A judge sentenced a felon to two consecutive life sentences in prison without parole for the brutal stabbing death of gay East Cobb man Jerry Moore.
A jury convicted Johnathan Wheeler (photo) on Monday morning and Cobb Superior Court Judge Mary Staley Clark sentenced him later that day.
“This was a relentless, sustained, malicious attack by a cold-blooded killer,” Jesse Evans, chief assistant district attorney, told jurors in his closing statements. “The defendant pursued, out of greed and out of malice. No human being should ever have this inflicted on them.”
Moore, 46, was found stabbed to death 32 times in January 2014. Evans said Moore’s roommate set up and orchestrated the murder with Wheeler. The roommate runs a Woodstock bakery that Moore backed financially and where Wheeler once worked, according to the AJC.
Messages between Moore and the roommate revealed the business was failing and Moore wanted to kick the roommate out of his home. Prosecutors said the roommate is an "uncharged co-conspirator," but they haven’t explained why he hasn't been charged in the murder.
Randy Doolittle, Moore’s longtime friend and executor of his will, said it’s only a matter of time before charges are brought against the roommate.
“A follow-up to another trial is going to be happening pretty swift,” Doolittle told Project Q Atlanta.
Doolittle met Moore at the now-closed Hoedowns shortly after moving to Atlanta in 1998. Doolittle became concerned when Moore didn’t call him on his birthday in 2014. He found out the next day that Moore had been killed.
“I loved Jerry and I enjoyed his friendship more than anything,” Doolittle said.
He testified about Moore’s relationship with Wheeler and the roommate during the trial. He said he was “extremely delighted” about the verdict.
“So many elements were in play with this trial,” Doolittle said, including what he described as a lack of forensic evidence.
Prosecutors blame that on in part on Cynthia Hope Wheeler, a cousin of the accused who was convicted of helping him clean the crime scene. Prosecutors also said the cousins were in a sexual relationship.
“We had the absolute sharpest prosecution team known to man,” Doolittle said. “The way this case was prosecuted, if somebody’s going to do a crime, don’t do it in Cobb County.”
The jury convicted Wheeler on all counts, including malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery and first-degree burglary.
Wheeler was released from prison in 2010 after serving nearly nine years on armed robbery and aggravated assault charges from cases in Cobb and Cherokee counties, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections.