A judge sentenced a Cumming man to life without the possibility of parole on Friday after he admitted to killing his former girlfriend in front of their children.
In a plea deal, Christopher Erdman pleaded guilty to killing Shannon Lawrence of Canton in a Wells Fargo parking lot in Milton in June 2011.
Prosecutors said they offered him this option to protect his five-year-old daughter from having to testify at the trial, which also allowed Erdman to avoid the death penalty originally proposed.
Erdman also pled guilty in 2011 for an unrelated charge of disorderly conduct after a dust-up with a Decatur security guard.
He allegedly grabbed the guard, with his daughter still on his shoulders, after repeatedly refusing to comply with orders that he move his bicycle. There were no injuries in that incident.
Sheila Ross, Fulton County prosecutor, said that Erdman shot his former girlfriend in the pelvis once, once in the chest – which penetrated her lungs – and twice in the back of the head. She was found face down in the parking lot.
Her children, a son and daughter who were 11 months and 2 years old, respectively, at the time, looked on as the crime occurred.
Erdman allegedly stalked and harassed Lawrence on several occasions before the fatal shooting. Before she was killed, Lawrence sought a restraining order against Erdman, claiming he was violent.
When the two exchanged children as part of a custody deal, it was supposed to be supervised. No supervisor was present when the murder occurred.
Lawrence’s father, Randy Lawrence, said that his granddaughter continues to have nightmares about the killing.
"She'll never forget seeing, as she said to me, mommy lying on the ground with blood coming out of her ears," he told the Atlanta Constitution-Journal.