Friday, December 19, 2014

Rainbow City Nativity display to remain

The city of Rainbow City says The Nativity scene that has been displayed for years at the Rainbow City Municipal Building is legal and will remain up according to City Attorney Jim Turnbach.
The city received  a letter via email Tuesday from the Freedom From Religion Foundation in Madison, Wis. The organization opposes such Christmas displays on public property, and told Rainbow City it is illegal, based on a Supreme Court ruling, for a city to have a holiday display consisting solely of a Nativity scene, singling out and showing preference for one religion over others.
The display was taken down briefly Thursday morning by city workers, but was put back up.
Rainbow City Mayor Terry John Calhoun has declined comment and directed questions to Turnbach.
Turnbach said he has made a “cursory review” of the foundation’s letter.
Turnbach said that While the Freedom From Religion Foundation states correctly law applicable to religious displays, they are incorrectly applying those cases to the situation in Rainbow City. He said Rainbow City does not believe that the Christmas display on city property is in violation of any case law.
In the letter to Rainbow City, foundation attorney Andrew Seidel asked that it do as other cities have done, and remove the scene from government land and auction or donate it.
The letter requested a response in writing for steps the city would be taking, so the organization can notify the local resident who contacted them about the Nativity scene.
The foundation has sued or asked a number of governments to take down Christian-themed decorations.  Turnbach said he would respond to the foundation and didn’t anticipate his response being anything other than calling its claim a “misapplication of case law to Rainbow City.”
Turnbach said he wants to be through with his research before making a response, and the display will stay up while he completes that research. He said that could be as early as next week, and he plans to respond before Christmas.

FBI investigating case of DeKalb County Corrections Supervisor in extortion case

The FBI is investigating the case against
A DeKalb County Corrections supervisor charged with extortion and promoting prison contraband.
44 year old Brian Scott Crowe, of Fort Payne, was arrested after he allegedly extorted money from an inmate and used his position to bring contraband into the detention center.
Sheriff Jimmy Harris in a news release said Crowe’s arrest has led to an FBI investigation into the circumstances of the case. He said agents will continue the investigation and present their findings to the U.S. attorney for possible federal charges.
Crowe was released Monday from the DeKalb County Detention Center after posting a $5,000 bond. He served as a jail sergeant and was a longtime employee.
He has been charged with first-degree extortion and third-degree promotion of prison contraband

Accident Victims Identified

The two women who died in a single-vehicle crash Wednesday have been identified. They were 21 year old Ashley Michelle Reeves,  of Childersburg, and 35 year old  Nancy Nichols,  of Sylacauga.
Nichols, the front seat passenger, was not using a seat belt.
The two died when their 1995 Toyota Camry left the road, overturned and struck a tree on Santa Rosa Lane, two miles south of Sylacauga. Talladega County coroner Shaddix Murphy pronounced the two dead at the scene at 3:05 p.m. He said the cause was blunt force trauma
Another unidentified occupant of the car was injured and airlifted to UAB Hospital in Birmingham. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is continuing to investigate the accident.

Interim Athletic Director named at JSU

Greg Seitz

Jacksonville State University Senior Associate Athletic Director Greg Seitz was named Thursday afternoon as  interim athletic director at Jacksonville State University.
JSU President Dr. William A. Meehan says Seitz will serve in the position until the university's new president hires someone to replace Warren Koegel, who announced his resignation and retirement plans Oct. 22 after spending the last three-plus years as the Gamecocks' athletic director.
Seitz previously has served as interim athletic director twice over the last four years.
In not naming a permanent replacement for Koegel, Meehan noted the new president would make the decision when he or she is selected and takes over in the summer.

Seitz became JSU's sports information director in 1999, and was promoted to associate athletic director in 2002, before stepping into the senior associate AD position in 2011.

Seitz also handles game day operations for football, basketball and baseball.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Appeals Court denies motion to dismiss murder charges against Garrard

Joyce Hardin Garrard

The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals has denied a motion filed by Joyce Hardin Garrard’s defense lawyers asking that the charge against her be dismissed because she’s been denied a speedy trial.
Garrard is charged  in the 2012 death of her 9-year-old granddaughter, Savannah Hardin. The child collapsed, the state says, after Garrard made her run for hours because she had lied about eating candy. Savannah died three days later.  Garrard has been jailed since her arrest in March 2012. Her trial originally was set for June, but was continued to September.
In May, Garrard’s lawyers moved for a speedy trial. The case again was continued until February 2015.
In September, Garrard’s lawyers asked the judge to dismiss the charge against her because she had not yet come to trial. Judge William Ogletree denied the motion, and her lawyers filed a petition for a writ of mandamus.
In its order, the Court of Criminal Appeals states that it examined the factors set out in a 1982 case to establish that a defendant has been denied a speedy trial. The court looked at the length of the delay; the reason for the delay; the accused’s assertion of the right to a speedy trial; and the degree of prejudice suffered by the accused because of the delay.
In this case, 33 months had passed between Garrard’s arrest and the filing of the petition. The order states that time is “presumptively prejudicial.”
Garrard’s trial remains scheduled for February.

Body in Jefferson County positively identified as missing Calhoun County man

Roy Gene Pelfrey

The Jefferson County Coroners office said W
ednesday that Skeletal remains found in a wooded area in Irondale have been positively identified as a 43-year-old Calhoun County man missing since June.
The remains of Roy Gene Pelfrey were found on Dec. 9. Pelfrey had last been since in June of 2014. He was involved in a traffic accident in Talladega County and was flown to UAB Hospital for treatment, where he was treated and released.
His family reported him missing in June. Irondale police say they do not believe a crime was committed and do not believe Pelfrey was a victim of a crime.

The cause of death has not yet been determined.