Nephew says uncle's death was unintentional

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Elaine Rackley


"It was an accident," said Craig Alan Sams, of the family brawl that resulted in the death of his uncle, at a Stockbridge home where other family members were present.

"I didn't know it was a murder case, until I got [in Henry County Magistrate Court]," said Sams, in an interview with the Henry Daily Herald, Thursday, following his release from the Henry County Jail.

Henry County Police have charged Sams, 22, with murder in connection with the death of James Garrett Sams, 54. Police initially charged Craig Sams only with criminal trespass and battery (under the Family Violence Act).

Superior Court Judge Arch McGarity set Craig Sams' bond at $50,000 for the three charges against him.

The unemployed construction worker said he plans to plead "not guilty" in the case.

"My court date was [Wednesday] at 9 a.m.," said Sams. "The judge would not let me in the courtroom, because I didn't have a lawyer. I told them I wanted a court-appointed attorney."

The altercation involving Sams and his uncle, also included his father, Clifford Sams, 49. Clifford and James Sams are brothers. Craig Sams would not reveal what sparked the fight.

Neither members of the family, nor the police would discuss the nature of the injuries sustained by any parties involved in the alleged scuffle.

Police said Clifford Sams was not injured, but James Garrett Sams' injuries required hospitalization.

"On May 12, James Garrett Sams and his nephew, Craig Alan Sams, were involved in an altercation at their residence in Stockbridge," said Henry County Police Sgt. Mike Ireland.

"During the altercation, James Garrett Sams suffered injuries which required him to be transported to Henry Medical Center, and later transported to Grady Hospital."

Police said the incident occurred about 1 p.m., and James Garrett Sams died a couple hours later at Grady.

"The detective will not have the official cause of death until an autopsy result is returned," added Ireland.