Convicted shooter says she ‘loved’ slain victim, but man’s relative calls her out

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Atoya Holmes in court on Jan. 12, 2024, as a cousin of Verdell Goins calls her out. (Screenshots: WTVJ)

Atoya Holmes in court on Jan. 12, 2024, as a cousin of Verdell Goins calls her out. (Screenshots: WTVJ)

A former federal correctional officer maintained on Friday that she loved the man she killed. The victim’s relatives did not buy it, and the judge put responsibility for the shooting in her hands.

“Ninety-nine percent of the fights that you had with my cousin, you started,” a relative of the slain Verdell Goins, 52, told the defendant, Atoya Holmes, 48, as seen on footage from WTVJ. “My cousin was not a woman-beater.”

Holmes was sentenced to 13 years in prison — two years short of the maximum sentence — and two years of community control.

Jurors in Miami, Florida, convicted Holmes in October of a lesser charge of manslaughter, down from second-degree murder as charged. She testified that she shot and killed Goins in his SUV after a Miami Dolphins game because he was beating her. She maintained on Friday that she was “fighting for my life.” Even so, she also maintained that she loved him.

“I loved that man, and I’m not talking about just a love between a man and a woman,” Holmes said. “I loved him with something that I can’t even explain.”

Prosecutors painted that so-called love as jealousy and obsession. Holmes, who was married to then-Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Arthur Holmes, became upset that Goins was dating another woman, they reportedly said.

“He was patient. He was kind,” another of Goins’ loved ones told the court on Friday. “He was loving. He was caring.”

Judge William Altfield said Friday that he did not believe Holmes’ testimony, and he noted that she shot Goins twice.

“You made the choice to take out the firearm, and you are a law enforcement officer,” the judge said. “You know that if you are pulling out that firearm, you are pulling it out to use it.”

“She very well snapped on November 7,” Assistant State Attorney Sarah Imm reportedly said at the trial of the 2021 shooting. “Not for her fear for her life, it was out of jealousy, rage, and had a deprived mind.”

Police previously said that defendant Holmes shot her son. At the time, they said he had been trying to force his way inside her home amid his fight with his stepfather.

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