published Saturday, July 6th, 2013

Dalton man pleads guilty to murder

A Georgia man was sentenced to life in prison Friday after pleading guilty to multiple counts of murder, aggravated assault and weapons charges for the 2012 killing of his father and brother and the shooting of his mother.

Emilio Christopher Canales, 28, of 1011 Dude St. in Dalton, pleaded guilty to two counts of murder, three counts of aggravated assault, three counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and three counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, according to a news release from District Attorney Bert Poston.

Superior Court Judge William T. Boyett sentenced Canales to life without possibility of parole in the deaths of his father and brother, 20 years on each of the aggravated assault counts and five years on each of the weapons charges, the release states.

Prosecutors and Canales' attorney, public defender Michael McCarthy, could challenge the sentence at a hearing they requested now set for Aug. 2 to hear aggravating and mitigating evidence, according to Poston. Boyett also ordered the State Probation Office to conduct a post-sentence investigation for the hearing.

Canales was arrested April 29, 2012, after his wounded mother, Deborah Canales, fled to a neighbor's home to call for help after she'd been shot in the lower back.

Emilio Canales Sr. and Francisco Canales were found dead inside the Canales home, the elder man in his bedroom with two bullet wounds to his head and another in the back of his left shoulder, the release states. Francisco Canales was found dead in the living room, shot in the back and side.

Emilio Christopher Canales fled before officers got to the home, but he was arrested later at the same location by Whitfield County deputies.

Police records show Emilio Christopher Canales has a long criminal history and an affiliation with the Surenos gang.

Poston said the main issue in the Aug. 2 hearing is whether Canales should be sentenced to life in prison with or without the possibility for parole.

If Canales' sentence is changed to life with parole, state law requires him to serve 30 years before he becomes eligible for parole. If the present sentence is upheld, Canales will never be paroled, Poston said.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@times or 423-757-6569.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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