On Monday, June 27th, 2022, Johnny Edwards, IV entered a plea of guilty but mentally ill to two counts of Malice Murder. Senior Judge Arch McGarity accepted the negotiated guilty plea and sentenced the defendant to life in prison without the possibility of parole. This sentence means he will never be released from prison. District Attorney Marie Broder handled the case along with Senior Assistant District Attorney Dan Hiatt and Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Warren Sellers. The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.
On December 7, 2019, at 2:29 pm, the Defendant called 911 and advised that he had killed his mother and wife and would be waiting for law enforcement outside the family home. The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office responded. The Defendant came out the front door of the home. He had blood on his ears, neck, arms, hands, pants and sandals. Upstairs in a bedroom to the right the defendant’s pregnant wife, Venus Quanteh, was located lying on the floor near the doorway in a pool of blood. Kathy Edwards, the defendant’s mother, was lying on the floor in a pool of blood near the bed. Venus had a fractured skull, cuts to her head, a stab wound to her cheek, a stab wound to her left shoulder and cuts to her fingers. Kathy had a fractured skull, cuts on her scalp, a cut on her nose and stab wounds to her neck. A blood covered wooden baseball bat was located between Venus and Kathy. A blood covered steak knife was located on the bathroom floor of the bathroom in that bedroom.
District Attorney Broder said at the plea hearing, “this case is truly heartbreaking and horrific. The family members in this case lost a mother, a grandchild, a wife, and so much more. This is a just sentence for such a heinous crime, as the defendant can not hurt anyone else.” District Attorney Broder added, “I would like to thank the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office. Without their thorough investigation, this plea would not have been possible.”
On March 9, 2022, a Spalding County jury convicted Malik Yarbrough of Malice Murder, Felony Murder, Aggravated Assault, and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony. The jury deliberated for 25 minutes before delivering the verdict. Senior Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Presley and Assistant District Attorney Adelle Petersen tried the case for the State. Griffin Police Department investigated the murder.
Today, June 8, 2022, after a lengthy sentencing hearing, the Honorable Scott L. Ballard sentenced the defendant to Life in Prison Without the Possibility of Parole for the murder. Both the State and the Defense introduced evidence at the hearing.
Yarbrough, an 18-year-old man from Griffin, was convicted of shooting Robert Donnel Brown in the back 3 times, killing him. The defendant claimed self-defense, but the jury rejected that defense with its verdict. Yarbrough murdered Brown on July 14, 2020 in the yard of a home on Melrose Avenue in Griffin.
At the sentencing hearing District Attorney Broder stated, “[t]his defendant has lived a significant life of crime already. If he gets out of prison, I believe he will kill someone else.”
Judge Ballard weighed both mitigating and aggravating factors and ultimately determined that the defendant was “permanently incorrigible” due to his significant criminal history and lack of remorse for the crime.