Judge Stephen Goss was found dead from a single gunshot wound in a wooded area outside his home Saturday morning. On Monday, Dougherty County Coroner Michael Fowler announced that the death was a suicide.

ALBANY -- Albany police say Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Goss died Saturday from a single gunshot wound in a wooded area on the 600 block of Greenwood Drive.

Amid speculation that the fatal shot was self-inflicted, Dougherty County Coroner Michael Fowler said that such determination had not been made by mid-morning Saturday.

"We're out here working on that, investigating the case," Fowler told The Albany Herald. "We're going to look at this carefully, make sure we have all the evidence available before making such a determination.

"We are treating this as a homicide, and we won't close the chapter until we've exhausted all efforts to determine what happened. Judge Goss is deceased, and it was from a single gunshot. I really can't say much more than that at this time. This investigation will continue probably for a couple of days."

The Albany Police Department sent out a news brief just before 10 a.m. saying APD had been dispatched to the scene at 8:11 a.m.

Goss, who'd served as judge in Dougherty Superior Court for 19 years after being appointed to that position in 1999, was named to the Georgia Court of Appeals by then-Gov. Nathan Deal on Aug. 1 of 2018. He'd been re-elected to his post as Superior Court judge five times after being appointed to the position by Gov. Roy Barnes.

A University of Georgia Law School graduate, Goss was a partner in the Watson Spence Lowe and Chambless and Cannon, Meyer von Bremen and Goss law firms before being appointed as Dougherty Circuit Juvenile Court judge in 1995. He served in that court until being appointed to an open Dougherty Superior Court judgeship in 1999 by Barnes.

A native of Sale City in Mitchell County, Goss graduated from the University of Georgia in 1983 and from the UGA Law School in 1986. He was lauded nationwide as the founder of the Dougherty Superior Court Mental Health/Substance Abuse treatment program that evolved into the Mental Health Court that became a nationwide model.

Goss was married to the former Dee Collins of Mitchell County. She taught middle school in Albany for 33 years. The Gosses have two daughters, Collins and Clark, and a son, Clint.

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