Update: An Oakwood man who said he stabbed his girlfriend three times in self-defense was found guilty of murder Friday, Nov. 18.
Emmanuel Harris, 32, was convicted Friday 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.
The jury deliberated for roughly three hours before returning the all-guilty verdict.
The defense asked for more time to prepare for sentencing, and Superior Court Judge Clint Bearden set the hearing for Dec. 9.
Because the case is still considered open, defense attorney Chris van Rossem declined to comment after the verdict’s reading.
The jury was allowed to consider a lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter instead of malice murder and felony murder.
While malice murder carries a life prison sentence, voluntary manslaughter’s maximum prison sentence is 20 years.
Handcuffed, Harris turned back to look at his family in the rows behind him before exiting the courtroom.
In his final argument to the jury, van Rossem called on the incident months before the stabbing where Gooch punched Harris at the airport, breaking the trust in the relationship.
The defense painted the case as a tumultuous and mutually-toxic relationship between two flawed individuals.
“This idea from the state that Emmanuel was going to be driven to such rage because Jordan had communicated she wanted space in the relationship doesn’t make any sense,” van Rossem said.
Harris said on the stand Thursday, Nov. 17, that he saw his girlfriend holding a knife and a glare in her eyes he had never seen before. He told the jury that he caught her hand and drove the knife into her shoulder.
Van Rossem said Harris was “fully justified” in defending himself in his own apartment.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Kelley Robertson said Gooch spent the last 24 hours of her life scared of Harris, doing nothing to deserve her death.
“And in the last moments of her life, she experienced everyone’s worst nightmare,” Robertson said.
Though the prosecution did not have to prove a motive, Robertson said Harris’ motive was to control his romantic partners with violence. The prosecutor referenced Harris’ prior plea to aggravated battery involving a different woman.
Robertson returned to Harris’ incessant calls and text messages seen both with Gooch and his prior case.
“It took something very small to set him off,” Robertson said. “It wasn’t her eyes. It was his eyes that went dark and cold.”
After hearing the verdict, Gooch’s father, Ondre Gooch, said he felt a weight lifted off of him.
“It’s been a long 15 months,” Ondre Gooch said. “Justice was served.”
Ondre Gooch lauded the work by the district attorney’s office and Robertson.
Previous story: A man who claimed he fatally stabbed his girlfriend in self-defense in their apartment in 2021 has been found guilty of murder.
Jurors deliberated for about three hours in the murder trial of Emmanuel Harris, 32, of Oakwood. Harris was found guilty of malice murder in the death of Jordan Gooch, 27. In addition, he was found guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a knife in the commission of a crime.
Sentencing for Harris has been scheduled for Dec. 9.