her alive.

“She just kind of fell off the face of the earth,” a Carrollton deputy police chief told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution days after the college senior’s disappearance.

On Nov. 30, 2000, Jackson’s body was found at a city wastewater treatment facility. The case remained cold until last May, when a grand jury indicted Edwards on six counts of murder. Edwards was accused of strangling Jackson and then stabbing her, according to the indictment.

Jackson was a college senior at the time of her death. She had changed her major from physical education to early childhood education and was working as an assistant coach to the eighth grade girls’ basketball team at Carrollton Junior High School, a roommate previously said. Jackson was a standout on the girls’ basketball team at Henderson High School.

After Edwards’ guilty plea, the DA and Carrollton police credited one detective’s work in the case, James Perry, now chief of police for West Georgia Technical College.

“Without a doubt, this case would remain unsolved without Chief Perry’s determination to find her killer and bring him to justice,” the DA and police said in an emailed statement. “From the day Miss Jackson died until today’s guilty plea, not a single day passed that Chief Perry did not put some work into solving the case. Chief Perry never forgot.”