Bond Denied in Fatal Custody Swap
But a Fulton judge dismissed two felony child cruelty counts after prosecutors could not present conclusive evidence that the children of Shannon Lawrence and Christopher Erdman were present during the shooting.
Despite pleas for his release by his mother and father, a 25-year-old Cumming man charged in the June 5 shooting death of a Canton woman was denied bond today in Fulton County Superior Court.
Christopher M. Erdman will remain in the Fulton County Jail until at least Aug. 10 when Judge Karen Woodson set his next court date.
Erdman is charged with felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony in the death of his children's mother, 25-year-old Shannon Lawrence. Woodson dismissed two felony child cruelty counts after prosecutors could not present conclusive evidence that the couple’s two children had been present during the shooting.
During a lengthy hearing attended by the parents, family and friends of Erdman and Lawrence, defense attorney Stanley Constant sought to bolster Erdman’s contention that he shot Lawrence in self defense after she attacked him with a six-inch knife in the parking lot of a bank in Milton.
Police detective Sgt. CS Barstow testified that about 1:45 p.m. a witness called 911 and said when he heard four gunshots he looked out the window of a church building and saw a “white male with red hair with blood on his forearms picking up a sandal and putting it in a white truck.”
About an hour later police were notified that Erdman and his father had arrived at the emergency room of Northside Hospital-Forsyth in Cumming with Lawrence’s body, Barstow said. Lawrence had been shot four times, Barstow said.
Spent rounds from two shots fired into Lawrence’s left cheek were found embedded in the pavement of the parking lot, he said. Barstow said the evidence is consistent with those shots being fired after Lawrence was lying on the ground.
Questioned by police at the hospital Erdman’s father, Michael H. Erdman, said his son told him that Lawrence had attacked his son with a knife, but he refused to tell officers where the children, saying only “they were safe,” Barstow said. The elder Erdman would not say anything further when taken to Milton Police headquarters for questioning, Barstow said.
Testifying today Michael Erdman said his son and Lawrence had periodic “spats” during the years they lived with him.
But despite court-issued restraining orders filed in 2010 and 2011, Michael Erdman said his son loved Lawrence and his children.
“He loved those kids,” Michael Erdman said. “Next to Shannon those kids were number one in his life.”
The couple's children are Emma Catherine Marie Erdman, who turned three on June 25 and Peter, who turned one the day before his mother’s funeral.
Under cross examination by Assistant District Attorney Jack Barrs, Erdman said he believed a provision of an April court order that the children’s grandparents supervise visits and exchanges of the children was optional.
Erdman said both sets of grandparents initially attended the swaps, but stopped participating after several incidents of discord between his son and Lawrence’s mother and father.
"I just don't know if that would have happened if I had been there," Erdman said. "I just don't know."