Georgia News Roundup
May 21, 2013 04:30 PM | 1114 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Georgia police increase enforcement patrols for summer

ATLANTA (AP) — Police in Georgia are rolling out increased enforcement patrols as part of their summer safety campaign.

The 100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T. campaign is designed to reduce fatal crash counts from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The extra enforcement began Monday and runs through Sept. 2.

The Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic, or H.E.A.T., campaign targets the state's jurisdictions with the highest rates of crashes, injuries and deaths. It includes 22 counties and covers most of metro Atlanta.

The primary goals are to: reduce impaired driving crashes; reduce excessive speeding; increase seat belt usage; and educate the public about traffic safety.

The H.E.A.T. campaign coincides with the annual May kickoff of the Click-It-or-Ticket seat belt initiative that began Monday and runs through June 2.

Online: Georgia Highway Safety

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Girl, 8, wounded by stray bullet as she slept

ATLANTA (AP) — Authorities say an 8-year-old girl was hospitalized after she was shot by a stray bullet as she slept in her Atlanta home.

The shooting happened around 10:30 p.m. Monday at the Hollywood Shawnee Apartments on the city's northwest side.

Police say the child was asleep in her bed when a round from a high-powered weapon struck her in the leg. She was taken to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston in stable condition.

Police tell CBS Atlanta that they believe the shot came from outside the apartment in the parking lot, where people were arguing at the time.

Information from: WGCL-TV.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Off-duty Atlanta motorcycle officer hurt in crash

NORCROSS, Ga. (AP) — Authorities say an off-duty Atlanta motorcycle police officer was seriously hurt in a crash on Interstate 85 in the city's northeastern suburbs.

Gwinnett County police say the two-vehicle crash happened Monday night in the northbound lanes of the freeway near the Beaver Ruin Road exit.

Atlanta police Officer John Chafee tells The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (http://bit.ly/116Jels) that the officer was taken to Gwinnett Medical Center with serious injuries. Details on his condition weren't immediately known.

Police say the officer, whose name wasn't released, was riding his city-issued motorcycle at the time of the crash.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Doraville police officer's name is finally added to memorial

MONROE, Ga. (AP) — The name of a Doraville police officer killed while responding to a call has been added to a memorial to fallen officers after relatives questioned an earlier decision to exclude him from it.

Relatives of 27-year-old Robert Shane Wilson were preparing to attend the Public Safety Memorial ceremony in May 2012 when they learned his name would be left off. Officials said at the time that criteria for the memorial included being killed in the line of duty.

Doraville police said Wilson was the overnight on-call detective and was responding to a home invasion call when he was killed by a wrong-way driver in 2011.

Wilson's name was among eight added to Georgia's Public Safety Memorial wall in Monroe County Monday after a committee reconsidered the earlier decision, WSB-TV reported.

"I am very grateful to the committee, to the director of the committee, to the director of the Georgia Public Safety Training Center, and the governor's office for making this happen," Doraville Police Chief John King said.

The policy was also changed, WSB reported.

"A lot of red tape, I guess. But not just for us, but for other officers involved, too. So it kind of opened the doors for families," said Wilson's father, J.D. Wilson.

Information from: WSB-TV.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Muscogee County School Board approves school closings

COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) — A west Georgia school system has approved a package of cuts that includes closing an elementary school and a middle school.

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports that the Muscogee County School Board approved the plan with a unanimous vote Monday night.

The recommendation by interim Superintendent John Phillips includes closing Edgewood Elementary School and Marshall Middle School.

The Columbus newspaper reports that the decision could mean layoffs for as many as 40 teachers.

The cuts are designed to save $9.5 million as the school system tries to fill a projected $40 million budget deficit for next fiscal year.

Read more here.

Information from: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer,http://ledger-enquirer.com

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Tea party groups plan IRS protest in Atlanta

By Christina A. Cassidy, Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia tea party activists are protesting the targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service during a rally in Atlanta.

Tuesday's rally was one of several held across the country. In Cincinnati, tea party activists gathered outside the IRS office that handled group applications for tax-exempt status. IRS officials have acknowledged that some conservative groups received inappropriate attention and questioning.

In Atlanta, about 200 activists heard from several speakers including Gov. Nathan Deal, who said "you don't have anything to worry about on the state level" when it comes to taxes.

Debbie Dooley with Tea Party Patriots says the extra scrutiny cost her group at least $250,000 in legal fees. She says the IRS wanted the group's donor list, volunteer names, and copies of supporters' comments on Facebook.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Georgia's grad rate increases to 69.7 percent for 2012

By Christina A. Cassidy, Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — State education officials say Georgia's high school graduation rate has increased to 69.7 percent for the Class of 2012, up from 67.4 percent the year before.

It's the second year that Georgia's graduation rate has been calculated under a new federally mandated formula that makes it possible to compare states. It's still well below the 80 percent the state had under the old system.

State schools Superintendent John Barge says Georgia is moving in the right direction, although the rate "is still far too low and we have much progress to be made."

Officials say the new formula takes better account of dropouts by dividing the number of graduates in a given year by the number of students enrolled four years earlier.

Eight school systems posted graduation rates above 90 percent.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Andrea Sneiderman re-arraigned in husband's death 

By Kate Brumback, Associated Press

DECATUR, Ga. (AP) — A woman accused of arranging for her husband to be killed outside a suburban Atlanta preschool was arraigned for the third time Tuesday.

Andrea Sneiderman appeared before a DeKalb County Superior Court judge, and her attorney entered a not guilty plea on her behalf. She was being arraigned again after prosecutors filed a revised indictment. Jury selection in her trial is set to begin July 29.

Sneiderman is accused of arranging for her former boss, Hemy Neuman, to kill her husband, Rusty Sneiderman, outside a Dunwoody preschool in November 2010.

Neuman was arrested about six weeks after the killing and was charged with murder. A jury last year found him guilty but mentally ill.

Andrea Sneiderman has consistently denied any involvement in the death of her husband and has pleaded not guilty to the charges against her at previous arraignments.

She is accused of helping orchestrate her husband's death. She faces charges of felony murder and 15 other counts. She has been living under house arrest at her parents' home in suburban Atlanta since she was released on bond a few weeks after her arrest in August.

Prosecutors say Sneiderman lied to investigators on numerous occasions and didn't always tell the truth when she was testifying during Neuman's trial. They say she hid a romantic relationship between herself and Neuman, destroyed evidence of Neuman's guilt and lied when she found out that her husband had been shot.

Sneiderman has repeatedly denied being romantically involved with Neuman and has also denied the other allegations.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Gwinnett man pulled from ditch after retaining wall falls

BUFORD, Ga. (AP) — Gwinnett County fire rescue officials say a man has been pulled from a ditch after a retaining wall collapsed on him.

Authorities say the unidentified man was doing yard work Tuesday when he became pinned face-down against a foundation wall by a large piece of concrete and dirt.

Gwinnett Fire Rescue spokesman Tommy Rutledge says the man was alert and conscious while firefighters worked to remove him from the ditch.

The man was taken to a local hospital. Information on the extent of the man's injuries wasn't immediately available.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Bank worker accused of theft, fiscal exploitation

ATLANTA (AP) — Police say Wells Fargo personal banker is accused of stealing about $10,600 from an elderly customer's account.

Atlanta police spokeswoman Kim Jones says Daniel Araujo befriended a 90-year-old bank customer and asked her to sign what she thought was a transfer slip from her checking to savings account. Jones says the form was actually a withdrawal slip.

Jones says the case was investigated the by major fraud unit and Araujo surrendered to authorities Friday. He's charged with theft by taking and financial exploitation of an elderly person. Jones says police are looking into whether there may be additional victims because Araujo's bank records show more than $50,000 in recent cash deposits.

According to Fulton County jail records, Araujo is free on $30,000 bond. It's unclear if he has a lawyer.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Rapper Chief Keef arrested at hotel near Atlanta

DUNWOODY, Ga. (AP) — Police in suburban Atlanta say rapper Chief Keef, whose name is Keith Cozart, has been arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

Dunwoody police spokesman Timothy Fecht says officers arrested Cozart after responding to a call about illegal drug activity at the Le Méridien hotel just north of Atlanta Monday afternoon. Fecht says officers saw smoke and smelled marijuana wafting from a room.

It wasn't immediately clear what Cozart was doing in Georgia. Representatives at his booking agency said they didn't have contact info for an attorney for the 17-year-old Chicago native and didn't know much about the incident.

Cozart was arrested in January and spent about two months in juvenile detention for violating probation on a weapons conviction. He had received probation for pointing a gun at police in 2012.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Third suspect arrested in Atlanta carjacking

ATLANTA (AP) — Authorities say the third suspect in a carjacking from three weeks ago has been arrested in southwest Atlanta.

U.S. Marshals spokesman Gavin Duffy says Darius Demond McKenzie is accused in the May 1 carjacking and was arrested Tuesday morning.

Authorities have said the suspects would bump a car from behind, then rob and carjack the victim when they stepped out of the vehicle to look at the damage.

Duffy says two others have been arrested in connection with the carjacking.

According to Fulton County jail records, McKenzie is being held without bond on eight charges including aggravated assault and armed robbery. It's not clear if he has an attorney.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Sheriff's officials find 3 dead bodies in woods

HEPHZIBAH, Ga. (AP) — Authorities in Richmond County say three bodies have been recovered in a wooded area in Hephzibah.

Officials say the bodies of two unidentified black men and an unidentified black woman were found Tuesday. The causes and circumstances that lead to their deaths was not immediately clear, and information on how long the bodies may have been in the woods was not immediately available.

Authorities say they're asking for help from the public and probing missing persons reports from the last 30 days for information on the case.

Hephzibah is about 15 miles southwest of Augusta.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Deal weighs in on atheist materials being donated

ATLANTA (AP) — Gov. Nathan Deal says he believes in the right of atheist groups to donate literature for use in cabins and lodges in Georgia's state parks just as Bibles are allowed.

Deal said Tuesday "if somebody doesn't want to read the Gideon Bibles, they don't have to take it out of the drawer. If there is some atheist literature, they don't have to read it."

He added he wasn't sure of the response from visitors, saying "If they want to put it there, I can't guarantee its safety."

American Atheists says it plans to donate several books including "Why I Am An Atheist."

Park managers initially removed Bibles after receiving a citizen complaint. The state attorney general later advised it was OK since the Bibles weren't paid for by the state.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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