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ROUNDUP: Columbus police injure man shooting from I-185

These are some of the top headlines from around the state for Tuesday, April 9, 2013.

COLUMBUS — Authorities still were unsure Monday why a motorist parked alongside Interstate 185 was shooting from his vehicle before being wounded in a confrontation with Columbus police.

The as-yet unidentified man was in surgery Monday evening for at least one gunshot wound to his shoulder, said Special Agent in Charge Wayne Smith of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which as an outside agency is probing the police shooting. The man was shot as he pointed a gun at two police officers cautiously approaching his sport-utility vehicle, prompting at least on of the officers to fire on him, Smith said.

Police were responding to complaints of the driver's firing from the automobile about 1:30 p.m. on the northbound side of the interstate, between Smith Road and Williams Road, authorities said.

Smith said the motorist had his seat reclined as the officers walked up.

"They approached very cautiously," Smith said of the officers. "They could not tell if there was anybody inside. And then when they got up close to him, the driver brandished a weapon, and he was shot."

Witness interviews have confirmed that much of the story, he said.

"We have finished processing the scene and doing the initial interviews -- nothing has come out of that that was not expected," Smith said. "It was as we thought the sequence of events had taken place. There were really no surprises."

According to the latest information he had Monday evening, the suspect was expected to survive his injuries, Smith said, though such optimism was guarded. The man was being treated at The Medical Center.

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Police looking for Macon man accused of robbery, shooting

MACON — Macon police are looking for a man they say robbed, beat, and shot another man in August last year.

Police said Samuel Edward Lawrence, 31, and another man robbed someone at gunpoint and beat the victim with the handgun and their fists. The men took the victim's money and cellphone, according to a police news release. As the victim was running away, police said Lawrence fired several shots at him hitting him in the leg.

Lawrence is described as 5-feet-11 and 185 lbs. His last known address is the 2700 block of Napier Avenue. His date of birth is November 10, 1980.

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Guilty verdict for DeKalb man who hired bumbling hit man

ATLANTA — A DeKalb County man was convicted Monday for hiring a hit man who killed the wrong target.

Antiwan Dontabiya Lane was found guilty of murder, felony murder -- committing a felony that leads to a person's death -- and criminal solicitation for his part in the 2011 killing of Ivan Perez, Channel 2 Action News reported.

Prosecutors said Lane, 36, believed his wife was sleeping with Hector Gonzalez, and contracted Kevin Stallworth to kill Gonzalez.

But Stallworth shot Gonzalez's cousin, Perez, outside a Dunwoody apartment building on Dec. 26, 2011, then left evidence that pointed back to Lane, prosecutors said.

"He's the one who put this in motion," DeKalb County Assistant District Attorney Robert Statham III said Monday of Lane during closing arguments. "He hired a dumb guy who was stupid enough to shoot the wrong guy ... stupid enough to drop his phone at the scene."

Investigators used Stallworth's phone to track hundreds of phone calls and incriminating text messages exchanged with Lane in the run-up to the shooting, police said during testimony.

Lane's attorney, Max Richardson Jr., said Stallworth was a drug addict out to rob Perez.

"He's a liar," Richardson told the jury of Stallworth during closing arguments Monday.

Stallworth, 31, pleaded guilty to murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and gun charges, Channel 2 reported, and awaits sentencing.

Sentencing for Lane will be set at a later date.

Both men are being held at the DeKalb County jail.

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Bibb school board warned it may have to cut millions of dollars

MACON — Bibb County school board members may have to consider staffing reductions for the next school year, and closure of schools the following year, Acting Superintendent Susanne Griffin-Ziebart said Monday night.

Griffin-Ziebart didn't discuss specific financial figures, but said planning for the next budget was far behind schedule and needed about eight months' work before the end of June.

"You're talking potentially multimillions of dollars of reductions you need to make," Griffin-Ziebart told board members.

Separately, board members approved a censure statement for actions taken this year. Board members declined to discuss the censure statement, but it involves an unidentified member of the board who "leaked detailed information of executive session discussions" to The Telegraph.

Board members are scheduled to get a budget presentation in a week. A new presentation projects a $8.8 million shortfall for the next budget year and a $15.6 million deficit for the following year.

Based on those figures, the $24.3 million fund balance from the beginning of the current budget year would fall to just $160,930 in just over two years.

Griffin-Ziebart told reporters that staff constitute 89 percent of the budget, and it would be difficult to make multimillion dollar cuts without affecting staff. However, the staff is the key to students' success, she said.

The system's budget document plan notes other strategies used to close budget deficits. The first changes noted are reductions in force, furloughs and changes or eliminations in programs.

School board members have not discussed any of those options in-depth now.

Board member Tom Hudson noted board members were asked in a different year to consider combining schools to save money, but took no action.

A year ago, then-Superintendent Romain Dallemand proposed cutting staff and closing as many as 12 schools to save an estimated $23 million over several years. That portion of Dallemand's reform plan was never adopted.

The latest financial news includes changes in state funding, relayed in mid-March, that cost the district another $2.3 million, according to the presentation. Costs for health insurance and retirement plans are among the increases pressuring the district's budget.

Board members have tentatively scheduled work sessions and meetings beginning at 4 p.m. most Thursdays through the end of June to deal with the budget.

The school board had been expected to pick its leadership Monday night, an act that would normally have been done in January. Board members first fractured 4-4 on a vote to delay that effort until April 25. Board member Lester Miller requested a recount and changed his own vote, passing the delay.

The school board is also searching for two superintendents. Board members may pick an interim superintendent later this month, but haven't yet set a date to hire a permanent superintendent.

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Younger accused in Brunswick baby killing wants own trial

BRUNSWICK — Defense attorneys separately representing the two teenagers accused of murdering 13-month-old Antonio Santiago are at odds over whether the pair should face trial together or individually.

Kimberly Copeland, the Jesup lawyer hired by the family of 15-year-old Dominique Lang to defend him, asked in a motion filed last week in Glynn County Superior Court to separate his trial from that of co-defendant De'Marquise Elkins, 17. Although each is charged in the same crime, their cases are quite different, Copeland said.

Copeland's motion says a joint trial would "preclude and prevent the jury from individually considering the guilt or innocence of the defendants based upon their individual acts and conduct."

The request was filed two days after Kevin Gough, public defender appointed to represent Elkins, filed his own motion asking that the pair to be tried together "in the interest of judicial economy."

Lang and Elkins were both indicted March 27 by a Glynn County grand jury for felony murder, aggravated assault, attempted armed robbery and cruelty to children for their alleged roles in the March 21 attempted robbery that left Antonio shot to death and his mother, Sherry West, wounded. Elkins also faces a charge of malice murder, as the alleged shooter.

Police says West and Antonio were accosted at about 9:15 a.m. March 21 at the intersection of London and Ellis streets, in the Old Town neighborhood of Brunswick, as they returned from the Post Office.

Elkins is also charged in the same indictment with aggravated assault and attempted armed robbery for his alleged role in a March 11 robbery that left a Brunswick man with a gunshot wound.

While Gough's motion for a combined trial, which abandons a previous request to try the pair separately, is just one paragraph, Copeland's motion lists 10 points, most of which contend that trying the defendants together would prevent Lang from being treated fairly by a jury.

"Any evidence relating to the participation of the co-defendant (Elkins) in the alleged offenses, while perhaps admissible as to them, could very well be inadmissible when offered solely and directly against the defendant (Lang) or in its application by being an indirect influence on the jury against the defendant," Copeland's motion states.

Any statements made by Elkins that prosecutors may use against him are likely to incriminate Lang in the jury's eyes as well, Copeland alleges.

"Despite admonitions and cautionary instructions from the trial judge, the jury will attach and impute criminal liability to the defendant (Lang) from the statements of his co-defendant (Elkins) and thereby deny him a fair and impartial trial," Copeland wrote in her motion.

Copeland said Monday she is confident her motion for separate trials will be granted.

The severance motion is the first filed by Copeland in Lang's case, while Gough has filed more than 20, several of which request any and all evidence collected so far by police and prosecutors against Elkins.

Gough has said he needs to see the evidence to properly defend his client. Copeland, on the other hand, said she does not share Gough's concerns at this time.

Arraignments for both Elkins and Lang are scheduled for April 18 before Judge Stephen Kelley in Glynn County Superior Court. Copeland said Lang plans to enter a plea of not guilty.

Comments

LashLarkin 1 year, 8 months ago

Great to have state news. Hope you'll continue.

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