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Entries in Georgia (76)

Tuesday
Sep182012

Stabbing Survivor Grilled by Man Accused of Stabbing Him, Strangling Mom

Comstock/Thinkstock(MARIETTA, Ga.) -- It was clearly going to be a grueling day of testimony for Nick Smith as he was about to be cross-examined by the man accused of murdering his mother and stabbing him 18 times when he was only 5 years old.

Smith began crying shortly after taking the stand in Marietta, Ga., and was just spelling his name.

Smith, now 22, was testifying in the murder trial of Waseem Daker, who was acting as his own attorney.

Daker spent 10 years in prison for stalking Loretta Spencer Blatz, who was roommates with Nick Smith and his mother, Karmen Smith.

Shortly before Daker went to prison in 1995, Karmen Smith was strangled and Nick Smith was savagely attacked when he came home from school.

Smith recounted the assault in court Tuesday for prosecutors and then was cross-examined by Daker. His testimony, he noted to prosecutors, came on what would have been his mother's birthday.

"I got home from school and my mom's car was still in the driveway so I thought she was home," Smith said through tears. "And I went downstairs and she wasn't there."

He said he went to upstairs to play with a friend, but returned again looking for his mother, but saw a man there instead.

"From what I could tell it was a man, but it was really dark and I just assumed that it was someone that I knew....The person in the room grabbed me and started stabbing me a bunch and I tried to yell and he covered my mouth and then he kept stabbing me," Smith said.

The stabbings, he said, "felt like I was getting punched."

Smith said he remembered a gloved hand over his mouth. He said his assailant was also wearing a black mask of some sort that covered his face. He said because of the mask he wasn't able to get a good look at the man who attacked him.

"I have stab wounds all over my chest and a stab wound in my hand," he testified and lifted his shirt to show the jury the 17 stab wounds on his chest and one to his hand.

When Daker took over the questioning, he asked Smith if he had heard the recordings of the statements he gave right after the attack. Smith responded that he wouldn't want to, and said he doesn't remember telling the detectives at the time that he could see his attacker's eyes, which he said were blue.

"I was in the hospital and had gotten stabbed repeatedly by you, so I don't think that's a very good time to be asking a 5-year-old questions like that," Smith responded.

Daker had long been a suspect in Karmen Smith's murder, but it wasn't until 2009 that hairs found on Karmen Smith's body matched Daker's DNA.

It was the second day of dramatic testimony in the trial. Last Friday, Blatz took the stand and was clearly rattled having to be grilled by the man imprisoned for stalking her relentlessly and accused of murdering her roommate.

After several hours of questioning, Blatz fought back against Daker when he asked the judge to label her testimony during his questioning as "inappropriate."

"Well, you know, it's really inappropriate that you stalk me and harass me, and you're sitting here asking me questions, and I have to come back with you and answer your questions, that's hard for me," she said, breaking down and sobbing.

"I didn't realize this was going to turn into murder. My God, I mean, if I would have known I would have taken notes," she told the court.

Daker was imprisoned for stalking Blatz after the two met on a paintball team in 1995. He began calling her at all hours, showing up unexpectedly at her home and refusing to leave, and even breaking into her home.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep172012

Georgia Woman Testifies Against Stalker, Now Accused of Killing Her Roommate

Comstock/Thinkstock(MARIETTA, Ga.) -- A 17-year-old murder case has brought a convicted stalker face-to-face in a Georgia courtroom with the woman he harassed. He is now on trial, accused of killing her roommate as an act of revenge for reporting him to police.

Waseem Daker spent nearly 10 years in jail for stalking Loretta Spencer Blatz. The two met on a paintball team in 1995, and he reportedly refused to take a hint, calling her at all hours, showing up at her home, refusing to leave, and even breaking into her home.

Daker was convicted in 1996. But before he went to jail, Blatz’s roommate, Karmen Smith, was found strangled to death in the home she and Blatz shared. Smith was a Delta flight attendant, and lived at the home with her five-year-old son. The boy was stabbed multiple times during the attack, but survived.

Police long suspected Daker was responsible for the attack, but they weren’t able to connect Daker to the murder until 2009 -- three years after he was released on the stalking conviction. Police now had the power of DNA tests: they announced that hairs found on Smith’s body put Daker at the scene of her murder.

At court in Marietta, Ga., Daker has dismissed his court-appointed lawyers and is now acting as his own counsel. That’s made for awkward and emotional witness questioning. Loretta Spencer Blatz was grilled on the witness stand by the man she helped put away. She was, at times, overcome with emotion.

In court last Friday, when Daker asked the judge to label her testimony “inappropriate,” Blatz fought back.

“Well, you know, it’s really inappropriate that you stalk me and harass me, and you’re sitting here asking me questions, and I have to come back with you and answer your questions, that’s hard for me!”

“I didn’t realize this was going to turn into murder,” she said. “My God, I mean, if I would have known I would have taken notes.”

Daker has argued in court that he and Blatz were a couple and that he had no reason to come after her roommate and her roommate’s son. He’s pleaded not guilty.

But on Monday, Blatz’s former fiancée testified Daker continued to threaten her and show up unannounced even after she filed a restraining order.

This week, the five-year-old boy who survived the stabbings is expected to testify. Nick Smith, the son of Blatz’s former roommate, is now a grown man in his early 20s.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug282012

Hannah Truelove Murder: Police Interviewing Murdered Teen's Friends

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(GAINESVILLE, Ga.) -- Police in Georgia said they are interviewing the friends of a slain teen who tweeted days before her death that she had a "stalker," trying to find a lead regarding who might have killed the girl.

Hannah Truelove, 16, was found dead Friday in a wooded area near the apartment she shared with her mother, one day after she was reported missing, police said.

LaCrisia Larkin, the principal of Gainesville High School, where Truelove was a student, said she was not aware whether Truelove had any issues with a "stalker."

"She had a very supportive group of friends she hung around," Larkin said. "She was a sweet young lady, very mannerable and respectful."

Sgt. Kiley Sargent, spokesman for the Hall County Sheriff's Office, said investigators are "looking at different avenues," including whether someone had been stalking the teen.

"We have to determine what she meant by stalker," Sargent said. "A stalker to a 16-year-old might not be a stalker to what may be Georgia code official."

Truelove had obvious signs of trauma on her body, but the results of an autopsy are being withheld to avoid compromising the investigation, Sargent said.

"Most of the leads we are getting are from people who are living in and around the neighborhood," he said. "We are following each one."

Hannah tweeted days before her disappearance that she was being stalked.

"I got me an uglya-- stalker," she tweeted Aug. 12.

"So scared right now," she wrote Aug. 18.

And on Aug. 22, the day before she disappeared she wrote: "I need to move out of these dang apartments."

Just two weeks into the school year, students and staff at Truelove's high school are trying to cope with their shocking loss, Larkin said.

A large rock at the front of the school usually reserved for messages and reminders was turned into a memorial for the teen.

Students helped paint the rock with messages of love, including a large "Heart for Hannah" and "R.I.P."

"What is surprising is so many times the students give the adults energy," Larkin said. "We are just rallying around each other."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug272012

Georgia Teen Tweeted About Stalker Days Before Body Was Found

Goodshoot RF/Thinkstock(GAINESVILLE, Ga.) -- Police are using tweets about a "stalker" to investigate the homicide of a girl who had been missing for a day in North Georgia.

Hannah Truelove, 16, was found dead Friday in a wooded area near the apartment she shared with her mother, one day after she was reported missing, police said.

A resident of the complex discovered the teen's body, which showed signs of trauma, said Sgt. Kiley Sargent, spokesman for the Hall County Sheriff's Office.

An autopsy has been completed but detectives are withholding the cause of death to avoid compromising the investigation, Sargent said.

Hannah tweeted days before her disappearance that she was being stalked.

"I got me an uglya-- stalker," she tweeted Aug. 12.

"So scared right now," she wrote Aug. 18.

"I need to move out of these dang apartments," she wrote Aug. 22, the day before she disappeared.

Sargent said investigators are "looking at different avenues," including whether someone had been stalking Hannah.

"We have to determine what she meant by stalker," Sargent said. "A stalker to a 16-year-old might not be a stalker to what may be Georgia code official. We're trying to determine what she meant by that."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug272012

World’s Oldest Person, Besse Cooper, Turns 116

Jessica McGowan/Guinness World Records(MONROE, Ga.) -- It’s difficult enough to fit 16 candles on a birthday cake, but trying squeezing 116 onto one.

Besse Cooper, the world’s oldest person according to the Guinness World Records, chose to use numbers instead of actual candles when she celebrated her 116th birthday Sunday. Guinness claims Cooper is one of only eight people who have reached 116.

In honor of Cooper’s achievement, a bridge was named after her in Monroe, Ga., where she lives by the Walton County Board of Commissioners,  according to the Walton Tribune.  A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Friday, Aug. 24 for the bridge opening.

“The older she has gotten the more wittier she has gotten,” her son, Sidney Cooper, told the Walton Tribune. He also relayed a message from Cooper, who was unable to attend the ceremony, who said, “I’m glad I gave them a reason to name it.”

Cooper was certified as the world’s oldest person by Guinness World Records in January 2011, although she briefly had to give up her title when it was discovered that Brazilian-born Maria Gomes Valentin was 48 days older. But when Valentin died six months later, Cooper was reinstated as the world’s oldest person.

Cooper was born in Sullivan, Tenn., in 1896, according to the Walton Tribune. She moved to Monroe during World War I to become a teacher. In 1924, she married her husband Luther and the couple had four children. Today, Cooper has 12 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren, according to the Guinness World Records.

Cooper has a secret to achieving 116 years of life.

“I mind my own business,” she told the Guinness World Records. “And I don’t eat junk food.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun202012

Georgia Man Accused of Shooting Wife Had Double Life 

ABC News(ATLANTA) -- In the days after Adina Parson was shot eight times outside her Sandy Springs, Ga., apartment complex, her husband Michael was by her side, ever the concerned husband.

But in the hours he wasn't spending with his wife, he was living with his fiancé in a motel room near the hospital, communicating with prepaid cellphones, according to a warrant obtained by ABC News' Atlanta affiliate WSB-TV.

Michael Parson, 42, is charged with aggravated assault, aggravated battery, possession of a firearm while committing a felony, and giving false statements after the April 20 shooting of his 42-year-old wife, Adina Parson.

When Parson arrived at the scene and was told what happened to his wife, he told police he had been at the VA Hospital receiving cancer treatment, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

That lie was the beginning of an elaborate tapestry that police began to unravel, exposing Parson's alleged double life and leading to his arrest.

Parson's fiancé, who was identified as "Rachel," told police she and Parson had set an October wedding date.  Rachel said she was misled and was told that Adina was her fiancé's aunt, according to the warrant.

Ying Amat, Parson's ex-wife, told ABC News she remained close to Michael and Adina Parson.  She said she had never heard of Rachel and knew of no strains in the Parsons' marriage.

"I don't even know this woman.  My children don't know her," Amat told ABC News.  Amat has a 17-year-old son with Parson and a child from another relationship, who she said the Parsons treated as their own.

"This is not the Michael I knew.  He was a good man, good dad," she said.  "[And] if there was anybody we could depend on, Adina was always there."

But Amat said "all of the evidence" is hard to ignore.

Phone records placed Parson at the scene of the crime around the time Adina Parson was shot.

Police began to conduct surveillance on Parson and interviewed a friend, who later admitted he had been asked to pose as Parson in the emergency room at the VA hospital in Decatur.

"[He] did not know about all the lies that M. Parson had been living by and felt used by M. Parson," the warrant said, according to WSB-TV.

A used firearm target, shell casings and ammunition were found after police executed a search warrant on Parson's apartment and garage.

A warrant was issued on May 4 for Parson's arrest, around the time police believe he fled the state.

Authorities caught up with Parson on May 5 near El Paso, Texas, after they traced him using financial records, according to the warrant.  He is being held at Fulton County Jail in Atlanta.

Adina Parson is expected to pull through, Amat said.

"She was doing good, making progress last I heard," she said.  "We really miss her."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jun162012

Six Women Arrested in Ladies-Only Gambling Ring

ABC News(GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga.) -- Police have arrested six women and seized 10 gambling machines in connection with an alleged all-female gambling league that was reportedly operating in a quiet residential neighborhood in Gwinnett County, Ga.

Police said they received an anonymous tip from a person who was upset about his spouse gambling too much at a home on Michaels Circle in Duluth, WSB-TV in Atlanta reported.

They busted the home and discovered it was essentially a "social club for women," complete with four gambling machines and $15,000 in cash, according to WSB-TV.

Neighbors told WSB-TV that they'd had no idea an alleged gambling league was operating in their midst, though they did see cars come and go from the home "day and night." Sometimes as many as 10 cars and even limousines would swing by, carrying groups of "older ladies."

"It seemed this was a woman's-only organization," Cpl. Jake Smith of the Gwinnett County Police Department told WSB-TV. "Men would come, but they were not permitted to gamble."

The police department arrested Mi Hui Yi, the woman who ran the alleged gambling operation, and from her learned of a second home around the corner on Old Norcross Road. When police raided it, they found women in the process of gambling, and several of them fled through the back of the house, Smith said.

Police arrested five more women there and seized more cash and six additional gambling machines. The six women have been booked into jail in Gwinnett County on multiple gambling-related charges, Smith said.

Gwinnett County police did not respond to ABC News calls for comment on the case.

Police are not yet sure whether there are more locations involved in the alleged gambling operations.

"That just goes to show you, you don't know what's going on right next door," Smith told WSB-TV.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun122012

KKK Group's Application to Adopt Georgia Highway Denied

Ray Wise/Flickr/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- A Ku Klux Klan group's controversial application to adopt a stretch of highway in north Georgia has been denied by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

"Promoting an organization with a history of inciting civil disturbance and social unrest would present a grave concern to the Department," spokesman David Spear wrote in a statement. "Issuing this permit would have the potential to negatively impact the quality of life, commerce and economic development of Union County and all of Georgia."

The group, the International Keystone Knights of the KKK, had applied to adopt a one-mile stretch of highway in northern Georgia.

"Maintaining the safety of our roadways is this Department's foremost mission," the statement said. "Encountering signage and members of the KKK along a roadway would create a definite distraction to motorists."

The GDOT also said that the section of roadway requested is ineligible for adoption because its posted speed limit of 65 mph exceeds the program's maximum of 55 mph. A letter of denial is being sent to the group.

The KKK group member who submitted the application did not respond to request for comment.

The application set off a battle between a state representative condemning the application and the group's ardent but anonymous leaders.

"The state of Georgia is absolutely shameful in even considering an application from the KKK," Democratic State Rep. Tyrone Brooks told ABC News. "If the state will accept an application from the KKK, we may as well get ready to accept applications from the Nazi party, Taliban, al Qaeda and Aryan Nation."

The group dismissed Brooks' comments.

"What we're trying to do is something positive and this Tyrone Brooks is trying to raise a stink about it. We just want to do something good for the community," a representative of the KKK group, who would only agree to be identified as the "Imperial Wizard," told ABC News.

The man was adamant that his real name not be used, in order to protect his job and family, he said.

"[Brooks is] coming out and calling the Klan a terrorist organization. Prove it in black and white that the U.S. government has labeled us a terrorist organization," the Imperial Wizard said. "Prove it. He needs to prove it. I challenge him."

The Imperial Wizard insisted that the Klan does not commit criminal acts and that "everybody has a past they want to forget about."

When asked if he maintained the beliefs of the KKK, notorious for violently condemning minorities and religious beliefs that conflict with their own, the Imperial Wizard said, "I'm a separatist. I'm not a racist. I believe in the separation of the races. It was originally printed in the Bible."

The Georgia Department of Transportation says on its website, "Any civic-minded organization, business, individual, family, city, county, state, or federal agency is welcome to volunteer in the Georgia Adopt-A-Highway program."

The case is similar to one in Missouri that turned into a lengthy legal battle. When a KKK group tried to adopt a Missouri road, the state tried to prevent it. The state eventually lost when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that membership in the "Adopt-a-Highway" program cannot be denied because of a group's political beliefs.

Brooks said he wants Georgia's story to end differently.

"I think the state of Georgia should send a loud, clear message that we are not going to allow the KKK to adopt our highways and byways," he said. "Say that firmly and then let the chips fall where they fall."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun112012

KKK Group Applies to Adopt Georgia Highway

Ray Wise/Flickr/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Ku Klux Klan has applied to adopt a stretch of highway in northern Georgia, setting off a battle between a state representative condemning the application and the group's ardent but anonymous leaders.

"The state of Georgia is absolutely shameful in even considering an application from the KKK," Democratic Georgia State Representative Tyrone Brooks told ABC News. "If the state will accept an application from the KKK, we may as well get ready to accept applications from the Nazi party, Taliban, Al Qaeda and Aryan Nation."

The group, the International Keystone Knights of the KKK, denied Brooks' comments.

"What we're trying to do is something positive and this Tyrone Brooks is trying to raise a stink about it. We just want to do something good for the community," a representative of the KKK group, who would only agree to be identified as the "Imperial Wizard," told ABC News.

The man was adamant that his real name not be used, in order to protect his job and family, he said.

"[Brooks is] coming out and calling the Klan a terrorist organization. Prove it in black and white that the U.S. government has labeled us a terrorist organization," the Imperial Wizard said. "Prove it. He needs to prove it. I challenge him."

The Imperial Wizard insisted that the Klan does not commit criminal acts and that "everybody has a past they want to forget about."

When asked if he maintained the beliefs of the KKK, notorious for violently condemning minorities and religious beliefs that conflict with their own, the Imperial Wizard said, "I'm a separatist. I'm not a racist. I believe in the separation of the races. It was originally printed in the Bible."

The Georgia Department of Transportation states on its website that, "Any civic-minded organization, business, individual, family, city, county, state, or federal agency is welcome to volunteer in the Georgia Adopt-A-Highway program."

If a group's application to adopt the one-mile stretch is approved, they get a sign on the side of the road saying they have adopted that stretch of highway and are required to do a litter collection at least once a year, according to the GDOT.

"The state of Georgia should absolutely reject this application from the KKK because the KKK does not fall into the category of a civil-minded organization," said Brooks, who is black. "They're not a garden club, Kiwanis or the League of Women Voters. They're a racist, terrorist, hate group."

The Imperial Wizard said that the KKK group had the "blessings" of the GDOT before controversy began to arise from the application.

When asked if the GDOT had in fact given the group their blessing, GDOT spokeswoman Jill Goldberg told ABC News, "No, it's not approved."

Goldberg said that a meeting to discuss the issue was held earlier today, but, "We don't have a decision on the resolution. It's still open at this time."

The case is similar to one in Missouri that resulted in a lengthy legal battle. When a KKK group tried to adopt a Missouri road, the state tried to ban the effort. The state eventually lost when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that membership into the "Adopt-a-Highway" program cannot be denied because of a group's political beliefs.

Brooks wants Georgia's story to end differently.

"I think the state of Georgia should send a loud, clear message that we are not going to allow the KKK to adopt our highways and byways," he said. "Say that firmly and then let the chips fall where they fall."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun082012

Officials Race Against the Clock as E. Coli Cases Rise

S. Lowry/Univ Ulster(WASHINGTON) -- As the number of E. coli cases climbs to 11 across four southern states, Georgia officials who say they're just beginning their investigation are now racing against the clock to solve these mysterious food poisonings before the epidemic spreads further.

"We know that these cases are all linked, and that would suggest that there was a common source somewhere along the way," J. Patrick O'Neal of the Georgia Department of Health told ABC News.  "We just don't know where."

The death of an infant in New Orleans last week has been linked to at least 10 other cases of E. coli illness in Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and Alabama.  The largest cluster of five sickened people, ranging in age from 18 to 52, is centered in Atlanta, home to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Maelan Elizabeth Graffagnini was 21 months old when she died last Thursday at a hospital in New Orleans. Two others in the New Orleans area were also recently stricken by the same strain of E. coli, known as 0145.

"The death of a young child is always difficult, and it serves as a reminder of how serious E. coli is," said Dr. Takeisha Davis of the Louisiana Health Department.

Alabama public health officials have linked two cases to this outbreak.  And in Florida, a 22-year-old woman's illness has been traced to the same dangerous bacterium.

Aside from the E. coli strain, all these cases have in common is that officials still have no idea what caused the illnesses.

"They are racing against the clock, they want to figure out what the product is, and get it out of the market before it sickens or kills anyone else," said Bill Marler, a food safety attorney.

Epidemiologists at the CDC's headquarters are poring over data sent in from the states in search of a common factor that could pinpoint a cause.

"The likely exposure is a food source," Louisiana Department of Health spokesman Tom Gasparoli said.  "But this has yet to be confirmed.  Often, the contact source is not found."

E. coli are a common bacteria and not every strain is dangerous.  But some, like those that carry the 0145 genetic fingerprint that is behind this outbreak, produce a deadly toxin known as shiga.  This poison can cause violent reactions, including severe kidney damage and death.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio