LAW

The Covington News - - Lo­cal news -

Tri­als

turned-homi­cide that ben­e­fited from the use of new tech­nolo­gies. Ash­ley Obryant Vin­son, 20, was shot in the head at close range in the back of a Buick LeSabre after a mar­i­juana deal dis­pute. Ce­cil Allen and Ju­lian Hol­loway, the al­leged per­pe­tra­tors, ap­par­ently pan­icked and drove the car to Hol­loway’s par­ents’ house.

Us­ing data­bases, of­fi­cers were able to pull up Hol­loway’s home ad­dress. When they were fi­nally let in, of­fi­cers found the car with Vin­son’s body in the garage.

One of the more grue­some cases oc­curred at the end of March when Rod­ney Re­nia Young, 40, of Bridgeton, N.J., al­legedly killed Gary La­mar Jones, a one-time cor­rec­tional of­fi­cer and box­ing am­a­teur, us­ing a ham­mer.

Jones' mother dis­cov­ered her son's body as she came home from work March 30, ac­cord­ing to the New­ton County Sher­iff's Of­fice. There were re­port­edly signs of a forced en­try. Young was ar­rested in Bridgeton and charged with mal­ice mur­der, felony mur­der, ag­gra­vated as­sault and bur­glary.

The Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s of­fice is purs­ing the death penalty against Young — a case that might come to trial in 2009. The one other pend­ing death penalty case, that of Cobey Wade Lakem­per, for the al­leged mur­der of ho­tel clerk Wendy Carter dur­ing an armed rob­bery on Aug. 18, 2005, might also come to trial in 2009.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors are still look­ing for Por­firio Guanchez/Ro­man, 27, who al­legedly killed his es­tranged wife, Carmen Guanchez in Au­gust. His truck was found at Harts­field-Jack­son In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

Social Cir­cle also had one homi­cide, the first faced by the city’s po­lice depart­ment since its in­cep­tion in 2005, when Cyn­thia Lundy, a for­mer New­ton County teacher, was shot by her brother, Bret Grant, 20, on July 25 fol­low­ing a dis­pute.

This year saw the bizarre trial of Christo­pher “Big Boy” Rozier, 20, and Xavier “Pretty Boy” Dyer, 20, and Wil­lie “Scooter” Dyer, 19, for the 2007 shoot­ing death of Ru­fus Tony Richard­son, 55.

The de­fen­dants were ac­cused of putting rat poi­son in Richard­son’s crack pipe and, when that didn’t work, tak­ing him to the woods and shoot­ing him.

Rozier and Xavier Dyer were found guilty of all counts, in­clud­ing mal­ice mur­der and felony mur­der, and sen­tenced to life in prison plus 25 years. Wil­lie Dyer was found not guilty.

The case of Thomas Fran­cis, a one­time deputy ac­cused of fa­tally shoot­ing his wife Denise Michele “Shelly” Fran­cis in 2006 at their home in Social Cir­cle, also came to trial this year.

Thomas Fran­cis was found guilty of all counts against him, in­clud­ing mal­ice mur­der, mur­der and the ob­struc­tion of an emer­gency call. He was sen­tenced to life plus seven years.

Tran­si­tions

This year also saw Sher­iff Joe Ni­chols step down after more than decade as the county’s top cop.

A num­ber of other prom­i­nent law of­fi­cials qui­etly stepped down after decades of ser­vice. Judge Billy Wa­ters re­tired from the bench after 11 years as the ju­ve­nile court judge to prac­tice law at his for­mer law firm. Sheri Capes Roberts was ap­pointed as the new ju­ve­nile court judge.

Coro­ner Bob Wheeler also an­nounced his re­tire­ment after 20 years in the po­si­tion. As­sis­tant Coro­ner Tommy Davis ran un­op­posed in Novem­ber’s elec­tions for the of­fice.

Ra­dio Con­ver­sion

New­ton County fi­nally saw the fruition of its long-awaited ra­dio con­ver­sion project this year, aimed at get­ting all of the county’s pub­lic safety and pub­lic works agen­cies on the same wave­length.

“We are now far bet­ter pre­pared than most coun­ties and agen­cies in the coun­try that if we should have some type of dis­as­ter we can get ev­ery­body co­or­di­nated eas­ily since we're on one ra­dio sys­tem,” said project co­or­di­na­tor Mike Smith, di­rec­tor of the 911 cen­ter.

The project and new sys­tem, which cost more than $4.5 mil­lion and was funded in part by a 1-cent sales tax ap­proved in 2005, was ini­tially sched­uled to be com­plete around 2007 but was de­layed when an al­ter­nate site needed to be found for the con­struc­tion of the sev­enth ra­dio tower.

Spe­cial In­ves­ti­ga­tion Unit

The Spe­cial In­ves­ti­ga­tions Unit was formed out of the Cov­ing­ton Po­lice Depart­ment and the New­ton County Sher­iff’s Of­fice after the close of the East Metro Drug En­force­ment Team (EMDET) in late 2007.

“SIU is bet­ter equipped to han­dle dif­fer­ent types of crimes,” said SIU head Lt. Philip Brad­ford, ac­knowl­edg­ing the new tech­nolo­gies ac­quired by SIU.

He pointed out a coun­ty­wide round up of drug deal­ers in late April fol­low­ing a four­month in­ves­ti­ga­tion that net­ted 44 ar­rests mostly for co­caine. Of those ar­rests, all but two have pled guilty, he said.

An­other large SIU case was the bust of a cross-coun­try mar­i­juana dis­tribut­ing ring that in­cluded the house of Deme­tres Jack­son, 34, and Jack­son’s busi­ness, Ex­press Mail­box, on Salem Road.

From Jan­uary to De­cem­ber of 2008, SIU made 141 ar­rests and han­dled 112 cases.

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