By: Coweta Judicial Circuit District Attorney John Herbert Cranford, Jr. for Newstalk 1330 WLBB/ FM 106.3
On December 11, 2018, Jonathan Wade Willis pleaded guilty to Attempted Murder, Aggravated Assault, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, and Stalking. After a sentencing hearing lasting over two hours, Judge John Simpson sentenced Mr. Willis to a total of fifty (50) years in prison.
Just after 1:00 a.m. on March 26, 2017, Chris Carnes answered a knock at his door. Outside was Mr. Willis, who demanded to see his wife, Terri. Mrs. Willis had recently separated from her husband and was temporarily staying with the Carnes, who were friends from the church they all attended.
When Mr. Carnes refused entry to Mr. Willis, Mr. Carnes noticed two ammunition magazines on the defendants belt. He asked Mr. Willis if he was armed and directed his own wife, Patti Carnes, to call 911. At that point, Mr. Willis produced a 9 millimeter handgun and began shooting. Mr. Carnes was shot in five places in his body and Mrs. Carnes was shot one time through the hand. A bullet flew by the head of their daughter, Katie Carnes, as she helped push the defendant away from the door to the house. Mr. Willis fled the scene and was later arrested by the Carroll County Sheriffs Office.
Mr. and Mrs. Carnes survived the attack, but suffered horribly from their gunshot wounds. Mr. Carnes spent seventeen days in Grady Hospital and had open wounds in his body that did not heal for seven months. Mrs. Carnes was treated for her wound, but still does not have the full use of her hand. Their daughter continues to suffer from the emotional trauma caused by the assault that nearly took her life and the lives of her parents. All three of the Carnes will require years of follow-up care.
As noted during the sentencing hearing, if the defendants aim had been mere millimeters in one direction or another, this case would have been a multiple homicide that wiped out an entire family. This case serves as yet another example of the suffering caused by domestic violence throughout our community. I hope the Carnes family can find some comfort and peace following the Defendants guilty plea and the just sentence handed down by Judge Simpson.
Finally, I wish to commend Investigator Marc Griffith and other officers of the Carroll County Sheriffs Office for putting in the long hours required to bring this defendant to justice, as well as Senior ADA Jeff Hunt whose preparation and work on the case led to this plea and sentence. Because of their efforts, this defendant will spend many years in prison where he will not be a danger to our community.