Pritchett found guilty on all counts

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – A shooting on July 8, 2017, is finally moving towards a close in the court system with Douglas Edwin Pritchett being found guilty on all counts yesterday, March 7, 2019.

As originally reported by FYN in “Fatal Shooting in Gilmer County involves GBI,” Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson stated that deputies responded to the 911 call from Douglas Pritchett, 43, claiming his home was being invaded and he had shot the invader. Involving the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), the two agencies moved forward in the investigations.

Reports from the indictments of the case indicate that Danly was shot in the face, back, and chest.

Almost two years later, Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee says, “I am very pleased with the verdict that the jury returned in this case. I feel that it is appropriate based upon the evidence gathered during the investigation of the case and the testimony and evidence presented at trial. The District Attorney’s Office would like to thank all law enforcement that was involved in the investigation and prosecution of this case, including the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office, the Gilmer County Fire and Rescue, and Jerry Hensley, Coroner of Gilmer County.”

The guilty verdict “on all counts” refers to the multiple charges listed including one count of Malice Murder, three counts of Felony Murder, one count of Aggravated Assault Intent to Murder, one count of Aggravated Assault, one count of Aggravated Battery.

Each of these charges derived from the single altercation between Pritchett and his victim, Richard Danly, 53 at the time of the shooting.

Jury selection for the case began last Thursday, February 28, and opening statements began on Friday, March 1, The case was presided over by Senior Judge C.J. Gober, previously the Chief State Court Judge of Cherokee County.

As the case progressed this week, it reached it’s initial conclusion yesterday, March 7, when the Jury took the case for deliberation at 3:00 p.m. and returned at 5:45 p.m. with their verdict.

It is also FYN’s understanding that while Danley’s mother, who is in her 80’s, was unable to attend the trial due to health issues, she did say she was very relieved when she was told of the verdict.

 

DA Sosebee begins information campaign in schools

News, Videos
District Attorney Alison Sosebee speaking to GHS students about Vaping and drug use.

ELLIJAY, Ga – The Appalachian Judicial Circuit’s District Attorney, Alison Sosebee, began her campaign today in Fannin Middle School and Gilmer High School with presentations for students about the rising trend of vaping in all forms.

Speaking to the students she shared some of the responses that authorities have begun included harsher penalties for vape devices in general, not to mention the felonies possible with controlled substances. Using drugs in the vape devices like the popular Juul brand devices is only a part of growing concerns as authorities and administrations fear for students who expect non-nicotine flavored water vapor in devices they may find friends with when in reality these devices could contain anything from Heroin to Synthetic Marijuana.

Sosebee also invited Georgia Bureau of Investigations Special Agent Dustin Hamby to speak about the Bureau’s involvement. Hamby noted that almost 90% of his cases tied to drug usage in some way. He goes on to note that he’s had three murders in his career directly related to drug usage.

Sosebee recalled the story of a case she and Hamby shared about a guy who had taken drugs with a close friend. Under the influence, he grew greatly agitated at his friend and violently murdered him without full realization. He spoke further about how little it takes to blow up into major consequences in situations like vaping unknown substances.

Sosebee also noted that they are finding that many students and users of vape devices believe them safer than regular cigarettes. She noted that not only is there zero research to support his claim, but there is also no research or regulations on vaping devices right now. No one can tell you everything that is in Vape Juice, nor if people at smoke shops are adding extra ingredients. She called the students this generations guinea pigs for testing if vaping as they would be the cases that doctors study thirty years from now to determine the actual effects that Vaping can have in both short-term and long-term effects.

Only the first day, Sosebee is expected to travel to Fannin High, Pickens High, and Pickens Middle schools in the next two weeks along with possibly adding Gilmer Middle as well.

PHS lockdown and what’s next in the Vaping Campaign

Uncategorized

Jasper, Ga – The Pickens County Board of Education hosted a no-threat lockdown today on the campus of Pickens High School.

Parents and citizens saw the Pickens County Sheriff respond to concerns saying:

We currently have a team of deputies and K-9 units participating in a controlled sweep of the Pickens High School campus. While the school is being checked, students are being placed in a non-emergency lockdown status. Students are safe and no threat exists at the school.

When questioned about the lockdown, Pickens County Schools Superintendent Dr. Carlton Wilson said the K-9 sweep was scheduled for a few weeks ago, but had to be pushed back due to scheduling conflicts with Cherokee County who supplies the K-9 units. As the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office has retired its last K-9 unit for medical reasons, Wilson stated it is a part of the agreement with Cherokee County to utilize theirs.

With the lockdown and sweep completed, Wilson informed FYN that no drugs were located during the sweep today. Though he noted it was not directly related to the rising use of vape devices, Wilson did respond to questions about the trend saying that it is a concern in the school system.

Sweeps like this is a part of the school’s enforcement of its code of conduct as well as state and federal law. Though Wilson said there is more going on behind the scenes in the system’s response to the rising vape concerns and to school security in general, he declined to release details saying, “There is a number of things that we are doing and things that we are working with the Sheriff’s Office, some of that we just can’t publicize at the moment.”

More information on these steps like the K-9 sweeps and other programs the school already has in place over its years in operation can be found at the upcoming Monday, September 24, day of events involving the Office of the Sheriff, the District Attorney, and Pickens School district as they hold a meeting for parents for information and the ‘Chat with the Superintendent’ at Pickens High School at 6 p.m.

Wilson went on to note that the school system is being forced to change the way it views vaping devices. While he notes that it is against the law for underage kids to possess cigarettes and vaping devices and they have enforced the law, he did state that the school system may have, at times, not utilized the most extreme forms of discipline available in every situation involving the use of nicotine. He went on to say, “Now that this added ability of being able to vape just about anything, that brings it to a whole different level.”

As part of the school’s efforts to inform parents and students about the dangers that vapes present with not knowing what is in them, the board is working with the District Attorney and the Sheriff’s Office. Wilson said, “We may have looked at vaping in the past as more of a replacement for a cigarette, and not as a delivery device for drugs… Going forward, we probably would.”

He added later, “We’re going to have to really start disciplining to the fullest extent that we can, given to us by our Code of Conduct or either by the Law to keep our children safe.”

“Vaping” incident part of a larger problem

News

Ellijay, Ga. – An incident report from the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office confirmed reports of a student “blacking out” and suffering seizures after inhaling a substance from a SMOK Vape device.

Photo provided by Office of District Attorney, Appalachian Judicial Circuit

Photo provided by Office of District Attorney, Appalachian Judicial Circuit

The male student was hospitalized from the incident and later released. The incident, however, did prompt officials to call in K-9 units to search for other drugs. Authorities found two additional SMOK Vapes with one testing positive for containing marijuana. While the

original vape has been tested, no official response is available identifying the substance in the original device.

However, according to the incident report, it was reported that the student was told by a fellow classmate that “there was a vape in the boy’s restroom and he should go smoke some of it.”

With the investigation in Gilmer CID’s (Criminal Investigations Division) hands, no names of the students nor additional information is available.

However, FYN spoke with Gilmer County Charter School Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs who confirmed the incident is part of a larger problem facing the schools today. She told FYN that last year, the school system confiscated eight vape devices over the course of the entire year. This year, they have already collected 25 devices since the beginning of school a few weeks ago.

Each instance results in disciplinary action for the student as it is a violation of the code of conduct, according to Downs, but as the rise in using other substances in the devices continues, the charges against students get far more serious as they deal with controlled substances.

Photo provided by Office of District Attorney, Appalachian Judicial Circuit

Photo provided by Office of District Attorney, Appalachian Judicial Circuit

Downs went on to say that she has spoken with other Superintendents to see if Gilmer is alone in the rise of vape usage. Though she declined to name which counties she had spoken with, she did confirm that Gilmer was not alone.

Confirming the rise in popularity of these devices in several counties, the Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee made a press release stating, “Within the last week, several teens in Pickens, Gilmer and Fannin counties have experienced medical emergencies as a result of “vaping,” by use of electronic cigarettes. These medical emergencies necessitated treatment by both EMS and treatment at hospitals.”

Many of the vape devices found being used are very small handheld devices easily concealed within one’s palm or bag, like a purse or book bag, or even in one’s pocket as several designs become thinner and shorter. Downs confirmed they have found Juul brand vapes and last weeks incident report confirmed the males vape was a SMOK brand. Sosebee notes, “Some e-cigarettes look like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Some look like USB flash drives, pens, and other everyday items.”

As the use of vapes themselves are intended to be used with nicotine for adult smokers, the rising concern is the ability to swap out the common “juice” for homemade cocktails or drugs. Downs confirmed that reports have been made of students crushing Adderall and other things to make the “juice.”

According to Juul’s website, “These alternatives contain nicotine, which has not been shown to cause cancer but can create dependency. We believe that these alternatives are not appropriate for people who do not already smoke.”

Photo provided by Office of District Attorney, Appalachian Judicial Circuit

Photo provided by Office of District Attorney, Appalachian Judicial Circuit

Sosebee also commented on other substances that have been found in the devices saying, “The liquid that is inhaled, known commonly as “vape juice,” can contain any number of substances: it can contain flavoring; it can contain nicotine; it can also contain drugs and illegal substances such as THC oil, fentanyl and LSD. Of great concern, the user may or may not know what they are inhaling, what their reaction will be to the substances, what they are exposing others to and may erroneously believe that they are simply inhaling “harmless water vapor.” There is nothing harmless about what is occurring.”

Downs went on to say that some parents may have purchased vapes for their kids not knowing that they are swapping out the contents. The feeling was echoed by Sosebee as she called for parents to “be aware of the dangers of vaping and e-cigarettes.”

With concerns rising from parents, administration, and law enforcement alike, investigations are continuing as programs and events are attempting to educate the community about the devices and their popularity.

Downs said the Gilmer Administration is stepping up efforts in educating and building awareness in their staff about what to look for and also to educate our parents in the community saying, “I feel like there is a real lack of knowledge and lack of understanding among our community in relation to this… This has blown up overnight to the point that I feel like its almost epidemic.”

 

 

County officials discuss the safety of our local schools

Community, GMFTO

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, returned to class today, Feb. 28, just two short weeks after one of America’s deadliest mass shootings in modern history took place in their halls.

In the wake of this tragedy, which claimed 17 lives, discussion have opened up about school safety and what can be done to prevent situations like this from occurring in the future.

Brian K. Pritchard (BKP), chief executive officer of FetchYourNews and host of Good Morning From The Office morning show, invited local officials from Gilmer and Fannin counties to address the safety of our local school systems.

Georgia, Blue Ridge, Ellijay, Fannin County, Gilmer County, School Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Dr. Shanna Wilkes, Sheriff, Dane Kirby, Stacy Nicholson, School Resource Officer, SRO, Sergeant Greg Dodson, Lieutenant Darvin Couch, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Parkland, Florida, Shooting, School Safety, Appalachian Judicial Circuit

County officials from both Fannin and Gilmer counties met to discuss the safety of our schools.

In opening the discussion, BKP directly asked both Gilmer and Fannin County School superintendents how safe do they feel the schools in our area are.

Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney answered from a personal perspective: “My child is in a Fannin County school this morning.”

“We are always vigilant in watching what’s going on with our students, watching what’s going on on social media,” Gilmer County School Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes said, explaining why she too felt the schools in her county were safe, “and staying in constant contact with our law enforcement.”

“What I feel has come out of Parkland (shooting) is a breakdown in the system,” BKP pointed out to the guest panel and questioned how officials have addressed any recent incidents.

Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson replied that his department has had to respond to incidents almost daily for the past two weeks, but clarified that most complaints are not serious.

“The problem is law enforcement can no longer say that’s not serious. We have to take it serious,” Nicholson explained.

Modern times are different according to Nicholson and he stressed, “Pranks are no longer pranks. When it comes to school safety we will investigate and we will prosecute and arrest or send you to juvenile court.”

Many counties in Georgia do not have school resource officers (SRO) assigned to every school in their district. Fortunately, for both Fannin and Gilmer, this is not the case. All schools within each system has its own SRO, and all panel members feel that this is a major element in keeping our schools safe.

Georgia, Blue Ridge, Ellijay, Fannin County, Gilmer County, School Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Dr. Shanna Wilkes, Sheriff, Dane Kirby, Stacy Nicholson, School Resource Officer, SRO, Sergeant Greg Dodson, Lieutenant Darvin Couch, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Parkland, Florida, Shooting, School Safety, Appalachian Judicial Circuit

Gilmer County SRO Sgt. Greg Dodson discussed SRO training and duties.

“Are all the SRO officers armed this morning?” BKP directly asked the panel. Both Nicholson and Fannin County Sheriff Dane Kirby replied that all officers on all campuses were armed.

Gilmer County School Resource Officer Sergeant Greg Dodson explained the duties of an SRO: “A very large part of the job is visual security. It’s patrolling the interior and exterior of the school, checking doors, making sure that they’re locked, trying to monitor who comes and goes.”

“If you see someone at the schools that you don’t recognize, make sure they have a visitor pass, that they’ve gone through the office properly,” Dodson added.

Other duties include checking parking lots, bathrooms, hallways, and interacting and developing relationships with the students.

In Gilmer County, to become an SRO, a deputy must submit a formal letter requesting that position. A panel of the officer’s peers then formally recommends who they feel should be placed in that position. Sheriff Nicholson makes a final decision based on the panel’s recommendations.

Fannin County Sheriff Dane Kirby confirmed that the process in Fannin County is very similar to Gilmer County and added, “That’s not a job (SRO) that you have just to draw a paycheck. That has to be something that the deputy wants to do.”

“From the very get go, it has to be what that person really wants to do,” Kirby said, explaining that the SROs in place are not only trained but also have a passion for that particular field.

Training for an SRO goes beyond that of a police academy. This training includes a School Resource Officer course, Crisis Intervention Training, Gun Safety, and in-service training such as active shooter scenarios.

Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee was present to discuss the legal aspects of threats against a school and what her department does in collaboration with law enforcement to combat any potential crimes.

“I just need one referral to start. I need one concerned student. I need one diligent parent. That’s what allows us to be able to initiate the investigation and to assess what we need to do next,” Sosebee described of the process of how her department can become involved.

Georgia, Blue Ridge, Ellijay, Fannin County, Gilmer County, School Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Dr. Shanna Wilkes, Sheriff, Dane Kirby, Stacy Nicholson, School Resource Officer, SRO, Sergeant Greg Dodson, Lieutenant Darvin Couch, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Parkland, Florida, Shooting, School Safety, Appalachian Judicial Circuit

Fannin County Sheriff Dane Kirby and Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson address law enforcement’s role in providing safety for our schools.

Sosebee said we are fortunate to live in a smaller community where residents feel comfortable speaking up when there is an incident that makes them feel uncomfortable.

Confirming Sosebee’s thoughts on residents willing to tip off authorities, Gilmer County School Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes said, “In my experience, when we’ve had a threat that we needed to investigate, I have not gotten it from one person. I get it from 50 people within about an hour.”

“No matter how good you are technologically, there is no substitution for a good tip,” Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney expressed in similar views.

Both Fannin and Gilmer County school systems continue to take steps to improve safety measures in their schools. Gwatney is looking into extra safety measures using technology. This would include a large network of monitoring devices.

Wilkes is working to renovate Gilmer High School. She would like to implement scan cards for access to doors and is working to restructure the building to create a single point of entry through the front office.

With large campuses and multiple buildings, BKP asked, “Would you look at letting teachers or putting that program into place at your schools to allow weapons in there and how would it work?”

Texas has legislation, School Marshal, to allow teachers to carry weapons on campus, and Florida recently passed similar legislation. Currently in Georgia, there is no statewide legislation on the issue, but rather Georgia allows local school districts to create their own policies regarding this matter.

Gilmer County has looked at sample legislation from other counties in the past, but never voted to enact a policy. Wilkes said that she would favor a policy that would require the individual to qualify with a firearm and that would obligate the individual to attend an annual firearm training course.

Wilkes also would like there to be anonymity in which teachers are armed within the school.

“It would have to be very regulated. It takes the right person, like it takes the right SRO,” Wilkes shared of her stance.

Gwatney was not opposed to the idea but does not want it to negatively affect an educator’s job: “The purpose of a teacher to care for the kids and teach for the kids. We don’t want to create a situation where we force the teacher to try to take on a law enforcement role.”

The panel also expressed frustrations on a system that sometimes works against them in their efforts to keep our children safe.

On a criminal level, Sheriff Nicholson expressed disappointment in a system that seems increasingly unwilling to keep a juvenile in detainment: “It’s getting harder and harder to get someone detained. That’s frustrating.”

Georgia, Blue Ridge, Ellijay, Fannin County, Gilmer County, School Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Dr. Shanna Wilkes, Sheriff, Dane Kirby, Stacy Nicholson, School Resource Officer, SRO, Sergeant Greg Dodson, Lieutenant Darvin Couch, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Parkland, Florida, Shooting, School Safety, Appalachian Judicial Circuit

BKP’s All Star Panel questions officials on a number of issues that the school systems face in regard to safety.

Sosebee confirmed Nicholson’s frustration and explained, “Part of that, the court system with relation to that, is the restrictions that are put on the court system as to when these juveniles can be detained and when they cannot be detained and that is where a lot of the hands tying is coming from, from the court system.”

Just like law enforcement, the school systems feel that there is legislation and policy in place that ties their hands when they witness “red flags”.

BKP pointed out the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which has grown since it was first enacted and states that schools being a government agency must accommodate individuals with diagnosed disabilities.

Wilkes acknowledged that the ADA does play a heavy role in how schools can handle disciplinary situations: “In many cases, you’re dealing with students who have a disability such as an emotional behavioral disorder, which falls under special education.”

In such cases, if a student makes a threat or acts in a way that requires disciplinary action, the school must first have a Manifestation Hearing.

In a Manifestation Hearing, a panel is made up of a licensed school psychologist, the student’s special education case manager, a teacher that works directly with the student, an administrator, and the parents or guardians of the child.

The panel determines if the threat or infraction is directly related to the student’s disability. If it is deemed that it is in relation to the disability, then disciplinary action cannot be taken.

If it is deemed that the issue is not related to the child’s disability, then a tribunal is formed to determine what disciplinary actions should be taken.

“If a student has any disability at all,” Wilkes clarified, “even if it’s a learning disability in reading, and let’s say they try to burn down the school, then we have to have a manifestation hearing to see if that learning disability led to them trying to burn down the school.”

Due to this process and the strict rules surrounding juvenile privacy, Wilkes stated if it is related to a disability “our hands are tied as to what we can do.”

The panel agreed that collaboration between departments along with a proactive stance on safety is the best route to take when it comes to the welfare of our counties’ children but felt that changes could be made in legislation that would make providing our schools with this security a much more efficient process.

You can watch BKP’s Good Morning From The Office #AnythingGoes School Safety Special in the video below.

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Gilmer Budget Sessions for 2018

News, Police & Government

ELLIJAY, GA – The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners held the budget review sessions in preparation for the 2018 Budget.

The videos below document the departments with which the Commissioners spoke. Citizens can attend the Budget Finalization Meeting on Monday, Nov. 6, at 10 a.m. or stay with Fetch Your News for updates after the meeting.

 

Voter Registrar

 

Health Department

 

Probate Court, Elections

 

Magistrate Court

 

District Attorney

 

Library

 

Code & Regulatory Compliance

 

Whitepath Golf Course

 

Tax Assessor, Board of Assessors

 

Public Defender

 

Road Department, Solid Waste, Maintenance Shop, Airport

 

Planning & Zoning

 

Clerk of Superior Court, Board of Equalization

 

Park & Recreation

 

Hotel/Motel

 

Sheriff, Detention Cener, E-911

 

Fire & EMS, EMA

 

Courthouse & Facilities

 

Animal Control

 

Tax Commissioner

Gilmer High School – Prank or Vandalism and Unlawful Entry?

News

ELLIJAY, GA – On May 24, 2017, four people appeared on security cameras at Gilmer County High School as they came from the vicinity of Mountain View Elementary School.

Those on the footage proceeded to gain entry to the school at approximately 2:00 am, drug out a milk cooler, a metal shelf, and several smaller items including mops, and leave them in the roadway of Bobcat Trail.

Later identified as Paul Kell Kiker III, Austin Tyler Buntin, Griffin Douglas Cagle, and Noble Zuschlag, the four men continued around the school damaging 23 locks with toothpicks and glue. Three of the men recently graduated from Gilmer High School in 2017 while Zuschlag was a 2016 graduate.

Though appearing in the security footage to have been in possession of a key gaining entry, officials say the suspects told them they did not have keys, but rather that the door was unlocked when they pulled on it.

After gaining entry to a storage room and putting a metal shelving rack in the roadway behind the school, the Incident Report of the School Resource Officer (SRO) investigating stated “another person came outside pulling a dairy cooler, and he and another student put the cooler in the roadway. They then pushed the cooler down the roadway towards South Main Street (Old Hwy 5).”

(Click to Enlarge Documents)

Gilmer County Sheriff's Office Incident Report Page 1

Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office Incident Report Page 1

Gilmer County Sheriff's Office Incident Report Page 2

Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office Incident Report Page 2

Gilmer County Sheriff's Office Incident Report Page 3

Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office Incident Report Page 3

Gilmer County Sheriff's Office Incident Report Page 4

Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office Incident Report Page 4

Gilmer County Sheriff's Office Incident Report Page 5

Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office Incident Report Page 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Kell Kiker, III, identified as one of the four men responsible for the damage done to Gilmer High School.

Paul Kell Kiker, III, identified as one of the four men responsible for the damage done to Gilmer High School.

The report also states, “The cooler was found of the side of Bobcat Trail. Apparently, it was severely damaged when it struck the guardrail on the side of the roadway.”

During his investigation, the SRO had three of the Gilmer High School Faculty, Assistant Principal Greg Burrell, Principal Carla Foley, and Interim Athletic Director Terry Luck all watch the footage which resulted in them separately identifying one student as Griffin Cagle.

According to the Officer’s Report, as Cagle was questioned at the Board of Education Offices, he agreed it was him in the video and told the officer the names of the other three students involved.

Austin Tyler Buntin, identified as one of the four men responsible for the damage done to Gilmer High School.

Austin Tyler Buntin, identified as one of the four men responsible for the damage done to Gilmer High School.

Tyler Buntin and Kell Kiker individually came to the School Resource Officer’s Office at GHS and agreed to speak with the officer about the incident. “Having already signed the “Miranda Warning” form,” the report states, “they both admitted to their roles in the incident…”

Kiker also admitted they bought the super glue and toothpicks that were put into the 23 locks on school doors reported as damaged. Both students also identified themselves in the security footage.

On May 25, 2017, Noble Zuschlag met the SRO in his office with his father. After being read his “Miranda Rights” Zuschlag stated he wished to speak with Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes first.

Noble Zuschlag, identified as one of the four men responsible for the damage done to Gilmer High School.

Noble Zuschlag, identified as one of the four men responsible for the damage done to Gilmer High School.

With all four involved gathered, the officer states he took them into a conference with Dr. Wilkes and Gilmer High School Principal Carla Foley.

Being reminded of the Miranda Rights still applying, all four reportedly apologized to Dr. Wilkes and Principal Foley.

It was at this time that the SRO asked Noble Zuschlag what he was apologizing for since he had never spoken with him. Zuschlag did admit to not only participating in the act, but specifically identifying himself with details about his attire and actions in the incident.

On May 31, 2017, the officer issued a summons for each of the four involved and met with them to explain the summons and their mandatory appearance in Superior Court, set for June 13, 2017.

Griffin Douglas Cagle, identified as one of the four men responsible for the damage done to Gilmer High School.

Griffin Douglas Cagle, identified as one of the four men responsible for the damage done to Gilmer High School.

Since then, the students have been accepted into the “Youthful Offender Pre-Trial Diversion Program” and agreed to certain terms. If they should violate any of the terms the agreement states it will “result in the case being referred to prosecution for not only the offense of Disrupting Operations of  a Public School, but for all other criminal offense that may have arisen from the act(s) that is/are the basis for the above stated citation.”

As a part of the agreement, a summary of those terms agreed to include:

  1. Submitting to written or oral requests from certain officials to produce a breath, spittle, urine, and/or blood specimen for testing of presence of prohibited substances including alcohol.
  2. Designated and random drug screenings on specified dates by Appalachian Pre-Trial and Probation and the Office of the District Attorney.
  3. Submitting to searches by a Probation Officer or Law Enforcement Officer at any time with or without search warrants and to the use of any items seized as evidence in revoking this Agreement or any other criminal/civil proceeding.
  4. No drug usage without a physician’s prescription and submission of all prescription’s to the District Attorney’s Office for inspection and copy. The Office must also be notified of all medical and dental appointments, whether routine or emergency. Prescriptions must also be presented to the office before ingestion along with the information of the medical provider who prescribed the medication. No ingestion of alcohol in any form, energy pills, energy drinks, steroids, or any other mood altering substance.
  5. No other violations of the law and immediate notification of any new arrests.
  6. Enrollment of a designated college or university while maintaining daily attendance (unless medically excused by a treating physician) and provision of school records to include final grades at the end of each term.
  7. Maintaining a minimum 3.0 GPA.
  8. No disciplinary reports at school.
  9. Youthful Offender Pre-Trial Diversion Program Terms and Conditions Page 2

    Youthful Offender Pre-Trial Diversion Program Terms and Conditions Page 2 (Click to Enlarge)

    Youthful Offender Pre-Trial Diversion Program Terms and Conditions Page 1

    Youthful Offender Pre-Trial Diversion Program Terms and Conditions Page 1 (Click to Enlarge)

    If drug tested at Appalachian Pre-Trial and Probation, a $5.00 payment for each drug test given. If drug tested at another location, the Accused bears the full costs and provides the results to the District Attorney’s Office. Also, immediate attendance to the designated location is required or the test result is automatically positive.

  10. Required residence with parents when not at college, and required residence in campus dormitory when at college. Campus physical and mailing address shall be provided to the DA’s office as well as notice of any changes in address within 72 hours.
  11. Youthful Offender Pre-Trial Diversion Program Terms and Conditions Page 4

    Youthful Offender Pre-Trial Diversion Program Terms and Conditions Page 4 (Click to Enlarge)

    Youthful Offender Pre-Trial Diversion Program Terms and Conditions Page 3

    Youthful Offender Pre-Trial Diversion Program Terms and Conditions Page 3 (Click to Enlarge)

    When not at college, must be within parent’s residence between 11:00 pm and 6:00 am unless physically accompanied by a parent.

  12. Obey all lawful commands by parents.
  13. Avoid persons or places of disreputable character.
  14. 200 hours of community service within 12 months with at least 100 within the Gilmer County School System, the balance of hours completed at discretion of Gilmer County Parks and Recreation Director and Gilmer County Community Service supervisor, and attempts made to complete work by August 2017.
  15. No maintaining, initiating, creating, posting, participating or any presence on social media sites or accounts for six months as well as immediate deactivation of current accounts. This includes appearing in other people’s posts even if not specifically tagged or identified. Violations automatically extend the period by six months.
  16. Payment to the Gilmer County School System equal to one-fourth of the restitution owed for damages within 12 months and proof of payment provided to the DA’s Office.

While the original length of the agreement is set at 12 months, violations of these terms could result in extending the length of the program, addition, deletion, or modification of the terms, or termination of the program with prosecution to follow.

Upon completion of the program, the Office of the District Attorney agrees to dismiss the citation and waive prosecution on other criminal offenses.

Still, others state that more questions remain. No specifics have been delivered about whether or not the four had a key to the school. While officials report the students said the door was open, no other discussion or report has offered more information.

If the door was open, then who left it open? Is there an investigation going as to why it was left open?

Gilmer County Closings for Tuesday January 10th, 2017

Announcements

**Many secondary roads in Gilmer County remain iced and dangerous at this time. For this reason, Gilmer County schools will be closed for students Tuesday January 10th; however certified and 12 month staff should report at 10:00 if safe

*Due to road conditions, North Ga Christian Academy will be closed Tuesday, January 10th for students and staff.

*District Attorney, Appalachian Judicial Circuit
Scheduled reconvening of the Gilmer County Grand Jury will be postponed.

*Dalton State Gilmer Center
The Gilmer Center will operate on a regular schedule tomorrow, January 10. As always, if you don’t feel travel is safe in your area, please use your own judgement as to whether to come. Make sure to email your professor if you don’t come to class since this is the first week of class and attendance verification is important. We will see you tomorrow!

*US National Weather Service Peachtree City Georgia
Unfortunately folks, we still have lingering patches of ice – so be careful overnight into Tues AM in parts of the north! This includes Gilmer County.

Sworn in for second term, Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee

News

Thursday, December 29th,  Pickens County Probate Judge David W. Lindsey administered the oath of office for Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee. Fannin, Pickens, and Gilmer counties make up the circuit. 

Sosebee, “I want to express my heartfelt thanks to the voters of Fannin, Gilmer and Pickens counties for being elected to another term as District Attorney of the Appalachian Judicial Circuit.  Being sworn in to a second term is both an honor and humbling that the citizens of the Appalachian Judicial Circuit have placed their trust in me. In looking forward to the upcoming term, each criminal case will continue to be evaluated on its merits and this determination will be made without bias or prejudice towards any person.  I also look forward to continuing and expanding the community outreach and prevention programs supported and sponsored by the District Attorney’s office.”

B. Alison Sosebee is a lifelong resident of Fannin County and she is the mother of two sons, Nathaniel and Grahym Maloof. She is the daughter of Robert L. Sosebee, Sr., the general manager of Tri-State Electric Cooperative for several years and Barbara Payne Sosebee.

B. Alison Sosebee is a lifelong resident of Fannin County and she is the mother of two sons, Nathaniel and Grahym Maloof. She is the daughter of Robert L. Sosebee, Sr., the general manager of Tri-State Electric Cooperative for several years and Barbara Payne Sosebee.

The Circuit’s Chief Judge Brenda S. Weaver made some brief comments concerning accountability courts. Weaver stressed how important it is to have the support of the District Attorney for the accountability courts to be successful.  Weaver thanked Sosebee for the DA’s committed support to the speciality courts.  The specialty courts consist of Appalachian Judicial Circuit Adult Drug Court, Mental Health Court, Adult Veterans Drug Court,  Family Drug Court,  & Juvenile Drug Court.

Sosebee will be starting her second term. She ran unopposed in both the 2016 primary and general election. Sosebee defeated incumbent Joe Hendricks and former superior court judge Harry Doss in the 2012 primary for her first term.

Watch the video below and meet DA. B. Alison Sosebee

Local DA is Leading the Way – Sosebee Presents Weapons of Mass Destructions

Featured Stories, News

Some technology has been around forever while smart phones are relatively new.   The majority of kids have one and are responsible users however kids are kids and our greatest investment and resource.  Recently it came to our attention how fast times have changed and some misuse with smart phones.  Most kids have cell phones or internet access on a daily basis.  There is good and bad and like anything, sometimes it is all in how it is used.  The issues facing children change from year to year and how people are equipped to handle the change can make all the difference.  This is where our local District Attorney of the Appalachian Judicial Circuit B. Alison Sosebee stepped up to help us all be proactive.

Frustration can sometimes lead to solutions and in this case Sosebee believed prevention to be the best solution.  Tired of seeing indecent photos on confiscated phones from school children prompted Ms. Sosebee to put together a program for the children and the parents.  FetchYourNews.com has video productions of the program and also brought a town hall live.  We also did an Anti Bully Campaign in the middle schools asking the children to provide essays, posters, or videos on the subject of cyber bullying to help raise awareness and hopefully provoke thought on the issue.

See Links:Anti Bully Campaign    Weapons of Mass Destruction

The Weapons of Mass Destruction addresses the downfalls which can change a life forever with the misuse of a cell phone, from cyber bullying to sending or possessing indecent photos.  The program for the parents addresses safety precautions parents can take; such as apps which monitor children’s phones and control access to certain unsafe and detrimental sites or activities.  The program developed by DA Alison Sosebee is very direct and informative and FYN plans to continue with our campaign by using various methods of raising awareness and sharing information.

The only problem with the Weapons of Mass Destruction campaign was the limitation of the distribution.   Since Sosebee only serves Fannin, Gilmer, and Pickens and the problems are prevalent all over our Country.  Thus another solution avails and also an opportunity to inform parents and educate our children and hopefully prevent much heartache.  Today Sosebee will be sharing the well put together program with other District Attorneys from all over.

The Annual Winter meeting of the District Attorneys’ Association is being held in Morrow, GA on December 3-4, 2015 and Ms. Sosebee will have the floor to present her program “Weapons of Mass Destruction”  to the other District Attorneys and explain the issues which brought about the campaign.  The desire is for the program to become widespread. Hopefully the other District Attorneys will take advantage and set up presentations in the regions they serve.  The program may help combat problems before they arise.  FYN looks forward to soon announcing the new areas the program is being used.  As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Ms. Sosebee told us in regards to the program she has high hopes it will change the future for many children; who may avoid a serious mistake or a permanent record.  The program provides a better understanding of the consequences of misusing a cell phone or bullying.  She also hopes it will provoke children to think about how they treat each other and how they value their own dignity.  Her philosophy in regards to these issues, “No matter how educated, talented, rich, or cool you believe yourself to be, how you treat people ultimately tells all.  Integrity is everything.”

 

 

Deal announces Court of Appeals appointments

Featured, News
October 29, 2015
Gov. Nathan Deal today announced the appointment of the Honorable Amanda H. Mercier, the Honorable Nels S.D. Peterson and the Honorable Brian M. Rickman to the Georgia Court of Appeals. These new Judgeships were created by the passage of HB 279 during the 2015 legislative session. The terms of the new judges will begin Jan. 1, 2016, and will continue through Dec. 31, 2018.
Amanda H. Mercier
Mercier currently serves as a superior court judge within the Appalachian Judicial Circuit. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia and a law degree from Syracuse University College of Law. She and her husband, Joseph, have one child and reside in Blue Ridge.
Nels S.D. Peterson
Peterson currently serves as vice chancellor for legal affairs and secretary to the Board of Regents. He previously worked at the Georgia Department of Law and established Georgia’s first Solicitor General Office where he served as solicitor general. He was also the deputy executive counsel and executive counsel for Gov. Sonny Perdue. Peterson earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Kennesaw State University and a law degree from Harvard Law School. He and his wife, Jennifer, have two children and reside in Marietta.
Brian M. Rickman
Rickman currently serves as district attorney of the Mountain Judicial Circuit, where he was previously an assistant district attorney. He is an adjunct professor and serves on the board of trustees at Piedmont College. Rickman earned a bachelor’s degree from Piedmont College and a law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law. He and his wife, Maggie, have two children and reside in Tiger.

Sosebee Sworn in as New DA!

Featured Stories, News

Appalachian Circuit District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee was sworn in this morning at the Fannin County Courthouse by Judge Brenda Weaver. (more…)

Budget Workshop: District Attorney

News

Below is the video for the budget workshop: District Attorney
(more…)

ETC Debates: District Attorney Run-Off Race

Featured Stories, Politics

FYN & ETC 3 brings you a one hour debate featuring B. Alison Sosebee and Incumbent Joe Hendricks.
ETC 3 will re-air the debate on Thursday 8/16 at 9:00 p.m, Saturday 8/18 at 11:00 a.m. and Monday 8/20 at 7:00 p.m. (more…)

District Attorney Race, Interview with B. Alison Sosebee

Featured Stories, Politics

You think it’s going to be a hot summer, check out the Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney Race. Video interview. Candidate for District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee. (more…)

District Attorney Race, Interview with Harry Doss

Featured Stories, Politics

You think it’s going to be a hot summer, check out the Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney Race. Video interview. Candidate for District Attorney Harry Doss. (more…)

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