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Latest from Veronica Waters

    A man serving life for stabbing his girlfriend 36 times until she died just had his conviction tossed out by Georgia's Supreme Court. Recordings and notes from Craig Johnson’s six-day trial were destroyed in a 2011 fire at the home of the court reporter.  The court reporter had managed to transcribe many pages of the pretrial hearings, but not of the 2009 trial itself. Johnson's attempt to get a new trial, saying the lack of transcript denied him his constitutional right to appeal his malice murder conviction, was initially rejected by a lower court. WSB senior legal analyst Ron Carlson explains, “Both the U.S. Supreme Court and Georgia statutes guarantee the defendant a full transcript to work from. “In this case, the absence of that results in a new trial for a man who inflicted serious wounds on his victim.” Carlson adds, “An excuse that’s sometimes used is, ‘The dog ate my homework.’  “In this case, the homework was destroyed not by a dog, but by a fire. And the destruction of the raw material here provided the reason that Craig Johnson gets a new trial.” The Supreme Court dismissed a 14-page, double-spaced document that prosecutors purported was a complete recreation of what happened during the trial. “The state made a good college try here; tried to prepare a summary of what went on in the trial, but it was too little and too late,” Carlson says. 'We cannot hold that an appellant is not entitled to a complete trial transcript simply because it appears from the record that exists that he is clearly guilty,' Justice David Nahmias wrote in the court’s unanimous opinion. 'Because Johnson has been deprived of the ability to appeal his convictions, the trial court should have granted his motion for a new trial.' Lee County Chief Assistant District Attorney Lewis Lamb, who handled the appeal for the state, says he will retry the case. “The DA apparently feels confident that he can recreate enough of the evidence to convict Johnson again,” Carlson says. So why does this not count as double jeopardy for Craig Johnson? According to Carlson, “The double jeopardy clause does not prevent a second trial where there’s been a reversal on appeal. “If a conviction is voided on appeal by an appellate court, as occurred here, the state is entitled to subject the defendant to a retrial.” No word on a new trial date.
  • A new battle is brewing for DeKalb County’s embattled sheriff. Two sources confirm to WSB Radio that the Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, the group that certifies law enforcement personnel in Georgia, has voted to revoke the certification of DeKalb Sheriff Jeffrey Mann. Mann was arrested on an accusation of exposing himself in an Atlanta park back in May, then running from a policeman. In July, Mann accepted a plea agreement to misdemeanor charges of prohibited conduct and obstruction, and was sentenced to a fine, community service, and a six-month banishment from city parks. Even though state law says the vote takes 10 days to become official public record – to allow time for POST to inform the person – today’s committee and full council meetings were fully open to the public and media. Mann’s name was not mentioned in the meeting, only a case number. WSB Radio confirmed via sources that Mann’s case was one of the two on the agenda for revocation, and was present for the subsequent vote by the council, which was unanimous.  The vote does not mean Mann is suddenly being ousted from office. “Basically, what’s going on is the state of Georgia is trying to revoke his license to be a peace officer in the state,” says WSB legal analyst Phil Holloway. “If ultimately they succeed, it would result in his removal from office.”  But Holloway says Mann has the right to appeal, and he fully expects the sheriff to exercise that right.  Right now, Mann’s certification is fully intact. His appeal must be filed within 30 calendar days of his official notification by POST. “He could be sheriff pending appeals for quite some time,” says Holloway. “To appeal, he must file a written response under oath, admitting or denying every allegation POST is making. They may not be the same exact allegations that the City of Atlanta made against him in the criminal case.” Mann put himself on suspension for a week after the incident. He also served a 40-day suspension at the order of Gov. Deal. Despite the meetings being open, with television cameras rolling, two members of POST launched tirades against two media agencies for reporting the news of the vote before Mann’s official notification by the council. Those reporters tell WSB Radio that no one with POST asked any reporters to embargo the information to allow for time to notify the sheriff. As he concluded the meeting, POST Chairman and Coweta County Sheriff Mike Yeager added, “I think we all take it seriously when we have one of our own that something happens to and it goes wrong; we’ve got to handle the business. I think the people of this state expect us to handle that business.”  Holloway says the appeals process could stretch out for months – even years – because it begins with a state administrative hearing, but could eventually head to DeKalb County Superior Court and, theoretically, to the state Supreme Court. He says that the case could also be resolved along the way. “It is not uncommon at all for these matters to be resolved while an appeal is pending by some type of compromise,” says Holloway. “Sometimes that means that an officer’s certification is placed in a probationary status, or merely suspended as opposed to fully revoked.” Mann was re-elected in November of 2016. Holloway says if the case somehow ended up in the regular judicial system and stretched on for years, the POST vote might not be the one that is the final decision.  “It could very well be that the voters make this a moot point before his appeals are exhausted,” he says.
  • After collecting nearly 390 pounds of unwanted medicines last year, Fulton County is adding to its list of drug disposal boxes with a new one at the Union City Police Department – and more to come this year. Opioid-related deaths in Fulton County are up more than 150 percent since 2010. Fulton County commission vice chair Bob Ellis says simply tossing unused prescriptions in drug disposal boxes can prevent new addictions. “One of the biggest gateways to heroin addiction, is prescription pills,” Ellis tells WSB, “There’s an incredibly tight linkage.” He adds, “And we also know that sourcing of drugs, so many times, comes from unused prescription drugs that are sitting in people’s homes.” Teens abuse prescription drug more than any illicit street drug, except marijuana. “When you start to hear of a child that has oral surgery or has a sports injury,” Ellis says, “The next thing you know, life changed for the whole family and they’re an addict and they’re in prison, or they’re dead. “There’s that personal element that just sort of rips at you.” To find a box near you, click here.
  • The Cobb County police department is changing its use-of-force and firearms training following an officer-involved shooting that left a teenager with an injury to his upper thigh.  Newly released footage shows former officer James Caleb Elliot firing eight shots at a 16-year-old after the cop pulled him and three others over in a stolen car, according to a release from Cobb Co. officials.   Police told the AJC that Elliot was on a suspicious vehicle call last Novemeber when he discovered the car, driven by the teen, was involved in a carjacking and asked everyone inside to step out.  The teen, who has not been identified, stepped out of the car and ran from the scene, leading the officer on a chase.  Cobb Public Safety Training Captain Andy Hite says these things happen fast, but they will emphasize in training when it is legal for an officer to open fire on a suspect running away.  “After seeing the video, I would want to go back to Tennessee v. Gardner,” Hite tells WSB’s Veronica Waters. In this 1985 civil case, the U.S. Supreme Court held that, under the Fourth Amendment, an officer may not use deadly force on a fleeing suspect unless he or she has “probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.'    Hite says he would want to make sure that officers consider all the factors of each situation. “You have to consider your backdrop,” Hite explains. 'Was a weapon present? How fresh was the crime? What type of crime was committed?” While Hite says he is always reluctant to second-guess an officer, he believes waiting for backup would have been a better decision in Elliot’s case.  Hite adds that it is important that the actions of police do not become more dangerous than that of the fleeing suspect.  The department will also focus on community safety -- as the officer fired his gun in a residential neighborhood.  “We have coming soon, a new use-of-force simulator that’s being built now at our facility,” Hite says. “It has a 180-degree screen. Through the computer system, you can plug in specific situations like this and put those officers in that situation.   “With the technology now, it feels real.”  He adds, “That’s one of the best ways, in my opinion, we can train our officers to have muscle memory, so to speak, so that when they get in the situation in real life they make the proper decision.”   Asked how he felt after watching the video of the incident with former Cobb officer Elliot, Hite says, “I’ve been an officer of 22 years and anytime I see an officer pull his weapon and give pursuit alone, I cringe.  “It’s a very dangerous situation; it’s unfortunate, but it’s my job to make sure that we train our recruits to go out and handle those situations appropriately.  “That’s what we’re going to do here.”
  • While inside a Raceway gas station in Stockbridge, a local businessman had almost $52,000 stolen from him in a matter of seconds.  Major Hillard M. Ireland, with the Henry County Police Department, says even detectives were surprised at how fast this car break-in happened.  “We actually had to slow the video down to actually try to see what the suspect was doing,” Ireland tells WSB’s Veronica Waters.  With an item he had in his hand, one of the suspects broke the window of the victim’s car “with somewhat of an ease” and was gone in less than three seconds, Ireland says.  The victim of the robbery manages several businesses in the area, according to Ireland. “I’m pretty sure those businesses are hurting right now. Fifty-two thousand dollars is a lot of money,” he adds. The suspect driving the van, wearing a Levis t-shirt, was caught on video at several banking institutions following the victim.  Anyone with information about the incident or identification of the suspects, is asked to please contact Henry County Police Department at 770-288-8200 or 770-957-9121.
  • The video of a Tennessee SUV driver plowing into a bicyclist on the Natchez Trace, never stopping, was shocking to many. What may be more shocking is that the action in the video is so common, it has its own name.  Decatur attorney Bruce Hagen of bikelaw.com says it's called a 'punishment pass.'  'Certain drivers feel that they're going to take it upon themselves to punish somebody simply for being on a bike by buzzing them and coming very close or in this case, just taking them out,' Hagen tells WSB.  Hagen, who is also a frequent rider himself, says there is a lot of misplaced anger that some drivers have against bike riders--who are, he notes, legally allowed to share the road with motor vehicles. 'They'll throw things out the window at them. I've heard from a lot of friends and clients about having beer bottles, cans, and food and other things thrown out of cars at them by folks who were passing by, as well as shout all kinds of obscenities to them.  'But using your car as a weapon is the worst offense, and certainly the most dangerous thing that we see--and sadly, we see it all too often.' The Tennessee incident was shot by a camera on another cyclist's helmet. It shows one truck pass the riders easily, giving them a wide berth, before the second one veers to the right and hits the cyclist. That rider bounced to his feet and his injuries are reportedly non-life-threatening. The video helped lead to the arrest of the SUV's driver, 58-year-old Marshall Neely, III, who initially told police that someone had thrown a bicycle at him.  Hagen says he was 'furious' the first time he saw the video.  'He's intentionally trying to hit this guy and knock him down, which he does. 'This guy is a menace,' he says.  To listen to more of Veronica Waters’ interview with Hagen, click HERE. Mary Carol Harsch can't bring herself to watch the video. Her husband of 17 years, John Harsch, was a popular Henry County physician and avid cyclist. He was killed by a driver in April 2016. Dr. Harsch was out with a group of riders on Lower Woolsey Road and had stopped to help a cyclist who had fallen off of her bike, and they were slightly behind their group. Mrs. Harsch says John liked to ride around the Atlanta Motor Speedway because it is light on traffic, and safer. 'A driver came up behind him and never saw him. Never even put on his brakes. And my husband's head went through his windshield,' says Mrs. Harsch. He survived for a while. Weather was windy, she says, so flying him to Grady Memorial Hospital was not possible. He was transported by ambulance, and later died.  Harsch says it was proven that the driver was talking on the telephone at the time. He stopped and cooperated with police. This past March, Cleven Ingram pleaded guilty in Henry County to misdemeanor homicide by vehicle and improper passing of a bicycle. His sentence included two years' probation with 60 days to serve.  Mary Carol says John was serious about cycling and about safety, and that they had many discussions about the best times of day and places for him to ride. If it would be dark, he made sure he was well-lit. He tried early morning rides on country roads. He kept changes of clothes at work so he could travel by bike often. He helped teach biker safety in a training group. The irony, she says, is that he was doing everything right, and was still killed. 'I'll never let go of the idea that cell phones are so, so dangerous to have in your car, and that no one needs to be on their phone as long as they're behind the wheel. Not even hands-free,' Harsh says. 'Hands-free would be a good start, but just...it can wait.' Harsch says she believes the judge was fair in Ingram's sentencing. 'I also feel like the man that hit my husband has his own life sentence that I don't want to believe that any human being would ever get over that,' she says. Harsch says she could not fathom the idea that the Tennessee hit-and-run appeared to be deliberate--although the driver, Neely, has denied that. She says she would tell him, 'You need some help to understand what got you to that point that you would feel compelled to deliberately put someone's life at risk. Not just to maim them. I mean, that cyclist could have died instantly and that would have been the end of his life, and guess what? Probably yours, too.' To listen to more of Veronica Waters’ interview with Harsch, click HERE. Hagen contends that here in Georgia, the laws are not adequate when it comes to punishing people who injure people on bikes. He's advocating for a Vulnerable Road User Law, which would enhance the penalties for a negligent or reckless driver who harms someone who is not in a vehicle. 'Now, they're pretty weak, and it's treated like any other traffic offense,' Hagen says. 'In the absence of an aggravating factor like DUI, drugs, or a hit and run, somebody could kill a person on a bike and serve no more than a year in jail--and rarely do they even get sentenced to that. It's taking members of our society and saying that your lives don't matter...because you choose to be on a bike. It's a real dehumanizing thing.'  Hagen and Harsch urge drivers to take heed of the advice, 'Pass them like you love them.' It's an effort to encourage empathy among drivers by encouraging them to imagine that the bicyclist sharing the road with them is someone they care about--and then driving around them that way. 'If you understand that the person on that bike is a member of your community,' says Hagen, 'they are a father, a mother, a brother, a daughter, they're human beings who have lives and families, and you treat them as such, hopefully that just gives you the compassion and the patience to just say, 'Alright. I will take my time and safely pass them.''  'First and foremost, it is their legal right to be on the road,' says Harsch. 'Pass them like you love them because there are people that do love them. That could be your sister, brother, husband, uncle, child, whomever, on the bicycle. Just pass them delicately like it's a person that you care about. They're just going about their business.'  Georgia law says drivers in a motor vehicle have to leave at least three feet of distance when passing someone on a bike. Hagen urges leaving five or 10 feet, if possible--or just waiting patiently.  'Really, that 15 seconds that you might be delayed, how awful really is that for you, compared with the idea that you're going to allow somebody to safely get to work, get to school, or ride for recreation.' Watching the video from Tennessee, Hagen pointed out that it is also legal to pass a bike rider over a double yellow line, as long as it can be done safely. Bike safety is in the spotlight even more now in Atlanta, as the city launched a bike share program in the summer of 2016. Relay Bike Share gives users the ability to pick up a cruiser at one of more than five dozen locations. MARTA has also partnered with Relay Bike Share, installing bike racks and repair stands at 37 train stations, except for the airport. Each repair stand has bike maintenance tools and tire pumps, and of the new bike racks are located within the fare gates, protected from the elements and under surveillance.  Mary Carol Harsch's grief is still raw, but she says it's important for her to use any opportunity she can to speak up for cyclist safety for her late husband and for other riders out there. 'I will say to one of my sisters, 'John's not coming back, right? He's really not coming back.' So it's still hard for me to believe,' she says, her voice breaking, 'but I would never be able to do this had he not given me the strength and made me the person that I am prior to my losing him.' 
  • A top surgeon in metro Atlanta says he sees an uptick in calls after the Fourth of July – not just because of runners from the Peachtree Road Race, but because of firecrackers.  “I’ve seen several people who’ve lost multiple fingers,” Orthopedic hand surgeon Dr. Craig Weil tells WSB.  When it comes to who is getting hurt by fireworks, you could probably guess a chunk of the demographic.   “About 25 percent of injuries, at least, are boys under 15,” Dr. Weil says.   To listen to a clip from Veronica Waters’ interview with Dr. Weil, click HERE. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission says males ages 10-19 accounted for 61 percent of the fireworks-related hospitalizations in 2016. The year before, men and boys made up 76 percent of those hospitalizations.  Weil adds that both minor and devastating injuries are often prompted by bravado, and he is surprised at what some ‘wannabe’ daredevils think is all in good fun.  “You’re always shocked when someone says, ‘Yeah, I thought I would see what it was like to hold a firecracker between my fingers,’” Weil says. “And you see the blast injuries that lose part of their fingertips, or lose the skin, or have deep burns from these firecrackers that they held to show off or whatever. It can be pretty remarkable that people would consider that even a possibility.  “Or they've thrown fireworks at their friend and they've injured them somewhere.”   The most common fireworks injuries are to the finger, wrist, or hand. Weil says people can suffer burns and eye injuries from fireworks injuries, too, leading to shrapnel and paper embedded deep in their skin and tissue.   Weil says many cases require multiple surgeries and hospitalizations which often cost someone tens of thousands of dollars a pop – no pun intended – to salvage fingers or keep patients from living without a thumb.   'It would be something you'd have to have reconstructed, and that's why sometimes we have to do toe-to-hand transfers and so forth,' Weil says. 'They can be quite functional, but that's not something you want to contend with.” Fireworks were blamed in 11,100 hospital visits in 2016, resulting in four deaths.
  • This year, the Jean R. Amos United Service Organization Center is celebrating its 40th anniversary at the Atlanta airport. Opened July 1, 1977, the USO facility is designed as a haven for traveling service members and their families. It was the first-ever USO designed as a component of an American airport.
  • As the case of the accused NSA leaker in Augusta moves forward, WSB learns that in the interest of 'national security,' we may never know what Reality Winner saw.  Winner, a 25-year-old National Security Agency federal contractor with top secret security clearance and a specialty in linguistics, is facing a single charge in connection with mailing a news website (The Intercept) a classified document that details one of the ways Russia tried to hack the U. S. election systems in order to help Donald Trump win.  The cyberattack came just days before the November election day. The document says that Russian military intelligence (the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate) targeted a voting software manufacturer, then sent voter-registration-themed phishing e-mails to more than 100 elections officials.  Winner was in court for a status conference on Tuesday, June 27. Her parents, who live in Texas, were not at the hearing.   Government prosecutors say some of the evidence from Winner's home and office is so sensitive, the judge and Winner's lawyers will have to get security clearances just to be on the case to see the classified documents.  Atlanta criminal defense attorney Steve Sadow, not tied to this case, was granted such a security clearance years ago. He says the FBI screens the attorneys and the people working with them to make sure that they are not a risk of disclosure in terms of extortion or blackmail that a foreign power or other entity could use against them.  'Let's say the attorney has a history of drug use, or gambling problems, or things that have come up in the questions involving the Trump administration and Michael Flynn.  “Things that might give rise to a blackmailer in which the attorney is told, 'If you don't reveal information which is confidential to the government foreign entity, we will disclose information about your background or your activities, which may subject you to criminal prosecution or you may use the right to practice law,'' explains Sadow.  'The government doesn't want to take that chance.'  Sadow agrees that it is essentially putting your entire personal and professional life under a microscope.  'I can remember they asked some of my best friends – because they asked for information about people that they could contact – they wanted to know whether I was the kind of person that could be blackmailed, or extorted, or did I have anything in my history that would give rise to government concerns,' says Sadow. 'I'm assuming the same thing is taking place with the case in Augusta.'  Once the screenings are done and Winner's lawyers, Titus Nichols and John Bell, and federal judge Brian Epps, have clearances, Sadow says the defense cannot be afraid to step on toes.  “The defense attorney needs to be willing to put himself on the line and aggressively take on the government, because in a case of this nature, the government's goal here is to set an example so that other people don't do this,” says Sadow. 'The attorney has got to push the envelope. Sometimes that puts into play something called ‘graymail’.'  To listen to a clip from Veronica Waters’ interview with Steve Sadow, click HERE. Judge Brian Epps has installed a classified information security officer (CISO) in Winner's leak case who will help with any motions or orders connected to the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA).  The CISO is meant to help prevent “graymail”, in which a defendant tries to leverage a better position or get charges dropped by threatening to expose more confidential government information.  Sadow says that is why the CISO is a de-facto censor, essentially helping the prosecution.  “That person serves the role of making sure, to be perfectly candid, that nothing the government doesn’t like gets out into the public without the government having had the opportunity to go into court and - I say - ‘b**** about it’ before it gets released,” Sadow says.  Sadow adds that because the government wants to make an example of Winner, they will work to control what the public can see, and what the defense can say.  “No one is suggesting that the information that’s been disclosed isn’t something the public is interested in or should’ve known about,” Sadow explains. “What the government is saying is, ‘Wait. We didn’t make the decision to disclose it, and even though maybe the public should’ve known – that’s our call, not her call.’”  And with things being so secret, says Sadow, 'The public hasn't got a clue about what really is going on because it's been censored.'   The government has seized Winner's computers, mobile phones, and notebooks. There is also a note pad with handwriting in Farsi that they are translating, says the prosecution. Court papers also reveal that they have recovered more classified documents from Winner that are not tied to what she allegedly mailed. They have not said whether these are documents that she had access to in her job.  Sadow says a judge or a lawyer without a lot of experience in classified cases could find themselves being led along by what the government contends is 'standard' in these types of instances.  “The defense has to push that ‘graymail’,” Sadow says. “That may get him into an adversarial situation with the court, with the prosecution.  “The attorney has really got to stand his or her ground because if not, under CIPA, and the way these classified information cases are worked, the defendant and his lawyer wind up getting stampeded.”  Sadow adds, “They just become afraid to take on the government and whenever a defense attorney’s in that posture, they need to get out of the case.”  Winner has pleaded not guilty to a sole charge of 'willful retention and transmission of national defense information.' In a June 8 hearing, Judge Epps denied her bond.  In that hearing, a prosecutor said that during her time in the Air Force, Winner put a flash drive into a secure computer in what appeared to be a dry run of sorts, having searched the Internet for information on what happens when you put a flash drive into a classified computer system. The location of that flash drive, or whether anything is on it, is a mystery to prosecutors and a stated concern of Judge Epps' when denying her bail.  Attorneys agreed to have all of the evidence discovery filed by August 25. The court is also looking for a place to store the classified information securely.  Winner's tentative trial date is October 23.   If convicted, Winner faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines, plus up to three years of supervised release and a $100 special assessment.
  • The World's Busiest Airport is nailing down plans to keep a record-breaking crowd moving swiftly and safely this Fourth of July holiday weekend.  Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta is on track to break its own one-day record for passenger screenings, which was just set over the Memorial Day weekend.   'We're expecting June 30 to be our busiest travel day. Over 90,000 people will come through these passenger screening checkpoints just that day in itself,' says Richard Duncan, the airport's assistant general manager for public safety. 'This will set another record for us.'   And that's just through the TSA checkpoints. The rest of the airport will also be teeming with travelers.  'We expect to see a few million pass through the airport during the entire weekend,' says Andrew Gobeil, deputy director of policy and communications.  On a typical day, anywhere from 60,000 to 80,000 passengers go through security, says Gobeil.  Duncan says they have the ability to flex their operations so that Hartsfield-Jackson can open and staff more screening lanes during busy times. They expect three peaks throughout the day--one each in the morning, afternoon, and early evening. The goal is to move people through the checkpoints in 20 minutes or less. Duncan says the automated screening lanes that opened in May has helped speed the process.  'If someone is getting frustrated because it takes longer, I'd just ask them, have a little patience. We will get you through the process and onward to your destination.'  Duncan's primary focus is on the many layers of airport security. While some public safety directives take place proactively behind the scenes, he says fliers will see a larger number of armed law enforcement over the July 4th weekend.  'Just the presence of people in uniform makes people feel a little bit more comfortable about being here, and we also want to be able to respond to any types of emergencies,' says Duncan. 'We want to have the police officers present so that they will prevent some individual from trying to do something. It may be a deterrent to someone coming in if they see the law enforcement officers. So it serves as a deterrent and also a protective comfort for the people doing the traveling themselves.'   Duncan also reminds holiday fliers not to try to bring fireworks with them, whether in a carry-on or in checked baggage. 'It happens,' says Duncan, of travelers attempting to fly with fireworks, but they are viewed as a safety hazard by the Federal Aviation Administration and therefore are banned.  'Buy those at your destination,' says Duncan.
  • Veronica Waters

    Reporter

    Veronica Waters is an anchor and reporter for News/Talk WSB. She is also the staff expert on legal affairs and the courts. In 2007, the Radio-Television News Directors Association named Waters' series on "Snaring Internet Predators" best in the region with an Edward R. Murrow award for Investigative Reporting.She has been honored by several professional organizations for news and sports feature reporting, and was named in 2003 as the Atlanta Press Club's Radio Journalist of the Year. Waters has covered an assortment of high-profile cases from Mayor Bill Campbell's corruption trial to the murder trials of activist-turned imam Jamil Al-Amin and of former DeKalb County, GA Sheriff Sidney Dorsey.She served as the station's correspondent for the murder trial of accused "Black Widow" Lynn Turner, and the death penalty case of double murderer Stacey Humphreys. One of the biggest legal cases in Atlanta history involved the notorious Gold Club racketeering trial. Waters covered this unfolding drama not only for WSB Radio and radio stations throughout America, but also for a worldwide audience on BBC Radio. Waters joined WSB in 1997 as an anchor and reporter. She began her journalism career at the Southern Urban Network and Mississippi Network in Jackson, MS. Waters attended Alcorn State University and Mississippi State University, and enjoys cheering for the NFL's Tennessee Titans.

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  • The organ transplant of a 2-year-old boy who was born without a kidney will likely be stalled for months. The reason? His father’s latest arrest. Anthony Dickerson, 26, is no stranger to the criminal justice system. He has been in and out of jail on misdemeanor theft charges and a first-degree forgery charge since 2011, according to Gwinnett County jail records. Just this month, he was released on a $2,600 bond on charges of fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer and possession of a firearm or knife during the commission of attempted felonies. But Dickerson promised that his son would be the one thing he did right in his life, the child’s mother, Carmellia Burgess, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. So when he found out he was a match to donate his kidney to Anthony Jr., he jumped at the chance to help. The family was “hysterical” when they found out the day of the planned surgery Oct. 3 that Emory University Hospital had changed the plan. “They’re making this about dad,” Burgess said. “It’s not about dad. It’s about our son.” In a letter The AJC obtained from Burgess, a hospital official said the surgery would be pushed back until Dickerson could provide evidence he has complied with his parole officer for three months. “We will re-evaluate Mr. Dickerson in January 2018 after receipt of this completed documentation,” the hospital representative said in the letter. Emory officials refused to answer The AJC’s questions about the decision or its policies, and Gwinnett law enforcement agencies have not responded to requests for comment. Janet Christenbury, an Emory spokeswoman, said in a statement the hospital is committed to the highest quality of care for its patients.  “Guidelines for organ transplantation are designed to maximize the chance of success for organ recipients and minimize risk for living donors,” Christenbury said. “Because of privacy regulations and respect for patient confidentiality, we cannot share specific information about our patients.” Burgess said news of the hospital’s decision caught her by surprise because Emory had earlier been supportive of the dad being the donor. The hospital even requested Dickerson’s temporary release from jail, according to a letter from Emory’s Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program to the Gwinnett County jail where Dickerson was being held. “If Mr. Dickerson could be escorted to Emory for blood work and a pre-operative appointment tomorrow, September 29, we will be able to continue with the scheduled surgery,” an Emory official said in the letter dated Sept. 28. Even though jail records show Dickerson was released Oct. 2, the child’s surgery has not been rescheduled for this year. Burgess created a web petition to urge the hospital to allow the surgery sooner. It has garnered more than 18,400 signatures, but Burgess said she doubts the petition will make a difference. A GoFundMe page also was set up with a $1,000 goal. “I’m just taking it day by day,” she said. “That’s all we can do.” In other news:
  • British police are investigating three new allegations of sexual assault against film producer Harvey Weinstein, all made by the same woman. In another blow to the Hollywood titan after he was ejected from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, France's president said Sunday he was working to rescind Weinstein's prestigious Legion of Honor award. In the new British allegations, London's Metropolitan Police force said Sunday that the woman reported being assaulted in London in 2010, 2011 and 2015. The force said officers from its Child Abuse and Sexual Offenses Command are investigating. The woman's name has not been made public. The force also did not name Weinstein, in keeping with its policy of not identifying suspects who have not been charged. But it said the allegations involve a man against whom another accusation was made Wednesday. That alleged assault — reported to have taken place in west London during the late 1980s — also is being investigated. British actress Lysette Anthony says she reported to police on Wednesday that Weinstein raped her in her west London home in the late 1980s. Anthony, 54, who appears on the British soap opera 'Hollyoaks,' told the Sunday Times newspaper that Weinstein raped her in the late 1980s after showing up at her London home. She said she was left feeling 'disgusted and embarrassed' after the attack. 'It was pathetic, revolting,' she was quoted as saying in a Thursday interview. 'I remember lying in the bath later and crying.' Dozens of women have made allegations of sexual harassment and assault against the movie mogul in recent days, some dating back decades. Weinstein denies non-consensual sexual activity. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences took the almost unprecedented step Saturday of revoking Weinstein's membership. It said it did so 'to send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over.' Weinstein, who backed many British movies including 'Shakespeare in Love' and 'The King's Speech,' also has been suspended by the British film academy. The fallout from the multiplying accusations against Weinstein also reverberated in France on Sunday. French President Emmanuel Macron said he had 'started the procedures' to revoke Weinstein's Legion of Honor award. Rescinding the honor is rare, although it also happened to another American: disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong. Weinstein was given the prestigious French award in 2012 by then-President Nicolas Sarkozy after the French film 'The Artist' won multiple Oscars. Weinstein's company produced the film, and he predicted in an interview with The Associated Press at the time that it would augur a new 'golden age' of French cinema. French actresses are among those who have accused Weinstein of sexual wrongdoing, notably during his multiple appearances at the Cannes Film Festival. Macron said he wants to speed up procedures for investigating and prosecuting sexual harassment in France to encourage more women to come forward. ___ Angela Charlton in Paris contributed.
  • The Latest on the explosion in Somalia's capital (all times local): 7:30 a.m. Qatar's foreign minister says his country's diplomatic mission in Somalia was hit by the massive truck bombing in Mogadishu. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said on Twitter early Monday morning: 'The attack on (hashtag)Qatar diplomatic mission in Mogadishu will not deter our support for (hashtag)Somalia's democracy, security and stability.' He did not elaborate. It was unclear if any Qataris were hurt in the blast. Officials in Doha did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Somalia has found itself torn by the boycott by four Arab nations of Qatar. Saudi Arabia is the Somali government's biggest benefactor, while the United Arab Emirates has trained the country's military and launched a high-profile aid appeal this year. Somalia has meanwhile allowed Qatari aircraft to increasingly fly through its airspace as Arab nations have closed theirs off. A Somali state in September broke with Somalia's central government in Mogadishu, saying it backed the boycotting nations. ___ Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. ___ 12:45 a.m. Somalia's information minister Abdirahman Osman says the death toll from Saturday's truck bombing in Mogadishu has risen to 276, with about 300 people injured. It is the deadliest single attack in Somalia's history. The toll is expected to rise. Somalia's government has blamed the al-Shabab extremist group, which has not yet commented. ___ 12:40 a.m. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he is 'sickened' by the deadliest single attack in Somalia's history. Guterres in a tweet Sunday night urged 'unity in the face of terrorism.' Saturday's truck bombing in Mogadishu killed at least 231 people. Another 275 are hurt. Somalia's government has blamed the al-Shabab extremist group, which has not yet commented. Officials fear the death toll will rise. ___ 10:05 p.m. The United States is condemning 'in the strongest terms' the deadliest single attack in Somalia's history. The State Department statement expresses condolences to victims and wishes a quick recovery for the injured. Saturday's truck bombing in Mogadishu killed at least 231 people. Another 275 are hurt. The U.S. calls the attack 'senseless and cowardly' and says it will stand with Somalia in its fight against extremism. ___ 6:35 p.m. Qatar says its embassy was 'severely damaged' in the deadly truck bombing in Somalia's capital. A foreign ministry statement Sunday says the embassy's charge d'affaires was 'slightly injured in the explosion but he is now in a good health, and the rest of staff are fine.' Saturday's blast killed at least 231 people. It is the deadliest ever attack in the Horn of Africa nation. ___ 5:50 p.m. The United Nations special envoy to Somalia calls the deadly truck bombing in the capital 'revolting' and says an unprecedented number of civilians have been killed. A statement from Michael Keating says: 'I am shocked and appalled by the number of lives that were lost in the bombings and the scale of destruction they caused.' Saturday's blast struck a densely populated neighborhood of Mogadishu. The death toll has risen to 231. It is the deadliest ever attack in the Horn of Africa nation. Keating says the U.N. and African Union are supporting the Somali government's response with 'logistical support, medical supplies and expertise.' ___ 5:45 p.m. The U.S. Africa Command says U.S. forces have not been asked to provide aid following Saturday's deadly attack in Somalia's capital. A U.S. Africa Command spokesman tells The Associated Press that first responders and local enforcement would handle the response and 'the U.S. would offer assistance if and when a request was made.' A Somali senator says the death toll from the massive truck bomb blast in Mogadishu has risen to 231, with 275 people injured. It is the deadliest ever attack in the Horn of Africa nation. ___ 5:35 p.m. Angry protesters have taken to the streets in Somalia's capital a day after a massive truck bomb killed at least 231 people. The protesters who gathered at the scene of the blast are chanting against the attack, the deadliest ever in the Horn of Africa nation. The government has blamed the Somalia-based al-Shabab extremist group for what it calls a 'national disaster.' Al-Shabab has not commented but often targets Mogadishu with bombings. ___ 5:20 p.m. A senator says the death toll from a massive truck bomb blast in Somalia's capital has risen to 231. Abshir Abdi Ahmed says 275 others were injured. He cites doctors at hospitals he has visited in Mogadishu. Saturday's blast is the single deadliest attack ever in the Horn of Africa nation. Many of the bodies in hospital mortuaries are yet to be identified. ___ 3:05 p.m. Local journalists say one freelance journalist was killed in Saturday's massive bombing in Somalia's capital and several were injured. Voice of America says one of its reporters, Abdulkaidr Mohamed Abdulle, is among the injured. Police and hospital sources say the death toll from the truck bomb in Mogadishu has risen to 189 in what is the single deadliest attack ever in the Horn of Africa nation. — Abdi Guled in Mogadishu. ___ 2:35 p.m. The death toll from a massive explosion in Somalia's capital has risen to 189 with over 200 others injured, police and hospital sources say, making it the single deadliest attack ever in the Horn of Africa nation. Doctors are struggling to assist hundreds of horrifically wounded victims, with many burnt beyond recognition. Somalia's government has blamed Saturday's truck bombing in Mogadishu on the al-Shabab extremist group, which has not commented. — Abdi Guled in Mogadishu. ___ 1:25 p.m. The United States is joining the condemnation of Saturday's massive truck bombing in Somalia's capital that left scores dead. A statement by the U.S. mission to Somalia says that 'such cowardly attacks reinvigorate the commitment of the United States to assist our Somali and African Union partners to combat the scourge of terrorism.' The U.S. military this year has stepped up drone strikes and other efforts this year against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab, which is based in Somalia and often targets Mogadishu. ___ 1:20 p.m. The International Committee of the Red Cross says four volunteers with the Somali Red Crescent Society are among the dead after a huge truck bombing in Somalia's capital. A statement Sunday says 'this figure may rise as there are a number of volunteers still missing.' Security and medical sources say at least 53 people are dead after what Mogadishu residents call the largest explosion they've ever witnessed. Officials have pleaded for blood donations. More than 60 people are injured. Somalia's government has blamed the al-Shabab extremist group, which has not commented. ___ 10:45 a.m. Security and medical sources say the death toll from Saturday's truck bomb blast in Somalia's capital has risen to 53 as hospitals struggle to cope with the high number of casualties. More than 60 others are injured. Police Capt. Mohamed Hussein says many victims died at hospitals from their wounds. Somalia's government has yet to release the exact death toll from an explosion many called the most powerful they had ever witnessed in Mogadishu. Ambulance sirens still echo across the city as bewildered families wander in the rubble of buildings. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has joined thousands of people who responded to a desperate plea by hospitals to donate blood for the wounded victims. The al-Shabab extremist group often targets high-profile areas in the capital with bombings.
  • The Latest on President Donald Trump's speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation (all times EDT): 7:40 p.m. President Donald Trump is using his appearance in front of a conservative think tank to argue the U.S. should celebrate and preserve its history, 'not tear it down.' Trump is pointing to a movement to take down Confederate status as well as other symbols of the country's difficult past. He says, 'Now they're even trying' to take down statues of Christopher Columbus. He asks, 'What's next?' Trump also says young Americans should be taught to honor the flag and national anthem and proudly recite the Pledge of Allegiance. He tells the group, 'You understand that our glorious heritage is the foundation of everything we hope to achieve.' __ 7:25 p.m. President Donald Trump is taking his tax plan sales pitch to the conservative Heritage Foundation. Trump is expected to tell the group's President's Club on Tuesday evening that his plan will be a boon to the economy, resulting in a $4,000 pay raise for the average American. That claim has been met with skepticism from tax experts and Democratic lawmakers who say the administration's math is flawed. Trump is also expected to talk about other issues important to the group, including the Constitution, his appointment of conservative judges, border security and his 'peace through strength' foreign policy approach. That's according to a senior administration official who previewed the speech earlier Tuesday on condition that he not be named.
  • A 19-year-old man from Kerrville, Texas, who is a relative of the boy and was visiting family in Lynnwood, Washington, has been booked into the Snohomish County Jail for first-degree murder of 6-year-old Dayvid Pakko. >> Read more trending news A police statement alleges the 19-year-old admitted to filling a bathtub with water with the intention of drowning Dayvid, then called the boy to the bathroom, picked him up and placed him face-down in the water, and held his head underneath for approximately 30 seconds before Dayvid became still. The statement from police then alleges the 19-year-old left the boy face down in the water for approximately six minutes before he wrapped the boy's body in a blanket and placed him in a cardboard box, which he used to dispose of the body in the nearest garbage dumpster.  'It's a tragic ending to a long search operation,' said Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Shari Ireton. Authorities said the body was found about 2 a.m. Tuesday in a dumpster at the Bristol Square Apartment complex on 44th Avenue West. The body was found by officers with the Violent Offenders Task Force. In cases of missing children, the officers, who represent several law enforcement agencies, are deployed to check on registered sex offenders in the area. That's when they found the child's body. Detectives are working on getting a search warrant and are processing the crime scene, where they're expected to be working for several hours.  Once a search warrant is obtained, detectives will go through the apartment building and dumpster for evidence. The boy was reported missing about 5 p.m. Monday. Crews, including 100 volunteers, searched the area of 44th Avenue West between 156th Street and State Route 99, just outside the Lynnwood city limits. According to the Sheriff’s Office and relatives, Dayvid stayed home sick from school Monday.  The boy lives with his mother, who was at work when he disappeared. He was last seen about 2:30 p.m. The Sheriff's Office said Dayvid was under adult supervision while he was at home, but did not say who he was with. The Snohomish County medical examiner will determine the boy's cause of death.
  • Northern California homeowners allege in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that Pacific Gas & Electric Co. failed to adequately protect its power lines before the region's deadly wildfires, a theory that state investigators are considering as they try to determine the cause. The lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court on behalf of Santa Rosa homeowners Wayne and Jennifer Harvell says drought-like conditions over the summer put fire dangers 'at an extraordinarily high level,' particularly after heavy winter rains increased vegetation. It says PG&E failed to trim and remove vegetation as it should have. PG&E Corp., the utility's parent company, said Friday that the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection was investigating its power lines and equipment as a possible cause of the fires that have killed at least 41 people and destroyed 6,000 homes. The California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates PG&E, would investigate only if state fire investigators determine that that the utility's equipment is suspected as a cause. That could lead to significant fines and penalties. The San Francisco-based utility said it would not speculate on causes of the fire and that it was cooperating with investigators. PG&E says it has told state regulators of seven incidents of damage to its equipment, including downed power lines and broken poles. It did not say whether they may have caused or contributed to the fire. Gerald Singleton, an attorney representing other homeowners and renters, said winds were strong but PG&E should have anticipated them. 'We can't get rid of all possible risks,' he said. 'It really is based on reasonableness — and that is what their duty is.' PG&E shares jumped 7.5 percent, or $4.01, to close at $57.44 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday. Still, the shares are down 17 percent since Wednesday. Earlier this year, the utility commission fined PG&E $8.3 million for failing to maintain a power line that sparked a massive blaze in Northern California that destroyed 549 homes and killed two people. A state fire investigation found the utility and its contractors failed to maintain a gray pine tree that slumped into a power line igniting the September 2015 fire in Amador County. Previously, California regulators fined PG&E $1.6 billion for 2010 natural gas explosion in the San Francisco Bay Area city of San Bruno that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes. Also Tuesday, U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris of California wrote the Federal Communications Commission to express concern that the federal government has yet to adopt rules that would require wireless carriers to more precisely target neighborhoods with orders to evacuate. As fires rapidly spread Oct. 8, authorities sought to avoid alarming unaffected residents. 'These emergency services are caught in a bind between notifying individuals in imminent danger and risking mass panic. As a result, these services are compelled to rely on emergency messaging systems with far less reach and far less capacity,' they wrote.