Harris County Double Murder Case Closed

By Lindsey Connell - bio | e-mail

HARRIS COUNTY, GA (WTVM) -  Twenty-two-year-old Joshua Pounds would have been the state's key witness in the double murder of Jerry and Sherlene Church.

However, the case will not go to trial.

Pounds and four other men accepted deals with the state and all plead guilty to charges stemming from the couple's murder.

Last week, Kevin McKay, Dereck Cox, Richard Strickland and Gage Bryant all plead guilty to charges connected to their murder.

Today, it was Joshua Pound's turn.

Officials with the District Attorney's Office say Pounds went back to the Church's home with two of the others after the murders, taking $36,000 in cash and stepping over their bodies in the process.

Today, he plead guilty to a burglary charge in connection with the crime and was sentenced to 10 years in jail.

"Although he participated in burglarizing a home of someone who was deceased, he had nothing to do with the actual murder. Ten years with four to serve on a residential burglary is within range and within reasons. His age, a lack of a prior record and he was willing to testify and cooperate with the state- are all factors that were considered," said Assistant District Attorney Alonza Whitaker.

But although the proceedings are over, family members of the victims say it does not bring them any closure.

"They got away with a horrific murder- something that Harris County has not seen. I will never hear Jerry's voice again. I'll never hear that deep rumbling laughter. We won't ever have another conversation. We won't ever laugh together. Our family has a hole in it that is never going to be filled-never, never, never," said Brenda Hall, Jerry Church's niece.

Pounds was denied first offender status today.

He will serve four years in a state penitentiary and the remaining six years of his sentence on probation.

Twenty-one-year Kevin McKay and nineteen-year-old Dereck Cox plead guilty to malice murder and robbery by force, receiving life sentences plus twenty years in prison.

Seventeen-year-old Richard Strickland and thirteen-year-old Gage Bryant have been sentenced to twenty years in prison. They must also serve twenty and fifteen years on probation on charges of robbery by force.

Officials say as it stands now, the general rule for anyone serving a life sentence is that they spend twenty six years in jail before becoming eligible for parole.

And for the juveniles serving twenty years in prison, they will need to serve ninety percent of their sentence before they are eligible for parole.

That, of course, is subject to change based on the decisions of the Board of Pardons and Paroles.