On Thursday, March 11, 2021, Matthew Manuel Gonzalez entered a guilty plea to the charge Murder for the 2017 fatal shooting of Matthew Lee Smith. Gonzalez was sentenced to Life in prison by Circuit Judge Shaunathan Bell.
The shooting occurred at a residence in the Salem community on December 2, 2017. Gonzalez was interviewed by Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office investigators the next day at the Paulding County, Georgia Sheriff’s Office where he was in custody for an early morning DUI. Gonzalez was found to be in possession of the victim’s vehicle and the murder weapon at the time of his DUI. Gonzalez was later extradited back to Cherokee County.
“I would like to commend the fine job done by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, the Major Crimes Unit and the JSU Center for Applied Forensics who processed the crime scene. Without the superb investigation by these entities, the chances of resolving this case before trial would have been slim,” according to O’Dell. “The Major Crimes Unit continues to be an asset, not only to the citizens of Cherokee County, but also to the prosecution of violent crimes. I also want to thank Deputy DA Summer McWhorter and Chief Deputy DA Bob Johnston who have been preparing this case for trial,” added O’Dell.
“Thank you to everyone who has been working diligently on this case. Our partners in law enforcement help make our jobs easier by conducting complete and thorough investigations. We will continue to keep the family of the victim in our thoughts and prayers. This has been an understandably difficult time for them, but we hope with this resolution, their healing can continue,” remarked McWhorter.