Man pleads guilty to killing estranged wife and friend

Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 10:23 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - A man will now spend the rest of his life in prison after pleading guilty to killing his estranged wife and his friend Tuesday.

Gwendolyn McMillan and Daniel Bonham were shot and killed in February.

John McMillan pleaded guilty to four charges, two counts of malice murder and two counts of aggravated assault. Gun charges were dropped due to John being sentenced to serve life in prison without parole.

Since the case did not go to trial, the state presented what its evidence would have been.

Dougherty County Assistant District Attorney Drew Lane argued that John McMillan went to his estranged wife’s home, shot her in the head, ultimately killing her. He said neighbors close by heard gunshots and saw him leaving the home.

Lane said later that day, McMillan confronted Bonham and three others, the first time, at the Royal Inn asking for heroin.

Lane said the second time, McMillan returned but it was unclear if it was for the same reason.

“Mr. Daniel bonham begged for his life and told him just to leave. The defendant reportedly said words to the effect of, ‘OK, I’ll leave then,’ shooting Mr. Bonham in the back of the head which inflicted the fatal wounds. He then left,” said Lane.

Lane claimed the victims involved were allegedly recovering addicts. He said blood was drawn from McMillan after his arrest and it showed he had heroin, meth, cocaine, and THC in his system.

Judge Denise Marshall sentenced McMillan to life without parole on the two malice murder counts and 20 years in prison on the two aggravated assault counts. All counts will be served concurrently.

Charles Kress, Gwendolyn McMillan’s son, and John McMillan’s stepson, addressed the court Tuesday, saying he can’t speak for his entire family, but that he forgives McMillan.

“I just wanted to ask him the truth as to why he murdered my mom. I don’t know why it happened, I don’t understand it. But God just placed it on my heart to let him know that I do forgive him,” said Kress.

Daniel Bonham’s sister, Patricia Belue also wanted to know why. She acknowledged the effect drugs had on her brother, as well as John, who she calls Scott.

“I think that’s what everybody called him as a friend. Why Scott would kill my brother Danny? He has impacted my life, he took my little brother away from me. But my little brother was taken away from me years ago, just like Scott’s life was taken away from him when he started doing drugs,” said Belue.

Lane told the court what John told police in regards to Gwendolyn McMillan’s death.

“Basically, all he said to police was that the ‘B’ was trying to kill me with bug spray,” said Lane.

Lane said the state believes John McMillan was under the influence of drugs when he said that.

The court gave McMillan a chance to address his stepson, apologizing for both Gwendolyn and Bonham’s deaths.

“I’m just sorry. I cry for her every day. She’s the only person that ever loved me. I’m glad you forgive me because I’ll never forgive myself. That’s why I’m not trying to fight any of this,” said McMillan.

Lane informed the court that John McMillan has also been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

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