March 1, 2011
Posted: 09:43 AM ET
Atlanta, GA – Garrett Kopp's father, Mitchell, said he suspected something was terribly wrong in the friendship between his son and Christopher Sutton. Christopher seemed to have Garrett on a short leash, and Garrett would rush out of the house whenever Christopher would call for him. When Garrett was arrested the day after the shootings for an unrelated crime, Christopher confronted Garrett’s dad, pressuring him to get Garrett out of jail.
During a car ride with Garrett and Christopher, Mitchell found the courage to confront the men about their strange behavior.
"We're talking in the car about the Jets, or the Raiders, or whatever, and all of the sudden I say... 'I think you [Christopher] have something on my son. There's a weird behavior,'" Mitchell said. "And all of the sudden it got ice cold in the car."
This was the beginning of Mitchell's heartbreaking discovery that his son had taken a dark turn. But Mitchell said Garrett, who confessed to shooting John and Susan Sutton, started on the right path.
According to Mitchell, Garrett was a "normal kid" who only occasionally got into trouble.
"Growing up, he was an upstanding young kid," Mitchell said. "We had him in Christian schools. Did everything we could for him. All kinds of programs."
In high school, Garrett got into drugs, but Mitchell blames Christopher for Garrett's murderous actions, saying Sutton enticed his son with money and drugs.
"I think he was kind of picked and groomed for this if you ask me," said Mitchell. "He wasn't like that. He didn't break into people's homes before he met this guy."
Mitchell persuaded Garrett to confess to the shootings, telling his son, "Truth reigns. Karma comes back at you."
Today, Garrett is serving a 30-year prison sentence, but he and his father are trying to move forward. Mitchell visits his son often. Garrett has never explained his actions to his father; instead, the men keep their conversations positive, working to put the past behind them.
-Cara Hutt, In Session Production Assistant
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