District Attorney's Office


Conasauga Judicial Circuit of Georgia

   Serving Murray & Whitfield Counties


October 18, 2019 (Dalton) – Michael Brandon Townsend (40), formerly of 234 Tanglewood Drive, Dalton, was sentenced today to serve consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole by Superior Court Judge Scott Minter. Townsend was convicted of the murders of Judy Potts and Cristal Spainhour by a Whitfield County jury on September 12, 2019 following a four-day trial. Townsend was also convicted of aggravated assault and aggravated battery against the two women but those charges merged with the murder convictions for sentencing purposes. Townsend was represented by Blake Skipper and Andrew Powell of the Public Defender’s Office. The State’s case was presented by District Attorney Bert Poston and Assistant District Attorney Christina Antalis.

On January 10, 2019, Townsend called 911 to request law enforcement at the 234 Tanglewood Drive residence where he lived with Potts and her adult daughter Cristal. Townsend and Spainhour had previously worked together at the same business and had become friends. She and her mother had been allowing Townsend to live at the residence for several months prior to the murders. Responding officers with the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office found Townsend waiting for them in the driveway where he surrendered without incident. Entering the residence, they found the bodies of Potts and Spainhour badly beaten about the face and suffering from stab wounds and lacerations to the necks. Both were deceased when found by law enforcement and examined by a paramedic. The evidence at trial, including two detailed video-taped confessions from Townsend established that Townsend had become angry when Cristal directed her mother to call 911 after a verbal argument. Law enforcement had been to the residence two-days earlier about a similar verbal dispute. Townsend grabbed Cristal and began punching her in the face, pushed her to the ground and began strangling her with one hand while striking her with the other. When Potts intervened, Townsend grabbed her and forced her to the ground as well, beating her head onto the floor several times until she stopped fighting back. He then strangled the mother and daughter side-by-side, one in each hand, until they lost consciousness or at least stopped resisting. Thereafter, he stomped on both women’s faces, causing significant skull fractures to Potts in particular and then cut both women’s throats to make sure that they were dead. The medical examiner testified that the women were still alive at the time of the stomping, but had likely expired before their throats were cut.

Townsend was on probation for methamphetamine at the time of the incident and had a history of domestic violence incidents involving his mother. His defense attorneys raised an insanity defense at trial, arguing that Townsend did not know the difference between right and wrong at the time of his actions. The expert witness called by the defense, Dr. Samuel Perri with the Georgia Department of Behavior Health and Developmental Disabilities disagreed. Dr. Perri explained that being angry and not caring what was right or wrong is not the same as lacking the capacity to know right from wrong. Only the severely mental disabled, or those suffering from significant brain damage or severe delusions may genuinely lack the capacity to know right from wrong sufficient to be considered legally insane. Townsend did not meet those criteria. The jury rejected Townsend’s insanity defense and found him guilty on all charges.

Bert Poston
District Attorney
Conasauga Judicial Circuit

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Bert Poston,
District Attorney

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