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Entries in Georgia (76)

Wednesday
Nov022011

Four Georgia Men Charged in Terror Plot

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- Four senior citizens will appear in front of a federal judge in Georgia on Wednesday after telling undercover informants about plans to attack federal buildings with explosives and a biological toxin.

The men named in the charging documents, Frederick Thomas, 73, of Cleveland, Ga., and Toccoa, Ga., residents Dan Roberts, 67, Ray H. Adams, 65, and Samuel J. Crump, 68, were all members of a fringe militia organization, according to investigators.

They called themselves "the covert group," and met several times throughout the year to discuss killing federal employees with rifles, explosives, and the dangerous toxin ricin.

An undercover agent recorded several of the meetings, including one in April where Adams allegedly said, "The first ones that need to die is the ones in the government buildings."

By April, Thomas was reportedly telling one of the FBI's confidential informants about the illegal equipment they wanted to buy, providing a long list including firearms, silencers and explosives. And in May, he allegedly began surveying buildings in Atlanta, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the IRS, as potential targets, according to authorities. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct282011

Man Fire-Bombs Taco Bell for Meatier Chalupa

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(ALBANY, Ga.) -- A disgruntled customer apparently threw a Molotov cocktail outside the drive-through window of an Albany, Ga., Taco Bell after complaining that his two XXL Taco Bell Chalupas weren’t living up to their promise of having extra meat.

The man, whom police and Taco Bell employees were unable to identify because of poor-quality surveillance footage, called the Taco Bell around 4 a.m. demanding more meat for his chalupas, the police report stated.

When manager Cynthia Thompson told the customer she would be unable to accommodate his request because the restaurant was closing, she said he replied: “That’s alright, I’ll just come and redecorate the place.”

Shortly after, a gasoline odor was traced to just outside the drive-through window, where Thompson found a fire and a melting plastic bottle filled with liquid, which the Albany Fire Department identified as a Molotov cocktail.

Police have filed a request to subpoena the Taco Bell location’s phone records in an effort to identify the suspect. The restaurant does not have caller ID.

Taco Bell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It’s the second such incident in the past two months for the fast-food chain.

Jeremy Combs, 30, allegedly pulled a shotgun on a Taco Bell employee in Lee’s Summit, Mo., last month after his order lacked the hot sauce he requested.

Combs was arrested and faces up to 10 years in prison.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct242011

Police: National Guardsman Kills Deputy in Georgia, Then Self

John Foxx/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(AUGUSTA, Ga.) -- A National Guardsman who had been firing at passing cars on an Augusta, Ga., road early Sunday morning, killed a sheriff’s deputy before taking his own life, police said.

Christopher Michael Hodges, 26, appeared to be drunk and had been fighting with his girlfriend when he fired 35 rounds from an M4 semiautomatic rifle around 1 a.m. Sunday, killing Deputy James D. Paugh, 47, who was off duty but had stopped to investigate a suspicious car parked in a grassy area off Bobby Jones Expressway, Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength said in a statement.

“He pulled over his motorcycle and didn’t even get to put the kickstand down before the suspect began firing on him,” Strength said.

Paugh’s gun was fired twice, but police said Hodges killed himself with his own gun.

An official at Fort Gordon National Guard base said very little was known about Hodges.

“He’s been here several months,”  Fort Gordon public relations officer James Hudgins told ABC News.  “[He was] a member of the Tennessee National Guard.  He was assigned here as a trainee.  He had only been here a few months so that’s all we really know at this time.”

Hodges’ girlfriend was being held by police for questioning.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct192011

Georgia Mom Faces Charges Again in Son's Traffic Death

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(MARIETTA, Ga.) -- A Georgia mother whose son was killed in a tragic hit-and-run accident will once again face charges in his death.  

A Cobb County, Ga., state court judge has ruled that Raquel Nelson, 30, will stand trial on charges of vehicular homicide and criminal jaywalking in the death of her 4-year-old son, A.J. Newman.

Nelson was convicted of the charges in an earlier trial this year, and faced up to three years of jail time -- a longer sentence than the hit-and-run driver who killed her young son.

In July, State Court Judge Katherine Tanksley sentenced Nelson to probation instead of jail time, but the judge also offered her a deal.  Nelson could undergo a new trial, and if acquitted, her record would be cleared.  Nelson accepted the offer.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, earlier this month, Nelson’s attorney asked the judge to dismiss all charges against his client.  The judge did dismiss a charge of reckless conduct, but determined that Nelson would stand trial again on the other two charges.  The trial will begin on Oct. 25.

Nelson’s son was killed as she and her three children were attempting to cross a busy street, heading from a bus stop to their home across the road.  Nelson was charged with vehicular homicide because she was not crossing the street at the crosswalk in Marietta, Ga., at the time of the accident in April 2010.

A jury convicted Nelson, and there was an outpouring of support for the single mother as she headed back to court in July to learn whether she would be sentenced to jail time.  Tanksley sentenced her to 12 months probation and 40 hours of community service instead.

The driver of the car was given six months in jail for hitting Nelson, one of her daughters and her son last year, and then fleeing the scene.

Nelson was originally charged with reckless conduct, improperly crossing a roadway and second-degree homicide by vehicle.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct122011

Georgia County Considers Using Inmates as Firefighters

Photodisc/Thinkstock(WOODBINE, Ga.) -- A Georgia county looking to save some money is considering using inmates from a local prison to fill out its fire department ranks rather than hiring trained firefighters.

Camden County Administrator Steve Howard told ABC News Tuesday that the Board of Commissioners is looking at a proposal that would use inmates from a nearby prison for firefighting, though he noted that no official proposal had been made nor any vote taken.

The plan, according to the Florida Times Union, would include putting two inmates in each of three existing fire houses,  which could allegedly help save the town $500,000 in fire insurance costs by boosting the town’s fire coverage.  Howard declined to discuss the specifics of the proposal with ABC News.

Under the model used by neighboring Sumter County, the inmates would not be guarded by prison staff while at the firehouse, but instead would be overseen by fire department supervisors who would receive “correctional training.”

The inmates chosen to be part of the program would be low-level criminals, according to the report, with convictions for robbery, theft, or drug charges.  They will be available during all shifts to help fight fires, unlike paid firefighters, who are given time off after working 24-hour shifts, the report said.

As a result, the county could save on the typical costs of about $6,000 to train a firefighter, $2,000 to outfit him, and about $40,000 to pay his salary and benefits.  Camden County’s public safety director said it would cost $10,000 to $15,000 to feed and outfit each inmate, install security measures such as surveillance systems, and provide correctional training for traditional firefighters, the newspaper reported.

The inmates in question have professed support of the plan, according to one commissioner.

“I’ve been told these inmates are very enthusiastic about being a firefighter,” Commissioner Jimmy Starline told the paper.  “It’s an opportunity to break that cycle.  This is not like a chain gang.  Life at a fire station could be a whole lot more pleasant than life in jail.”

But the firefighters are not as happy.  Stuart Sullivan objected to the commission’s plan, telling them it would tarnish the department.

“If you vote to bring these inmates into our working environment, you jeopardize not only the employees’ well-being, but the safety of our citizens,” he said.

Mark Treglio, a spokesman for the National Association of Firefighters, said the proposal could compromise the safety of firefighters, the trust between the department and the community it serves, and the privacy and safety of homeowners.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct072011

Alleged Purse Thief Posts Photo of Himself to Victim’s Facebook

HCPD/NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- A Georgia woman whose purse and cellphone were stolen from her car was surprised when a picture of the suspect showed up on her Facebook page.

The picture depicted a man with braids and gold teeth, exactly like the one she’d seen near her vehicle before the theft.

Police in Henry County, Ga., say they now believe the thief grabbed her cellphone, took a picture of himself and unwittingly uploaded it to her Facebook page, which automatically synced with her phone.

“What we believe occurred is that this person, who potentially stole the phone, was attempting to place a photo of himself on his Facebook page, but the phone was set up to upload to hers. We don’t know for sure, but he meets the description [of the suspect],” Maj. Jason Bolton of the Henry County police said.

The woman was picking her son up from a day care center Sept. 26 when the crime occurred, he said. She parked her car and, despite noticing a black Toyota Rav 4 nearby with someone in the vehicle, went into the day care center and left her car unlocked. When she returned with the child and drove home, she realized her purse was missing. Inside the purse were credit cards, a checkbook and the phone, he said.

The next day, a friend of the woman called her and told her to check her Facebook page because there was a “strange man’s picture” on it. The woman pulled up the website on her computer, saw the picture and called the police.

“We’ve used Facebook in the past to solve some cases, or help get warrants, but never have we seen a case like this where the potential suspect provided his own picture to us to use in the investigation,” Bolton said.

The picture has been disseminated widely and police hope someone will point them in the right direction.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep232011

Troy Davis' Sister Recounts Last Moments with Executed Brother

ERIK S. LESSER/AFP/Getty Images(SAVANNAH, Ga.) -- The sister of Troy Davis, the Georgia man executed Wednesday night, said her brother was calm and treated his last moments with his family like any doting uncle would: he watched his 3-year-old niece's latest ballet moves.

"Our last moments were joyous.  My brother was giving us charge as to what he wanted us to do, telling us to hold our heads up, telling my nephew to continue to be all that he could be... My niece was showing him her ballet shoes and telling him to stand on his tippy toes like a ballerina," said Kimberly Davis from her Savannah, Ga., home.

Davis' family last saw him between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Wednesday when there was still hope that his execution might be stopped.  The execution was postponed briefly by the Supreme Court for a legal review, but at 11:08 p.m., Davis, 42, was dead from lethal injection.

"When we left my brother yesterday, my brother told us to hold our heads up and be strong because if the state of Georgia did succeed in executing him, they would only take his physical body and not his soul," she said Thursday, crying at times.  "My brother said he only wanted to be a free man and right now, he is free."

Davis was convicted of the 1989 murder of police officer Mark MacPhail and sentenced to the death penalty.  Members of the MacPhail family are convinced Davis was guilty, but many other observers are not.

Before being executed, Davis said, "I'd like to address the MacPhail family.  Let you know, despite the situation you are in, I'm not the one who personally killed your son, your father, your brother.  I am innocent."

Witnesses said Davis' eyes fluttered as he received his first injection and lost consciousness, and that the entire process of lethal injection lasted about 15 minutes.

Following Davis' death, the Twitter and Facebook world buzzed with the lyrics of "Strange Fruit," the poem sung by Billie Holiday about the lynching of black men in the South.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep222011

Troy Davis Pleaded Innocence before Execution

ERIK S. LESSER/AFP/Getty Images(JACKSON, Ga.) -- Troy Davis was executed Wednesday evening for the murder of an off-duty policeman after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a last-minute stay of execution amid widespread public doubts about his guilt.

Davis, 42, died at 11:08 p.m. ET, according to a Georgia Department of Corrections official.  His death by lethal injection came after an approximately four-hour delay for legal review.

Eyewitnesses described the mood in the execution chamber as "somber" as Davis was wheeled in strapped to a gurney.  He declared his innocence a final time in the 1989 murder as witnesses and relatives of the victim -- off-duty Savannah, Ga., policeman Mark MacPhail -- looked on.

"The incident that happened that night is not my fault.  I did not have a gun," Davis said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"I did not personally kill your son, father and brother.  I am innocent," he continued.

"For those about to take my life, may God have mercy on your souls, may God bless your souls," Davis said.

Witnesses said Davis' eyes fluttered as he received his first injection and lost consciousness, and that the entire process of lethal injection lasted about 15 minutes.

"Justice has been served for Officer Mark MacPhail and his family," state Attorney General Sam Olens said in a statement.

Members of the MacPhail family are convinced Davis was guilty, but many other observers are not.

Davis had his execution stayed four times over the course of his 22 years on death row, but multiple legal appeals during that time failed to prove his innocence.

Public support grew for Davis based on the recanted testimony of seven witnesses from his trial and the possible confession of another suspect, which his defense team claimed cast too much doubt on Davis' guilt to follow through with an execution.

A growing tide of celebrities, politicians and social media users called for the execution to be delayed because of "too much doubt" present in his case.

Up to and beyond the moments of execution, the criticism continued.  "Strange Fruit," a classic song about lynching, trended on Twitter, celebrities tweeted their disapproval and, after it was over, an Amnesty International official released a written statement condemning the execution.

"Killing a man under this enormous cloud of doubt is horrific and amounts to a catastrophic failure of the justice system," said Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International AIUSA.  "Our hearts are heavy, but we have not lost our spirit of defiance.  Millions of people around the world now know of Troy Davis and see the fallibility of the U.S. justice system."

The execution was delayed more than four hours as the U.S. Supreme Court weighed last-minute arguments from Davis' legal team and the state of Georgia over whether his execution should be blocked.  The court's decision to deny the stay came without comment after 10 p.m. ET.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep212011

Troy Davis Executed After Stay Is Denied by Supreme Court

ERIK S. LESSER/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Supreme Court denied a last-minute stay of execution for Troy Davis after a delay to weigh arguments from Davis' legal team and the state of Georgia over whether his execution should be blocked.

The court's decision to deny the stay came without comment after 10 p.m. ET, more than three hours after Davis' execution originally was scheduled Wednesday.

The execution took place Wednesday at 11:08 p.m. ET.

At 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, five minutes after his scheduled death, Davis' supporters erupted in cheers, hugs and tears outside the jail in Jackson, Ga., as supporters believed Davis had been saved from the death penalty. But the Supreme Court only granted a temporary reprieve as it considered the decision.

Davis was convicted of the 1989 murder of Savannah cop Mark MacPhail, and had his execution stayed four times over the course of his 22-year stay on death row, but multiple legal appeals during that time failed to prove his innocence.

Public support grew for Davis based on the recanted testimony of seven witnesses from his trial and the possible confession of another suspect, which his defense team claimed casted too much doubt on Davis' guilt to follow through with an execution.

Davis spent 22 years on death row and in recent years support for his plea of innocence has grown as several witnesses recanted their testimony that he fired the shot that killed MacPhail.

A tide of celebrities, politicians, and social media users called for the execution to be delayed because of "too much doubt" present in his case.

At a protest in front of the White House Wednesday at least 12 Howard University students were arrested for failing to move off the White House sidewalk, according to ABC News affiliate WJLA.

A flurry of messages on Twitter using the hashtags #TroyDavis and #TooMuchDoubt showed thousands of supporters of Davis were intent on flooding the Jackson Distirct Attorney's office, Georgia Judge Penny Freezeman's office, and the U.S. Attorney General's office with phone calls and emails to beg for a stay on the execution.

Some users accused Twitter of blocking the topic from trending on Tuesday, though a representative from Twitter told ABC News there was no such action taken. The hashtags were trending Wednesday in cities around the U.S. as well as Germany, the UK, Sweden, and France. Many Tweets called the case a symbol of a return to Jim Crow laws and racial inequalities in the justice system.

The NAACP and the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson held a news conference Wednesday calling for the execution to be halted.

Others who have voiced support for Davis include former president Jimmy Carter, the pope and a former FBI director.

Davis's execution had been stayed four times for appeals since his conviction in 1989, and the Supreme Court gave him a rare chance to prove his innocence last year, but rejected his plea.

A Georgia board of pardons and paroles rejected Davis's plea for clemency on Tuesday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug302011

Thieves Crash into Georgia Store, Make Off with Hair Extensions

Stephen Mallon/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- Forget robbing the bank. These days, the big money is in beauty salons and their stash of human hair extensions.

The most recent heist occurred Tuesday when thieves crashed a Jeep into Angie's Beauty Supplies in Atlanta. Video showed the culprits head straight for the shop’s most expensive fake tresses.

“The suspects took an undetermined amount of hair extensions and other items prior to leaving the store,” said Atlanta Police Officer Kim Jones. The thieves left the Jeep in the store.

“The suspects left the scene in a dark colored minivan,” Jones said.

This is the second time in four months that Angie's has been the victim of a smash and grab for hair extensions.

Atlanta police say they’ve seen a rise in robberies at hair salons and beauty supply shops. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that last week that thieves stole $50,000 in hair extensions from another beauty supply store.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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