October 23, 2018

Edwards Pleads Guilty in Death of UWG Student

Samuel Lewis Edwards

Samuel Lewis Edwards

(Carrollton, GA) — A Franklin man accused of abducting and killing a University of West Georgia student in October of 2000 pleaded guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter in Carroll County Superior Court Friday.

36-year-old Samuel Lewis Edwards entered his guilty plea just days before he was scheduled to go to trial on several counts including murder.

Edwards was charged in the cold case death of Toyal Edwana Jackson, a 22-year-old UWG student from Dekalb County who was last seen alive Oct. 29, 2000 at the Wal-Mart in Carrollton.

Once an official search for Jackson was launched, a witness came forward who told investigators that he saw a “short, stocky man” putting a black female into a red Nissan pickup truck in the Walmart parking lot on the night in question.

One month later, on Nov. 30, 2000, Jackson’s body was found by a city sanitation worker in a Carrollton sprayfield.

Edwards submitted an Alford plea — commonly referred to it as an “I’m pleading guilty but I didn’t do it” plea — in which he denied any responsibility for the 22-year-old University of West Georgia student’s killing, but wished to take advantage of the prosecution’s negotiated plea offer.

Senior Judge James G. Bodiford of Cobb County Superior Court sentenced Edwards to 10 years in state prison, the maximum allowed for the charge and Edwards will receive credit for time served since his arrest in April of 2014.

According to a report by Colton Campbell of the Times-Georgian, the state had very little physical evidence in the cold case and the majority of the prosecution’s case rested on Edwards own admissions to people over the last decade incriminating himself.

District Attorney Pete Skandalakis — who was present for the hearing, along with Senior Assistant District Attorneys Jeff Hunt and Anne Allen — said Jackson’s family members, who’ve shown a constant presence at hearings leading up to Edwards’ plea, are comfortable with the sentence.

“We’ve spoken with the family, and they’re satisfied with the plea,” Skandalakis said. “We told the family what evidence was available and what evidence was not available. They understand that and would like to bring this case to resolution.”

Edward’s own attorney Gary Bunch of Carrollton said the statements Edwards allegedly made to other individuals — namely, police believe, that he killed Jackson — over numerous years since 2000 “could only be described as stupid.”

For more details on this story visit www.times-georgian.com.

 

 

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