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Oakwood man sentenced to life in fatal stabbing of his girlfriend in 2021
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Emmanuel Harris enters Hal County Superior Court Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022, for day two of his murder trial. Harris was sentenced to life in prison on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. - photo by Scott Rogers

An Oakwood man was sentenced Friday to life in prison with the possibility of parole in the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend. 

Emmanuel Harris, 32, was convicted Nov. 18 of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a knife during the commission of a felony in the Sept. 14, 2021 stabbing death of his girlfriend, Jordan Gooch, 27.

Superior Court Judge Clint Bearden said he agreed with the prosecution’s argument, that even in prison Harris will be able to see his family, while Gooch’s family will never be able to see her again. 

“And that’s certainly not lost upon the court,” Bearden said. 

Still, he granted Harris the possibility of parole, available after 30 years served, in the hope that Harris can be rehabilitated. 

“The sentence that I will impose … is ultimately going to be one where it will be — and this is difficult for Ms. Gooch’s family, I understand — it will be left to the Board of Pardons and Paroles at some point in time, whether that's 30, 40, 50 years in the future to make a determination, Mr. Harris, as to what you have done with your life, what redeeming qualities you may have,” Bearden said. “Right now I find that you have not many, or very few, but I can't say with certainty that in 30 to 45 years that someone … may feel differently.” 

Gooch’s mother, Deneen Boyd, shared a victim impact statement before sentencing was handed down. 

“I’m angry that I can't pick up the phone and call her or text her or ask her to go out or to go for a ride with me,” Boyd said. “I won't have any more Mother's Days with her, Thanksgivings, birthdays, Christmases, and I won't be able to buy Valentine's Day gifts, which Valentine's Day was our favorite holiday. My whole life is different. Not a day goes by that I don't miss her or remember that she is gone.” 

Gooch’s mother described her daughter: “A wonderful baby who slept her first night, a terrible toddler who had to have things done her own way, a curious child who shared no fear of the unknown, a rebellious and sometimes selfish teenager who tried to do whatever she wanted, and an independent, bright, compassionate young adult who made me very proud to be her mother. Jordan was not perfect by any means, but she was perfect for me. A piece of my soul has been taken away from me. She always said I was her best friend, but we were actually at the point in our relationship where she had become mine.”

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Jordan Gooch is pictured with her father, Ondre Gooch. (Photo provided to The Times)