On Monday, August 6, 2018, after just over an hour of deliberation, a Georgia man was found guilty on all counts including malice murder and felony murder.
Christopher Byers, 34, was sentenced to life in prison by an Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver.
Byers and his co-defendant, Arnold Griffith, 59, were originally indicted on December 7, 2016 by a Pickens County Grand Jury. The charges in the indictment included Malice Murder, Felony Murder, Aggravated Assault, Aggravated Assault with Intent to Murder, Abandonment of a Dead Body and Tampering with Evidence. The charges stemmed from the 2014 death of Raymond Walnoha. Walnoha was last known to live in Adamsville, TN and was 46 years of age at the time of his death.
In a case that began in May of 2016, the GBI and the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office found that Walnoha was not only missing but murdered. Walnoha was last known to be at a residence off Cove Rd. in Jasper, Georgia with Griffith and Byers. Investigators were able to determine that the murder actually happened during the summer of 2014 and that Walnoha was killed by blows to the head with an axe.
Byers and Griffith disposed of the body in a shallow grave, destroyed evidence and tried to hide any evidence that Walnoha had ever been at the residence. Despite many attempts to locate Walnoha’s body, blood evidence was found which was consistent with witness and suspect interviews. Byers ultimately admitted to striking Walnoha in the head with an axe while Walnoha was sleeping on a couch at the residence. Griffith admitted to helping Byers move and bury Walnoha’s body.
During the investigation, Byers was arrested and taken into custody for an unrelated Probation Violation. While in custody, Byers was arrested for Walnoha’s murder. Griffith was later arrested on murder charges and taken into custody at his Cove Rd. residence.
On October 18, 2017, Griffith pled guilty to abandonment of a dead body, concealing a death and tampering with evidence and was sentenced to twenty-three years with one year to be served in confinement. Griffith agreed to testify at Byer’s trial.