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August 2019
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Byers guilty of axe murder


Sheriff Book-in Photo

Though his story changed several times, and included a self-defense scenario, in his final statement in court Christopher Byers said he didn’t kill anyone.

       After just over an hour of deliberation, a jury found Christopher Byers, 34, guilty on all 14 counts of his indictment including malice and felony murder. Byers was sentenced to life in prison in Pickens County Superior Court on Monday, Aug. 6. 

The Gilmer County man was accused of murdering his friend Ray Walnoha, also of Gilmer, in 2014 at a Cove Road residence in Pickens.  

The verdict came after five full days of trial, which included testimony from Byers’s friend Arnold Griffith who said he was present when Byers killed Walnoha at Griffith’s Cove Road property. According to Griffith, 59, he helped Byers hide the body in a shallow grave in the woods near his house. In exchange for his testimony, murder charges were dropped against Griffith who served one year for concealing a death, tampering with evidence, and abandonment of a body. He has since been released from jail. 

     See full story including details of the trial in this week's print or online editions.