NWGA Scanner | July 29th, 2022

Chatsworth man pleads guilty to killing man last Christmas in Murray County, sentenced to 25 years without parole

Brandon Neil Wiseman, 36, of Chatsworth, entered a guilty plea Wednesday to charges arising from the killing of Joshua Dewayne Petty last Christmas.  Wiseman pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.  

Wiseman was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Scott Minter, pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement, to serve the maximum of 20 years in prison on the manslaughter charge plus an additional five years in prison for possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, for a total of 25 years to serve in prison without the possibility of parole.  Wiseman was sentenced to an additional five years on probation for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon with conditions including restitution for funeral expenses and that he have no contact with Mr. Petty’s family.  Wiseman was represented by the Public Defender’s Office.  

Wiseman shot and killed Mr. Petty during a verbal dispute in the early morning hours of December 26, 2021 in the driveway of Mr. Petty’s in-laws. Wiseman fled the scene and was arrested two days later in Tennessee.  After his arrest, Wiseman admitted that he had killed Mr. Petty but claimed self defense.  He was not, however, able to articulate facts which would support a self defense claim at trial.  He did not allege that Mr. Petty had attacked him or had threatened him with deadly force.  There was a history between them and they had words that night and Wiseman claimed he thought Mr. Petty had something in his hand.  Wiseman was no longer in possession of the firearm when arrested and the weapon was never recovered.

Voluntary manslaughter is a lesser included offense to murder and is defined as a killing which would otherwise be murder but where the defendants “acts solely as a result of a sudden, violent, and irresistible passion resulting from serious provocation sufficient to excite such passion in a reasonable person.”  Had the case gone to trial, which was scheduled in October, Wiseman could have requested and likely would have received a jury instruction on voluntary manslaughter in which the jury would have ultimately decided if there was sufficient provocation to warrant reducing the murder to manslaughter.  By entering the negotiated guilty plea, the State agreed to the reduced charge and Wiseman agreed to serve the time without the possibility of parole.  He will serve every day of the 25 years with credit for the time served since his arrest in late December.  

Wiseman had been arrested 34 times in Georgia plus six times in Tennessee prior to killing Mr. Petty.  Most of those arrests were for traffic offenses, non-violent drug offenses, violations of probation, and failures to appear in court as directed.  He had three prior felony convictions.  In 2010 he was convicted on felony drug charges in Scott County, Tn. and in 2011 for similar charges in Whitfield County.  And most recently in 2015 for felony traffic charges (fleeing to elude and suspended license) in Murray County.  

Numerous members of Mr. Petty’s family were present in court for the sentencing.  Several submitted written victim impact statements and two read their statements in court.  While the family agreed to extend the plea offer to Wiseman, they were still grieving their loss and acknowledged that no amount of prison time for Wiseman would ever be enough.  Wiseman had to listen to the victim’s statements prior to sentencing and was facing a photograph of Mr. Petty while Judge Minter pronounced sentencing, but made no statement to the court or to the family and showed no reaction to the sentence before being escorted from the courtroom by Murray County Sheriff’s deputies.