Friday, February 23, 2018

CONVICTION IN A GRIFFIN INCEST TRIAL-D.A. COKER REPORTS

BENJAMIN D. COKER
DISTRICT ATTORNEY
Griffin Judicial Circuit

2/23/2018

PRESS RELEASE

This week, Chief Assistant District Attorney Marie Broder and Assistant District Attorney Kathryn Lenhard with the Spalding County District Attorney’s Office tried the case of the State of Georgia vs. Steven Keith Spires in front of the Honorable W. Fletcher Sams and a Spalding County jury. The jury convicted Spires of Aggravated Child Molestation, Incest, 2 counts of Sexual Exploitation of Children, 3 counts of Child Molestation, Sodomy, and Statutory Rape. Judge Sams sentenced the defendant to Life in prison plus 120 years followed by 10 years on probation. Spires was convicted of engaging in sexual intercourse and other acts with his 12-year-old biological daughter over the course of 2 years. The defendant also filmed two of the interactions with his daughter. This evidence was presented to the jury.
The victim testified along with members of law enforcement, including the lead investigator, Carrie Williams-James, with the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office. Also presenting testimony to the jury were members of the Southern Crescent Sexual Assault and Child Advocacy Center, Dr. Angela Guidry, and two, now adult, prior victims of the defendant.
Chief Assistant Marie Broder said: “This case was difficult and emotional for all parties. Kate and I could not have done this without the support and work of a very dedicated team with our office, law enforcement, and Southern Crescent. The bravery shown by the victim and the two other women who took the stand and testified, is inspiring. I am so proud of them and everyone who worked diligently to bring about a just result. Let the sentence be a message to those who prey upon the most vulnerable in our society. We will continue to fight to bring justice for those victims in our community.”
District Attorney Coker stated, “I’m extremely proud of the work that Chief Assistant Marie Broder and ADA Kathryn Lenhard put into this case. I am also proud of law enforcement, members of the Southern Crescent team, and everyone else who testified throughout this week. This was an emotionally draining case for all parties involved, but my team worked tirelessly to ensure that a sexual predator will never victimize another child.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

PLANNING COMMISSION NEEDS MORE TIME ON CHICKEN HOUSES

THE CHAIRMAN OF THE UPSON COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION PAUL JONES SAYS IT WILL TAKE MORE DISCUSSION BEFORE A NEW PROPOSED CHICKEN HOUSE ORDIANCE IS READY TO BE PRESENTED TO THE UPSON COUNTY COMMISSIONERS.


AT THE FEBRUARY MEETING, THE BOARD HEARD FROM POULTRY HOUSE BUSINESSMAN BILL THOMPSON AND JULIE WEATHERFORD WHO OPPOSED HOUSES ON REST HAVEN ROAD, THAT THOMPSON LATER MOVED TO ANOTHER LOCATION.

THREATS HAVE TWO STUDENTS IN TROUBLE TU SCHOOLS

AN ALLEGED THREAT AT UL HIGH CAUSED PANIC AND DISRUPTION IN THE THOMASTON-UPSON SCHOOL SYSTEM AND THE COMMUNITY—ON WEDNESDAY—BUT IT WAS APPARENTLY JUST AN INTERNET HOAK.

SHERIFF DAN KILGORE TOLD ZOOM NEWS— AN INVESTIGATION UNDERCOVERED THERE WAS NO THREAT JUST SOME UNTRUTHS POSTED ON SOCIAL MEDIA.

TWO OTHER INCIDENTS FOLLOWED THAT SOCIAL MEDIA EVENT AND GOT TWO STUDENTS IN TROUBLE AT THE HIGH SCHOOL AND MIDDLE SCHOOL.

SCHOOL SYSTEM SPOKESPERSON KAREN TRUESDALE SAID A HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT WAS SUSPENDED AND SHERIFF KILGORE SAID HE WAS ALSO CHARGED WITH DISRUPTION OF A PUBLIC SCHOOL—AFTER HE STOOD-UP IN CLASS AND YELLED OUT—HE'S GOT A GUN—BUT NO WEAPON WAS FOUND.

A MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENT WAS TURNED OVER TO HIS PARENTS AND HIS CASE SENT TO JUVENILE COURT—AFTER HE REPORTEDLY SAID SOMETHING TO THE EFFECT—THERE'S GOING TO BE ANOTHER SCHOOL SHOOTING—AND IT WILL BE IN THIS SCHOOL—AND I WILL BE THE SHOOTER.


SHERIFF KILGORE SAID IT BEARS REPEATING OVER AND OVER—IF YOU SEE OR HEAR SOMETHING—DON'T POST IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA—CALL 911 SO LAW ENFORCEMENT CAN INVESTIGATE.  

SCHOOL THREAT AN INTERNET HOAX

UPSON COUNTY SHERIFF DAN KILGORE SAID HIS OFFICE CONCLUDED AN INVESTIGATION INTO ALLEGED THREATS BY A WHITE MALE STUDENT AT UL HIGH WEDNESDAY AND FOUND THE THREATS WERE BASELESS.

THE STUDENT WAS INTERVIEWED ALONG WITH 15 CLASSMATES AND NO ONE COULD CONFIRM ANYTHING WAS SAID BY THE STUDENT WHO WAS CALLED-OUT BY NAME ON SOCIAL MEDIA AS MAKING THEATS.

THE SHERIFF SAID THERE WERE TWO OTHER INCIDENTS WEDNESDAY AND A 17 YEAR OLD HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT WILL BE CHARGED WITH DISRUPTION OF A PUBLIC SCHOOL FOR MENTIONING A GUN IN SOME CONTEXT.

ANOTHER MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENT MADE SOME COMMENTS THAT GOT HIM IN TROUBLE.

SHERIFF KILGORE WARNS THE PUBLIC TO AVOID SOCIAL MEDIA POSTINGS THAT ARE NOT TRUE. HE SAID THE POSTINGS WEDNESDAY CAUSED A PANIC AND DISRUPTION IN THE SCHOOL SYSTEM AND COMMUNITY.

THE SHERIFF URGED PARENTS TO SPEAK WITH THEIR CHILDREN ABOUT MAKING COMMENTS THAT COULD GET THEM IN TROUBLE WITH THE SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION AND LAW ENFORCEMENT. IF YOU SEE OR HEAR SOMETHING—CONTACT SCHOOL OFFICIALS AND CALL 911 TO GET LAW OFFICERS INVOLVED. DO NOT POST ANYTHING ON SOCIAL MEDIA THAT COULD BE RUMOR OR FALSEHOOD—AS HAPPENED WEDNESDAY—THE SHERIFF CONCLUDED.



Wednesday, February 14, 2018

TU NEW SCHOOL SUPERINTENDANT SEARCH

The Thomaston-Upson Board of Education continues to work on selecting a new superintendent of schools. Planning for the search began in December, as Dr. Maggie Shook is retiring at the end of the 2017-18 school year. The Board asked King-Cooper and Associates, a superintendent search firm, to serve as consultants for the search. The position was advertised with an application deadline of February 2, 2018, and information about the search and the application process was available on the school system website. The Board also conducted an online survey that was completed by over 460 community members and school district staff.

On Monday, February 19, the Board will review applications and begin planning the interview process. The first round of interviews will begin in early March and continue for several weeks. The Board will select a small number of candidates for a second round of interviews.

The Board received thirty-seven applicants for the position. Twenty-six have a doctorate, and all met the requirement of having a minimum of the six-year leadership certificate. Nine of the applicants are superintendents or have superintendent experience. Also in the applicant pool are twelve assistant superintendents or system directors, twelve principals, and four individuals in other education-related positions. Twenty-eight of the applicants are from Georgia school systems.

Board Chairperson Mr. Keith Rohling stated, “We are very pleased with the number of applicants. This is a critical decision, and the Board is committed to selecting another excellent leader for our school system.”

PLANNING BOARD GREEN LIGHTS SPECIAL EVENTS VENUE

HALF A DOZEN NEIGHBORS OPPOSED TO A SPECIAL EXCEPTION REQUEST BY STEVE HARPER AT 577 ROLAND ROAD FOR A SPECIAL EVENT VENUE—HAD THEIR SAY MONDAY—BUT THE UPSON COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION VOTED UNANIMOUSLY TO RECOMMEND APPROVAL TO THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS—WITH SEVERAL CONDITIONS.

HARPER TOLD THE BOARD RUMORS OF ROCK CONCERTS AND MOTORCROSS EVENTS WERE UNTRUE—HE PROPOSES WEDDINGS, BIRTHDAYS, FAMILY AND CLASS REUNIONS AT HIS NEW PAVILION.

ANNE CAROL DANIEL—CHARGED TRAFFIC CONGESTION WILL BE A PROBLEM—IT SHOULD BE ON A STATE ROUTE NOT A COUNTY ROAD. SHE CLAIMED IT WILL COST COUNTY TAXPAYERS BECAUSE IT WILL DECREASE PROPERTY VALUES. SHE TOLD THE BOARD SHE HAD A 90-NAME PETITION AGAINST IT.

EX-COUNTY COMMISSIONER STEVE HUDSON—A NEIGHBOR TO THE SITE—SAID HE SUPPORTS IT.


PLANNING COMMISSION CONDITIONS—A CAP OF 500 PATRONS, MUSIC STOPS AT 10PM—NO ROCK CONCERTS OR MOTORCROSS EVENTS AND SUCH—AND A PLEDGE FROM HARPER TO BUILD RESTROOMS IF THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS GIVE FINAL APPROVAL NEXT MONTH.  

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

UPSON COUNTY HIRES NEW CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER

UPSON COUNTY COMMISSION CHAIRMAN NORMAN ALLEN HAS ANNOUNCED THE HIRING OF A NEW CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER---JEREMY BLOUNT—A FORMER SGT. WITH THE THOMASTON POLICE DEPARTMENT-- JEREMY'S -REPLACING SUSAN MORRIS WHO RETIRED LAST YEAR.

Friday, February 9, 2018

LOCUS GROVE POLICE OFFICER SHOT AND KILLED

ACCORDING TO THE GBI---A CITY OF LOCUS GROVE POLICE OFFICER WAS SHOT AND KILLED AND TWO HENRY COUNTY DEPUTIES WERE WOUNDED WHEN THEY WENT TO SERVE A CRIMINAL WARRANT FOR FAILURE TO APPEAR AROUND 11AM ON ST. FRANCIS COURT IN THE LINDEN PARK SUBDIVISION—LOCUS GROVE—FRIDAY AROUND 11AM.

ONE OF THE WOUNDED OFFICERS SHOT AND KILLED THE SUSPECT.

THE GBI SAID THE SLAIN OFFICER WAS 26 YEAR OLD CHASE MADDOX A 5 YEAR VETERAN OF THE P.D. -- MARRIED AND EXPECTING HIS 2ND CHILD ANY DAY NOW. OFFICER MADDOX DIED AT ATLANTA MEDICAL CENTER.

ONE OF THE WOUNDED DEPUTIES IDENTIFIED AS 49-YEAR OLD MICHAEL CORLEY—BROTHER OF PASTOR WADE CORLEY OF MT. ZION UNITED METHODIST CHURCH IN GRIFFIN. AT THE HOSITAL PASTOR CORLEY SAID A BULLET WENT THROUGH HIS BROTHER'S VEST AND CAUGHT HIM IN THE LUNGS. DEPUTY CORLEY HAS TWO SONS AGES 14 AND 11.

THE SNELLVILLE POLICE CHIEF SAID ONE OF THE DEPUTIES SHOT IS THE FATHER OF ONE OF HIS OFFICERS.

THE SUSPECT HAS NOT BEEN IDENTIFIED.



HENRY COUNTY SHERIFF KEITH MCBRAYER SAID THE TWO DEPUTIES WENT TO SERVE THE WARRANT ON THE MAN—AND AFTER SPEAKING WITH HIM—IT APPEARED HE WAS GOING TO GIVE TROUBLE—SO THEY CONTACTED LOCUS GROVE P.D. FOR BACK-UP AND OFFICER MADDOX WAS DISPATCHED.



Thursday, February 8, 2018

CHARGES DROPPED AGAINST RICKERSON IN PIKE CO.

GRIFFIN JUDICIAL CIRCUIT DISTRICT ATTORNEY BEN COKER HAS DISMISSED THE MISDEMEANOR CHARGE AGAINST RETIRED GRIFFIN FIRE FIGHTER RICK RICKERSON—STEMMING FROM AN ACCIDENT SCENE IN PIKE COUNTY IN OCTOBER 2017. THE D.A. TOLD US THURSDAY THERE WAS SIMPLY NOT ENOUGH EVIDENCE TO GET A CONVICTION IN THE CASE.

CORPORAL JETER OF THE GA. STATE PATROL FILED CHARGES OF OBSTRUCTION OF AN OFFICER AGAINST RICKERSON AFTER HIS REPORT SAID RICKERSON REFUSED TO MOVE HIS VEHICLE TO MAKE WAY FOR EMERGENCY TRAFFIC.

WITNESSES PRAISED RICKERSON FOR RENDERING AID TO AN ACCIDENT VICTIM AND CONTINUED A CAMPAIGN ON SOCIAL MEDIA IN SUPPORT OF HIS ACTIONS.

D.A. COKER TOLD ZOOM NEWS —TENSIONS, EMOTIONS, AND ADRENALINE RAN HIGH AT THAT WRECK SCENE—AND ESCALATED ON THE PART OF RICKERSON AND CORPORAL JETER TO A POINT WHERE RICKERSON WAS ARRESTED.

ACCORDING TO PROSECUTOR COKER—HIS OFFICE HAD NOT LOOKED INTO THE CASE UNTIL ABOUT A WEEK AGO—BUT HAD RECEIVED NUMEROUS CALLS FROM CITIZENS ABOUT RICKERSON'S ARREST .





UPSON SCHOOL BUS INVOLVED IN ACCIDENT

A MAN WHO RAMMED A UTILITY POLE AT 19 NORTH AND STAGECOACH ROAD LATE WEDNESDAY AND TOOK A BUSH BOND TO THE WOODS—IS STILL AT LARGE—ACCORDING TO UPSON COUNTY SHERIFF DAN KILGORE.

A PASSENGER IN THE CAR WAS DETAINED AT THE SCENE BY DEPUTIES—AND THE SHERIFF SAID HIS OFFICE HAS AN IDEA OF THE DRIVERS I.D.

AN UPSON COUNTY SCHOOL BUS INVOLVED IN THE WRECK HAD SOME FRONT END DAMAGE WHEN A GUY WIRE FROM THE POLE FELL ACROSS IT—BUT NO STUDENTS WERE INJURED.


THE S.O. TURNED THE WRECK INVESTIGATION OVER TO THE GSP

UPSONIANS AT THE STATE CAPITAL

STATE REPRESENTATIVE JOHNNY CALDWELL SAYS DR. REX KING-PASTOR OF MOUNTAIN VIEW BAPTIST CHURCH IN THOMASTON HAS BEEN INVITED TO THE STATE CAPITAL ON TUESDAY FEB. 20TH TO GIVE A DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYER.


HOUSE MEMBER CALDWELL HAS FILED AN INVITE RESOLUTION FOR THE U L RUNNING KNIGHTS BASKETBALL TEAM TO BE RECOGNIZED UNDER THE GOLD DOME ON MARCH 14TH AND REPRESENTATIVE CALDWELL AND COACH DARRELL LOCKHART WILL ADDRESS THE GA. HOUSE.   

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

THOMASTON CITY COUNCIL REJECTS BID FOR TRIANGLE PROPERTY

THE THOMASTON CITY COUNCIL FOLLOWED A RECOMMENDATION FROM CITY MANAGER RUSSELL THOMPSON AND REJECTED A BID FROM AN ATLANTA DEVELOPER TO PURCHASE THE TRIANGLE OF PROPERTY IN SILVERTOWN FOR HALF A MILLION DOLLARS, TUESDAY NIGHT.


BEFORE A STANDING-ROOM-ONLY CROWD---THE CITY MANAGER SAID THE BID DID NOT CONFORM TO CITY SPECIFICATIONS. COUNCIL FOLLOWED THAT MOTION WITH ONE TO RE-BID THE PROPERTY.  

STATE WIDE TORNADO DRILL POSTPONED

THE STATE WIDE TORNADO DRILL SET FOR WEDNESDAY HAS BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL FRIDAY.

UPSON EMA DIRECTOR MARTHA ANN MCCARTY SAID THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WAS CONCERNED ABOUT A COLD FRONT MAKING ITS WAY ACROSS THE STATE AND OFFICIALS DID NOT WANT ANY REAL EVENTS TO COINCIDE WITH A DRILL EVENT.

EMA DIRECTOR MCCARTY SAYS DAVE NADLER OF N.W.S. SAYS UPSON COUNTY IS IN THE NEW TORNADO ALLEY FOR MIDDLE GA.--8 TORNADOS WERE RECORDED IN UPSON COUNTY IN 2017—CAUSING HUGE TIMBER DAMAGE BUT LITTLE BUILDING DAMAGE.


THE PUBLIC IS URGED TO REVIEW THE INFO ON THE EMA FACEBOOK PAGE TO USE IN PREPARATION PLANNING.