News from around the state

Schools pay $1.7M for lawyers in cheating cases

Authorities say Atlanta’s public school system has spent more than $1.7 million hiring outside attorneys to assist with cases in the district’s school cheating scandal.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (http://bit.ly/QCrybo) that it could be a year or more before all are resolved.

An investigation last July implicated about 180 educators in instances of cheating dating back to 2001. Their report cited a range of violations - from holding parties to change answers to instructing students to recheck work if they noticed an incorrect response.

Educators can challenge the commission’s ruling, and hearings have been requested in about 120 cases so far.

High court upholds conviction in Cobb Co. slaying

Georgia’s highest court has upheld the murder conviction of a metro Atlanta man who was found guilty of cutting and stabbing his estranged wife 183 times.

In a unanimous ruling released Monday, the Supreme Court of Georgia rejected Donovan Shane Leger’s claims that the trial court made numerous errors in handling his case. Instead, the court found there was sufficient evidence for the jury to find Leger guilty of the 2004 slaying.

Authorities say Tracy Leger’s body was found by her brother on the ground by a Cobb County home. A medical examiner later determined she had been cut, stabbed and sliced 183 times. During a search of Donovan Ledger’s home, police found a book entitled “Fugitive: How to Run, Hide and Survive.”

Developer plans $100M resort near Ga. coast

A developer says it plans to build a $100 million resort with built-in tourist attractions on a site along Interstate 95 in Kingsland near the Georgia coast.

The Florida Times-Union reports (http://bit.ly/S5mzSu ) Minneapolis-based Real Development Corp. says the development will include a hotel and conference center, an adventure park, a movie theater, retail shops and restaurants, a zip-line and ropes course and a water park.

The resort would be located on 575 acres in Kingsland, not far from the Georgia-Florida state line. The project’s consultants say the resort would employ about 800 people.

Kingsland Mayor Kenneth Smith says the project has been in the works for about two years. It’s now becoming public as the developer prepares to ask the city for land-use permits.

Conyers crematory owner’s license suspended

A state regulatory board suspended a Conyers crematory owner’s license after he was accused of threatening a co-worker and dismembering a corpse in his care, possibly without the consent of relatives.

William B. Ellenberg III, owner of Metro Embalming & Crematory Inc., also shot himself during a suicide attempt at his business, according to the Georgia State Board of Funeral Service, which suspended his license Sept. 20, according to state records. He suffered a leg wound and was treated at a local hospital, according to authorities.

Ellenberg has operated his funeral services business since 1996, according to the secretary of state’s office.

In suspending his license, the State Board of Funeral Service said Ellenberg “made terroristic threats and threaten[ed] to kill a person” with whom he worked. The Walton County Superior Court had issued a protective order against Ellenberg, but the state board did not say whether the protective order involved the same person who allegedly was threatened with “terroristic threats.”

The board also said Ellenberg “cut up and dismembered the body of an obese deceased person prior to cremating the body.”

According to The Rockdale Citizen, citing a spokesman with the Conyers Police Department, Ellenberg did not get prior approval from the dead person’s family before dismembering the corpse for cremation. The police spokesman, however, said Ellenberg committed no crime and added that it was not uncommon for crematories to dismember bodies too large to accommodate.