Franklin County man pleads guilty to Voluntary Manslaughter in 2019 Fatal shooting

By MJ Kneiser, WLHR

A Franklin County man, charged in the April 2019 shooting death of Michael John Ehlers of Poplar Springs in Gumlog pleaded guilty in Franklin County Superior Court Friday to Voluntary Manslaughter and a lesser charge of murder, according to District Attorney Parks White.

White tells WNEG’s sister station WLHR News 31-year-old William “Billy” Lamar Whitworth of Trout Drive in Gumlog was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison.

White said Whitworth will have to serve 18 years of the sentence before being eligible for parole.

On Saturday, April 12, 2019,  Franklin County EMS and Sheriff’s deputies were called to the home of Michael John Ehlers and found a white male in his 50’s who had been shot in the face.

The victim was later identified as Ehlers.

Sheriff’s investigators, along with agents from the Athens office of the GBI continued to conduct interviews and the following Tuesday arrested Whitworth.

White said the investigation revealed Ehlers and Whitworth were taking turns firing a faulty .22 caliber handgun in Ehler’s yard when it accidentally discharged.

Ehlers was airlifted to Greenville Hospital where he underwent surgery, but he died the next day from a single gunshot wound.

Whitworth was later indicted by a Franklin County Grand Jury on charges of Felony Murder, Aggravated Assault, and Possession Of A Firearm By a Convicted Felon.

White thanked the Franklin County Sheriff’s investigators and the agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for their hard-work in bringing the case to a successful conclusion.