A 21 year-old Rome man, Joe Paul Atwater, who has been jailed since he was a teen was acquitted for murder and released on Wednesday.

A jury found Atwater not guilty after his attorney argued that he was only acting in self defense when he shot and killed Jonathan Lynn Hull back in 2019.

The state argued that  Hull was retreating from a verbal altercation when he was shot. GBI medical examiner Andrew Koopmeiners testified that the bullet had entered through Hull’s left lower back and exited on the opposite side of his chest.

PREVIOUS September 13 2019

Murder suspect Joe Paul Atwater, 19 of Rome, has been jailed for the shooting death of 26 year-old Jonathan Lynn Hull.

Police said that Atwater shot and killed Hull back on August 19, 2019 at a home on Walnut Avenue.

Atwater is charged with murder and aggravated assault.


The Rome Police Department is investigating the shooting of Jonathan Lynn Hull 26 years of age of a Walnut Ave. Rome address. On August 17, 2019 approximately at 17:27 a shots fired call was reported outside an apartment complex located at 3 Cliff View Drive Rome, Georgia. A black male was found outside the building and a resident began first aid measures and alerted responding personnel that it was an actual shooting at the location. The victim was transported to Floyd Medical Center where he was pronounced deceased. The victim will be transported to the GBI Crime Lab awaiting an autopsy.

The incident is under investigation at this time by the Rome Police Department to determine the cause for the altercation. 

The suspect has been identified as Joe Paul Atwater. The suspects location is not known at this time. He is considered dangerous. Warrants have been issued for Aggravated Assault and Felony Murder.

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Rome Police Department Criminal Investigation Division. If you have a location of the suspect call 911 immediately.