Monday, April 27, 2015

Etowah rescue worker killed in efforts to rescue missing kyaker


Vicky Ryan

A rescuer on a recovery mission on the Coosa River in Gadsden has died.
Vicky Ryan was pronounced dead just before 10:30 Saturday night at Riverview Regional Medical Center. Coroner Michael Head says the cause of her death is drowning.
Ryan is survived by her husband, fellow rescue squad member Houston, Ryan and a ten year old son.
Two Etowah County Rescue Squad boats capsized while they were searching for a possible drowning victim on Saturday.
About nine rescuers were pulled from the water. Several of them were taken to the Riverview Regional Medical Center.
Rescuers were searching for a kayaker believed to have capsized while attempting to go over an artificial waterfall near Brook Avenue on Saturday morning. The kayak was still floating in the area when rescuers arrived but the person never resurfaced.
Authorities initially responded with one boat but it capsized near the waterfall and the crew fell into the creek. A second boat responded to rescue the first crew but it too fell victim to the waterfall and capsized.
The kayaker was found dead in Big Wills Creek around 10:30 Sunday morning, some 200 yards from the kayak accident.  The kayaker has been identified as Dakota Brett Crandall, a 25 year-old who lived in Southside but was originally is from Utah.

Dekalb death investigation leads to arrest


Doug Minor

DeKalb County sheriff's deputies are investigating after a woman was found dead inside a home on Lookout Mountain early Saturday morning.
Authorities were called to a home on County Road 127 around 4 a.m. on a report of an unresponsive woman. Upon arriving, they found a female deceased inside the residence. The woman appeared to have died from blunt force trauma to the head.
The woman's body was transported to the Alabama Department of Forensic Science in Huntsville, where an autopsy will be performed to determine the exact cause of death.  According to the Dekalb County Sheriff's Office, deputies have found two people of interest in connection with the death investigation. However, deputies believe the woman may have been the victim of a kidnapping.
Dekalb County Sheriff Jimmy Harris says they located Doug Minor and Norma Grinnell Sunday morning near a chicken house in Cherokee County. Deputies say Grinnell asked them for help and water. She appeared battered and bruised.
Minor has been charged with 1st Degree Assault and Kidnapping until investigators can figure out exactly how the woman died. Police believe Grinell was a victim in the situation.

Piedmont man charged with Auto Theft



Cherokee County deputies arrested a fugitive in Calhoun County, after he led an officer on a chase in a stolen truck.
Chief Deputy Matthew Wade with the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office said a Cherokee County man awoke Friday morning to discover his truck was stolen. Later that morning, while driving down Alabama Route 9 in Calhoun County, he saw the thief driving his truck and called police.
What resulted was a two-minute chase, ending with a crash and the arrest of 29 year old Terry Proctor of Piedmont.
Wade said Proctor had warrants through Cherokee County, Piedmont and Calhoun County.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Sex abuse charges against Etowah County CEO headed to grand jury


Partrick Simms

Patrick Simms, chief administrative officer of the Etowah County Commission, waived a preliminary hearing Wednesday in Chambers County District Court and has been bound over to a grand jury on a charge of sexual abuse of a child under 12.
Simms was placed on indefinite administrative leave Feb. 13, and he surrendered to Chambers County authorities Feb. 19.
Simms is originally from Chambers County and still owns property there. At one time, he served as county manager for Chambers County.
According to a court filings, two Chambers County judges recused themselves from the case against Simms. Randolph County District Judge Clay Tinney bound the case over to the grand jury.
Chambers County Sheriff Sid Lockhart said that the alleged abuse was reported to authorities by the child's mother. She said the child was abused by Simms while driving in the county. He said the Feb. 8 incident is the only allegation of abuse made against Simms.
The child is not related to Simms, who through his attorney has denied the allegations.

Retrial of Kevin Andre Towles delayed


Kevin Andre Towles

There's a delay in an Etowah County capital murder re-trial and the judge is concerned that proposed budget cuts could affect it.
Kevin Andre Towles of Boaz was set to go on trial a second time starting May 4 in the 2006 beating death of his girlfriend's 5-year-old son, Geontae Glass.
But one of his attorneys, Dani Bone, came to court with a large cast on his left arm and shoulder, the result of rotator cuff surgery ten days ago.
While Bone said he could still do a lot of his legal work and his pain is manageable, he's under a doctor's care and is limited on the amount of driving he can do.
Both sets of attorneys were agreeable to try the case almost anytime, but Bone preferred February as a time for a retrial while prosecutor Marcus Reid pushed for an August date, citing other capital murder cases coming up in September, October, November, January and May.
Circuit Judge Allen Millican also favored the August date and tentatively set the trial for that month. Later, that date was pushed to November 16. 2015.
One of Millican's concerns was proposed state budget cuts that he said from the bench would "hit us hard," up to 1,500 positions in the state court system.
Millican said the cuts would leave the Etowah County Circuit Clerk's office with just Circuit Clerk Cassandra Johnson and two other deputy clerks and he doesn't see how the courthouse could function under those circumstances.
Towles was convicted of capital murder and sent to Alabama's death row in 2009 in the Geontae Glass murder. However, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the case and remanded it to Etowah County for retrial.
At issue was testimony from Towle's other son saying his father had also beaten him, too. The appeals court ruled the testimony should not have been admissible since Towles was never charged or convicted of that crime.
Towles' girlfriend, Shalinda Glass, pleaded guilty to murder in 2012 and was sentenced to life in prison without parole in the case.
Kevin Towles remains in the Etowah County Jail, having been brought back from state prison after his case was remanded.

Police Jurisdiction bill pases house



A statewide bill inspired by a dispute over the expansion of the city of Lincoln passed the Alabama House of Representatives in a 67-20 vote Thursday.
The bill, by Rep. Ron Johnson, R-Sylacauga, would end automatic expansion of cities’ police jurisdiction when they annex new territory.
City police forces typically patrol areas just outside city lines, known as the police jurisdiction. Residents of the police jurisdiction aren't considered city residents and don't vote in city elections, but they are typically taxed — at a lower rate than city residents — to pay for city services.
By state law, police jurisdiction automatically expands around a city as it annexes new territory, but that process became the subject of strong debate in Talladega County this year after Lincoln expanded its police jurisdiction.
Johnson said They're extracting money from the people who live in the area, but they're not capable of providing services there.
Years ago, Lincoln annexed some parcels that weren't contiguous to the city.
When the city's population grew past 6,000 residents, a state law kicked in that allowed the city to expand its jurisdiction to three miles beyond city limits; it had been 1.5 miles. 
Johnson said that expansion swelled Lincoln's jurisdiction to more than 100 square miles, making it roughly the size of the city of Atlanta. He Said Residents of the area are being taxed, but aren't receiving services.
Under Johnson's bill, an annexation done by state law would expand a city's police jurisdiction beyond city lines only if the bill itself specifies the area to be expanded.
Supporters of the bill said police jurisdiction expansions often amount to taxation without representation.
It’s not clear whether the bill would change the way cities deal with existing police jurisdictions, or whether it would affect the dispute in Lincoln, but Johnson has, in fact, proposed two local bills, affecting only Lincoln or Talladega County, that address the same situation. Both have already passed the House and are awaiting committee votes in the Senate,.
The House vote moves Johnson's statewide bill to the Senate for consideration as well.