District Attorney's Office seeking death penalty in case against - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

District Attorney's Office seeking death penalty in case against Catherine Goins

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CATOOSA COUNTY, GA (WRCB) - Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Herbert "Buz" Franklin filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty against Catherine Goins Thursday.

The 37-year-old is behind bars charged in the September shooting death of Natalia Roberts.   Deputies say Goins who had been living a ruse that she was pregnant lured the new mom to a home, with the promise of free baby clothes..

Officials say Goins then shot Roberts in the back of the head and kidnapped her 2 children from the crime scene all because she wanted to claim Robert's 3-week-old baby as her own.

Local attorneys tell Channel 3, having the death penalty on the table could be used as leverage for the District Attorney's Office. The notice could initiate plea deal negotiations or it could do the exact opposite meaning several months maybe years of appeals and thousands, possibly millions of dollars spent fighting a conviction.

"It was an unneeded murder and I say murder because that's what she did ..she flat out murdered her," said Gary Sisk, Catoosa County Sheriff.

If convicted, Goins would be the first woman out of Catoosa County and the second woman ever to be on Georgia's death row. Local attorneys say death penalty cases against women in Georgia are rare.

"It's extremely rare," said Ringgold attorney Adam Cathey. "I know that I've been here practicing law for 10-years now and I have not seen one in Catoosa County or heard of one in our entire Judicial Circuit for that matter,"

Cathey who worked in the District Attorney's office for 3 years, explains the death penalty can only be sentenced by a jury after a conviction.

"Only if the jury finds beyond a reasonable doubt that the kidnapping occurred during the commission of the murder can the death penalty be handed down," said Adam Cathey.

In addition he says prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Goins committed felony murder and kidnapping with malice intent.

"I wish that house would just disappear," said neighbor Jodie Dunaway.

Dunaway knew Goins well, she tells Channel 3. the house where Roberts was killed has had many visitors since it was put up for sale.

"A lot of visitors over there and a lot of people going up and down the roads, it's not been quiet since," said Dunaway.

One neighbor has already moved out of the subdivision, Dunaway says she and others are ready to move and ready for closure.

"I trusted her but if they find her guilty and the death penalty is on the table and then that's what she gets, she deserves it. Anybody that takes a life deserves the death penalty," said Dunaway.

According to Georgia law, if a person is found incompetent to stand trial, unable to determine right from wrong at the time the crime was committed, or unable to understand why they are being punished by death... that person can not be sentenced to death even if they have been convicted. 

Catherine Goins is scheduled in Catoosa County Court January 28th for a first proceedings unified appeal. There prosecutors will discuss their intent to seek the death penalty with the defendant and the judge.

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