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Man gets life plus 7 for murder
Francis found guilty in 2006 shooting of wife

COVINGTON - Newton County Superior Court Judge Horace Johnson sentenced Thomas Marlin Francis on Thursday to life in prison, plus seven years, after a jury found him guilty last week of malice murder and 11 other charges related to the 2006 shooting death of his wife, Denise Michelle Francis.

According to Assistant District Attorney Melanie McCrorey, life plus seven years is the maximum sentence allowed by law.

Francis, 63, was charged with shooting his wife three times on Halloween morning as she sat drying her hair in the master bathroom of their Social Circle home at 15 Rutherford Drive in the Surrey Chase subdivision.

During last week's trial, jury members were played a 911 recording of Denise Francis' desperate call for help before her death. They also heard a recording of a 911 dispatcher's conversation with Francis made three minutes after he allegedly delivered the fatal shot to the back of his wife's head.

Francis, a former deputy in Rockdale and Newton counties, maintained that he had killed his wife in an act of self defense. However, it took the jury only an hour to return a verdict of "guilty on all counts" - on one count of malice murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, five counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, one count of family violence battery, and one count of obstruction of an emergency call.

Colin Stewart may be reached at colin.stewart@rockdalecitizen.com.