Man pleads guilty in ambush killings of 2 Georgia deputies

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ATLANTA (AP) — A man pleaded guilty to ambushing and murdering two Georgia deputies who were serving an arrest warrant earlier this year, prosecutors said Thursday.

Christopher Golden, 30, was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole, plus 55 years — the maximum allowed by law short of the death penalty, said the office of Cobb County District Attorney Flynn D. Broady Jr. in a news release.

The two Cobb County deputies — Marshall Ervin Jr., 38, and Jonathan Koleski, 42 — were shot on Sept. 8.

In court, Golden kept his head down and showed no emotion as he listened to the victims’ families talk about their loved ones, WSB-TV reported.

“Growing up, my brother was my hero,” said Megan Barrios, Koleski’s sister. “John was the oldest of five children. He protected all of us. He even joined the Army and protected this country. That’s just what he was. A protector.”

A victim’s advocate read a statement from Ervin’s wife directed toward Golden.

“I hope that if he is able to feel guilt, that it consumes him until the day he dies because he is a destroyer of lives. He deserves all the misery God will allow him until his very last breath,” the statement said.

A timeline of the slayings was described in court by Jason Saliba, the county’s deputy chief assistant district attorney.

“At least 12 rifle shots come through the front windows,” Saliba said. “The second or third shot hit Deputy Koleski in the groin and hip area. He later succumbs to that wound. The eighth shot hits Deputy Irving in the head, and he is immediately incapacitated and dies from his wound.”

Golden entered a guilty plea to two counts each of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault on a peace officer and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, Broady's office said. He also pleaded guilty to one count of hindering apprehension or punishment of a criminal.

“Although nothing will ever replace the lives of Marshall and John, this plea today will allow their families to put the case behind them and focus on healing,” the DA's statement said. The deal “will allow the families to avoid years of being exposed to additional hearings and an even longer appellate process.”

Golden declined to address the court or the victims’ families before being led away by deputies in shackles. As part of the plea, Golden waived all post-conviction relief including parole, clemency or pardon, Broady's office said.

Cobb County, with more than 760,000 people, is located just northwest of Atlanta and is one of Georgia’s most populous counties.

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