Our children are precious to each and every one of us. I couldn't imagine being Mitchell Goss's mother in the trial that ultimately led to her son's killer being ordered to spend the rest of his life behind bars earlier this week.
At 3 months old, baby Mitchell lived a stressful life. That baby never deserved to die.
This young child was born into a world of drug use. The baby's mother admitted she and husband both used meth, but also said she did her best to shield her child from her illegal habits. She also pleaded with her then-husband, Zachary Atwood, to seek medical attention days before the child's death.
Three days before baby Mitchell died, his mother, Michelle "Sunnie" Thomas, noticed he had bruises on him. This was enough to send her into panic mode and she started questioning Atwood about why he wouldn't take the baby to the hospital. She said she also noticed the baby's cry began sounding faint and she was unable to take the baby to the hospital herself because Atwood had annexed her from her family, denied her access to his cell phone and neither of the two had a vehicle. I don't know of any 3-month-old child that should have bruises on them.
At no point during the trial did Atwood appear remorseful that the young child he said considered his own was dead. He didn't care when he was questioned by police following the baby's death either. I'm not sure that this man ever truly considered baby Mitchell to be his own.
Atwood is a terrible person. A man who beat his wife and his mother in front of his 5-year-old daughter. To him, it was the best environment for his daughter. During testimony against him, it was revealed that he said he's glad his daughter saw him beat her mother. Then again, this is also the man who tried to say it was his "fat" daughter's fault the baby was dead.
Atwood's trial began Monday and ended Wednesday. It was difficult to sit through, and listen to his horrid excuses for why this infant died suddenly. I must say, deputy prosecutors John Hout and Colin Wall did an amazing job ensuring this man went to prison.
Playing as much of Atwood's interrogation videos as they were legally allowed to was a good decision. By listening to an Arkansas State Police investigator question this man for hours, jurors were able to hear the many lies Atwood spat out as he constantly slapped and scratched at himself while he was unable to sit still while high on meth.
Not only watching these videos, but also having investigator Mike Garlington present to testify that he never believed Atwood was telling the truth. Two experts also said the same: there was no way this baby died the way Atwood described. Atwood claimed he sat on the baby, possibly causing injury in his second round of questioning. There's not a soul who believes that to be true, not even him.
Throughout the trial, he sat with a grimace on his face and asked as often as he could for fresh coffee in a new cup. He wasn't scared for his future, and he did not feel bad for killing an infant child and hurting the hearts of the young child's family.
One good thing came of this horror story: Sunnie got clean. The infant's mother now has a happy life with a husband who doesn't abuse her. She can brag that she's been sober for nearly three years. It was encouraging to hear that while she will always miss her child, her family found a sense of peace knowing Zachary Atwood can never harm another innocent person for the rest of his life as he spends the rest of his days in prison.
Know of a local resident who deserves recognition, have a question regarding a Faulkner County issue or want to provide a news tip? Contact Log Cabin Democrat reporter Marisa Hicks via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 501-505-1277. Hicks has served on the LCD’s team for three years as the local crime reporter.