MAN SENTENCED TO 35 YEARS IN PRISON AFTER SHOOTING GIRLFRIEND IN HEAD EXECUTION-STYLE

Atlanta, GA – Fulton County District Attorney, Paul Howard, Jr. today announces a conviction by guilty plea in connection with the murder of Stephanie Riddle. On October 31, 2017, JERRELL BERGER pled guilty to the July 7, 2016 murder of Stephanie Riddle.

Stephanie Riddle did everything she could to stay alive. On July 2, 2016, Ms. Riddle announced to her boyfriend JERRELL BERGER her desire to end their relationship due to BERGER’S repeated physical abuse of the mother of five children. BERGER responded to Ms. Riddle’s request by pulling several braids of hair from the scalp of Ms. Riddle’s head. He also struck her several times in the face with a metal vacuum cleaner causing a large laceration on her forehead that required several stitches to close.

Ms. Riddle called police after the violent attack. Police arrested BERGER but only charged him with a family violence misdemeanor. Two days later on July 4, 2016, despite BERGER’S four prior convictions, including an aggravated battery conviction against another woman, he was granted a $2,000.00 bond by a Fulton County Magistrate. Two days later on July 6, 2016, JERRELL BERGER paid the $200.00 bond fee and was released from the Fulton County Jail.  The bond required BERGER to stay away from Ms. Riddle, but upon release he headed straight for her home.  BERGER confronted Ms. Riddle, hurling false accusations about other men. Ms. Riddle’s neighbors, alarmed by what they overheard called 911.  When police arrived, BERGER reportedly walked away from the home and was not apprehended.  Ms.  Riddle stated to police at the time, “If you don’t arrest him, he is going to kill me.”

On the very next day July 7, 2016, BERGER made his way to Ms. Riddle’s place of employment at the Hilton Hotel on Virginia Avenue in Hapeville, GA. He chased her into a room she was cleaning and shot her six times.  The last shot was fired at close range into her head execution-style.

On October 31, 2017, JERRELL BERGER entered a guilty plea for the following charges:

  • One count of Murder
  • Two counts of Felony Murder
  • Two counts of Aggravated Assault
  • One count of Aggravated Battery
  • One count of Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Felony
  • One count of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon

The judge sentenced JERRELL BERGER to 35 years to serve in prison.

“Ms. Riddle did everything right. She did everything she could to stay alive, but now she is the person dead. These cases continue to happen in our county and will continue to happen until our system carefully evaluates such incidents and substantially changes what we are doing. This is an unspeakable tragedy that should not have ended in this fashion. Ms. Riddle should be alive,” said Fulton County District Attorney, Paul Howard, Jr.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney presided over the case. It was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney, Ryan M. Piechocinski with assistance from Chief Senior Assistant District Attorney, Seleta Griffin and Investigator, Tiffany Griffin of the Fulton County District Attorney’s Investigations Unit. Detective Stephen Cushing of the Hapeville Police Department led the initial investigation.