The defendant repeatedly abused his ex-girlfriend prior to the murder
Atlanta–Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard, Jr., announces the MURDER conviction, by a Fulton County Superior Court Jury, of 58-year-old DONALD WOODS.
Donald Woods and Yvonne Wesley met in high school in Chicago but did not become romantically involved until many years later after her late husband passed away. Throughout their relationship, Woods was possessive and controlling, and he physically abused Wesley on a number of occasions. As a result, Wesley was alienated from her family. Wesley and Woods moved to Atlanta in April 2016, and in June 2017, Woods decided to end the abusive relationship. The victim drove to Fayetteville, North Carolina to inform her sister of her decision, and following that trip, Wesley returned to Georgia to follow through with her intentions to end the relationship.
On June 28, 2017, Wesley informed Woods of her plan to end their relationship during a conversation at their shared residence along Sells Avenue in Atlanta. Following the discussion, Wesley quickly left the property with only her keys, purse, and laptop in hand. The next day, June 29, 2017, Wesley’s uncles, 70-year-old Edmund Orr and 73-year-old Otha Orr agreed to escort their niece to her shared residence to retrieve her belongings. When they arrived, Wesley knocked on the door and was met by Woods. She let Woods know she was there to retrieve her belongings, but as Otha Orr attempted to enter the apartment, Woods pushed him away and stepped back inside to retrieve a handgun. As Wesley and her uncles stepped away from the door, Woods re-emerged with the firearm and struck Edmund Orr numerous times in the head using the blunt end of the gun. Otha intervened in an attempt to help his brother when Woods said,
“You are not going to take her away from me; I’m going to get you!”
Woods and Otha continued to physically fight, and Otha managed to pin Woods to the ground. Woods eventually escaped Otha’s grasp and removed the safety on the gun. Otha attempted to dislodge the 9mm Luger firearm from Woods’ hands, but the defendant shot him four times. Woods then turned his attention to Edmund and gave chase. During the chase, Woods fired two shots in Edmund’s direction before fleeing the scene in a Ford Explorer. Edmund sustained injuries to his head and face as a result of Woods striking him with the firearm. Otha died at the scene from two gunshot wounds to his head and body.
Following the murder, Woods’ picture was disseminated through the media. Hours after the homicide, Woods turned himself in to Atlanta Police. The entire altercation, except for the shooting, was captured by surveillance cameras at the apartment complex. Cell phone records before and after the shooting revealed attempts by Woods to convince Wesley to remain in the relationship. Minutes after Woods murdered Otha he sent a text message to Wesley that read,
“I love you very much. Repent truly to God for His forgiveness. Please!”
WOODS was convicted of MURDER, FELONY MURDER, AGGRAVATED ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY WEAPON, BATTERY, and POSSESSION OF A FIREARM DURING THE COMMISSION OF A FELONY. Woods was sentenced to LIFE IN PRISON PLUS 21 YEARS TO SERVE.
Judge Shawn Ellen LaGrua, of the Superior Court of Fulton County, presided over the case. Executive District Attorney Linda Dunikoski led the prosecution of the case. She was assisted by Assistant District Attorney Julianna Sleeper, Investigator Michael Green, Investigator Fred Glenn, Jr., and Victim-Witness-Advocate Ericka McClam of the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office. Detective A. Philemon of the Atlanta Police Department was the Lead Investigator in the case.