Friday, March 27, 2015

Jury recommends life in prison for Garrard

District Attorney Jimmie Harp

Joyce Garrard, the woman who was convicted of capital murder in the 2012 running death of her 9-year-old granddaughter, received a recommended sentence of life in prison without parole Thursday from a jury in Etowah County on Thursday.
Garrard's attorney Sam Bone released a statement regarding the conviction and jury's recommended sentence late Thursday.  Bone said Joyce Garrard has been wrongly convicted of capital murder. The consequences of this conviction will be far reaching and profound. Bone said This verdict will affect little league coaches, PE teachers, foremen at Goodyear, and others. Anytime someone is pushing another to better themselves, there will be a fear of being prosecuted. Bone said This is the first verdict in history where someone was convicted for capital murder for running. Bone said they will be appealing Garrards conviction. 
Jurors rejected prosecutors' pleas for a death sentence for Joyce Hardin Garrard Thursday.  The decision came on a split vote: seven for life, five for death. It also came on Garrard's 50th birthday. Members of her family cried in the courtroom after the sentence recommendation was announced.
Under Alabama law, a vote of at least 10 of 12 jurors was required for the panel to recommend death. A simple majority could recommend life. District attorney Jimmie Harp said he was pleased with the jury recommendation and will ask the judge to accept it.
The verdict is only a recomendation under Alabama law. Circuit Judge Billy Ogletree will make the final sentencing decision at a hearing May 11.

Anniston police investigate shots fired in Blue Mtn.

Anniston police are investigating an altercation that led to someone discharging a firearm Wednesday afternoon on Railroad Avenue in Blue Mountain.
Anniston police say there were no injuries from the shooting, which took place between 5:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. Wednesday. Two vehicles and a house were damaged by the shots. The incident is still under investigation
According to police reports, Anniston police arrested 34-year-old Otis Weatherly at 4 Railroad Ave. just before midnight Wednesday.
The reports show Weatherly was charged with receiving stolen property and carrying a pistol without a permit. Weatherly had a stolen 9-millimeter handgun and another handgun.
Separate reports were filed for reckless endangerment and three incidents of shots fired into cars and a building on Railroad Avenue.

Calhoun Commission approves Anniston Industrial Development Authority

The Calhoun County Commission helped Anniston clear a hurdle Thursday to bringing in new industrial business.
The commission approved the creation of the city’s planned Industrial Development Authority. Anniston leaders began talking publicly about creating the authority in early February, but Alabama law required the County commission’s permission before the board could be brought online. City manager Brian Johnson attended the commission’s meeting, and said afterward the Anniston City Council’s next move would be to fill the board.
Johnson said council members would need to begin considering who they will nominate to the board. Those nominations could happen as soon as the council’s April 6 meeting.
The city manager referred to the board as a financing mechanism, capable of offering property, loans or grants to businesses interested in expanding to Anniston.
It would also have the authority to abate certain fees and taxes.

Talladega murder trial set for monday

Jury selection is expected to begin Monday in the trial of a Lincoln man charged with two counts each of murder and manslaughter.
Police say that 66 year old Kenneth Rex Latham,  was the driver of a 2103 Ford Fusion that collided with a 2003 Ford Focus on Alabama 21 in Winterboro on March 1, 2013. 28 year old Silemon Santiago,  and 23 year old Areli Jacinto,  were in the front seat of the Focus, and were both pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.
Areli Jacinto was pregnant, according to information released at the time.
There were also four children, between the ages of 1 and 10, in the backseat. All four children were transported to Children’s of Alabama for treatment following the wreck.
Latham also went to the hospital and was treated for his injuries.
According to Assistant District Attorney Christina Kilgore, Latham is charged with murder and manslaughter for each of the Santiagos.
The murder charge alleges that he acted with “extreme indifference,” while the manslaughter charge alleges only that he acted recklessly. He can only be convicted on one charge or the other in each case, not both.
Kilgore added that she expected the evidence to show that Latham was not intoxicated at the time of the accident.
The accident was investigated by Alabama State Troopers.

Dekalb authorities seeking suspect who escaped on horseback

DeKalb County sheriff’s deputies are searching for two individuals, one of whom fled from authorities on horseback, according to a news release from Sheriff Jimmy Harris.
Harris said DeKalb 911 received a call Wednesday morning about a man riding a horse and a female on a four-wheeler leading a horse. The caller knew the two and said they didn’t own any horses.
When Deputy Jeff Bain located the subjects, they were on Alabama Highway 117 and Alabama Highway 40. A warrant check found that the man, 36 year old Joseph Santiago,  of Rainsville, had outstanding warrants for third-degree criminal trespassing and third-degree harassment. Bain attempted to arrest Santiago, but he fled on the horse, going off the side of Sand Mountain.
Neither Santiago nor the horse was injured, but both he and the woman got away. Harris said deputies know who the woman is, but her identification is not being released.

Santiago is 6-feet tall and weighs about 200 pounds. Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the sheriff’s office at 256-845-3801.

Bill to allow alcohol vote in St. Clair passes State Senate

Alabama lawmakers are considering a bill that proposes a constitutional amendment allowing voters to approve Sunday alcohol sales in st. clair county at the next election.
The would allow voters in St. Clair County's various municipalities as well as in the county's unincorporated area to hold special elections to decide if they want Sunday alcohol sales in their jurisdictions.
Sen. Jim McClendon sponsored the legislation along with Sen. Phil Williams co-sponsoring. McClendon said city leaders in St. Clair County expressed to him that they wanted the option to allow voters to decide the matter.
 McClendon said. He has received resolutions from the mayor and councils, including Ashville, Riverside, Pell City, Moody, Springville and Argo.
The bill would allow the municipalities as well as the unincorporated county to hold elections on the matter.  McClendon said it would be a two-step process once the bill passes. The first is the council would have to decide if they want to have a referendum. That would be their choice. And the second part would be ... the people that would be affected by it would have to approve it.

The bill passed the Senate last week and moved to the House for consideration.