Fulton County District Attorney, Paul Howard, Jr. today announced a conviction by guilty plea in connection with the murder of Barney Simms. On November 13, 2017, Eric Banks, Jr., 18, plead guilty to the April 9, 2016, murder of community leader Barney Simms.
On April 9, 2016, Eric Banks Jr. shot Barney Simms, 70, twice in his back. Atlanta Police found Simms’ body in his own front yard near the 2800 block of Connally Drive. Simms’ wallet and car were stolen. The front door of his home was left wide open and a flat screen television was also missing. Investigators tracked Barney Simms’ most recent purchase which led them to surveillance video of Banks eating with Simms at a Waffle House on Virginia Avenue the day of the shooting. Several of Banks’ relatives confirmed his identity after watching the surveillance video. Investigators also traced fraudulent charges made to Simms’ bank card further confirming Banks as the perpetrator.
On April 14, 2016, Atlanta Police officers took Banks into custody after his mother turned him in at her home near the 1800 block of Plaza Lane. When questioned by detectives, Banks confessed to shooting Simms twice in the back and stealing his car and related personal items. Police later located Barney Simms’ vehicle in Banks’ neighborhood near the 1800 block of Idlewood Drive in East Point.
“Barney Simms was a highly-respected leader and community activist. His death was a senseless killing leaving a large hole in our community. It is our hope that this plea to murder will bring a sense of closure to the family and to the citizens of our county,” said Fulton County District Attorney, Paul Howard, Jr.
On November 13, 2017, Banks entered a guilty plea for the following charges: Malice Murder, Felony Murder (3 counts), Hijacking a Motor Vehicle, Armed Robbery and Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon and Possession of Firearm During Commission of a Felony.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge, Kimberly M. Esmond Adams sentenced Banks to 35 years to serve in prison without the possibility of parole. The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney, Adam Abbate with assistance from Assistant District Attorney, Rudy Harris and Investigator, Rashid Hamilton of the Fulton County District Attorney’s Investigations Unit. Atlanta Police Detective Kyle Kleinhenz served as the lead investigator.