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News
Bond denied for ‘Baseball Wife’ Benson
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Bond denied for ‘Baseball Wife’ Benson

Bond denied for ‘Baseball Wife’ Benson
Photo Credit: Bob Andres
In a navy jail suit, Anna Benson, 37, sat quietly Thursday afternoon in Cobb County Superior Court as her attorney asked Judge LaTain Kell to grant $50,000 bond, along with numerous stipulations, including psychological evaluation and treatment. Benson has been in jail since July 7, when she was arrested after allegedly threatening her husband, armed with several weapons, at his Smyrna home.

Bond denied for ‘Baseball Wife’ Benson

Her attorney asked for $50,000 bond, along with an ankle monitor and psychological treatment for the estranged wife of former big league pitcher Kris Benson.

But a Cobb County Superior Court judge denied that request Friday, meaning Anna Benson will have to stay in jail. Judge LaTain Kell issued his decision one day after Benson appeared in court, citing violations in a previous court order out of Forsyth County.

“Despite the Court’s order that Defendant vacate the marital residence, she allegedly returned to the home with a handgun, ammunition, a knife, and a metal baton and threatened her estranged spouse and demanded money from him,” Kell wrote in his decision. “There was no evidence presented that the domestic circumstances which preceded these alleged events have changed.”

A Cobb County Grand Jury indicted her Thursday on an assortment assault and burglary charges before her court appearance. Kell requested the indictment before issuing his decision.

In a navy jail suit, Anna Benson, 37, sat quietly Thursday afternoon while her attorney asked Kell to grant bond with numerous stipulations. Benson has been in jail since July 7, when she was arrested after allegedly threatening her husband while armed with several weapons at his Smyrna home.

Prosecutors contend that Benson is a threat to others and should not be released. She was indicted for criminal attempt to commit armed robbery, burglary in the first degree, two counts of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during commission of a felony.

Kell said he needed to see the indictment and needed additional information on the psychological treatment the defense is proposing before he could make a decision on bond. Kell did not indicate how soon he expected to make a decision, but attorneys on both sides agreed to provide needed documentation quickly.

On the night of July 7, Anna Benson was heavily armed when she broke into her husband’s home and demanded $30,000, police previously said.

Officers arrived at the 1160 block of Drewsbury Court to find Benson, star of the VH-1 reality series, “Baseball Wives,” wearing a bullet proof vest and an ammunition belt containing several rounds. She had a “Batman” knife in her waistband, a police-issue baton in her hands and a revolver in her purse, according to the incident report.

Assistant DA Don Geary said Benson was just trying to scare her husband, but had a weapon “designed to blow holes in things.” Kris Benson, Geary said, feared for his life and called police while hiding outside.

She was arrested the night of the incident and has been held the past 24 days without bond at the Cobb County jail.

Anna Benson’s attorney, Rick Christian, told the court it was an isolated incident of domestic violence.

Kris Benson filed for divorce from his wife in March 2012 in Forsyth County, where the couple previously lived, records show. Their divorce has not yet been finalized. The couple has three children together.

On May 30, Forsyth County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Bagley issued an order for Anna Benson to vacate the Smyrna home by June 3.

“She had no problem intimidating a witness. She went after him with a gun,” Geary said. “She had no problem committing a felony.”

Her current charges are the first felonies she’s faced in Georgia. But Benson was charged in 1996 in Tennessee with murder, a charge that was later dismissed. Her attorney said Thursday she isn’t a flight risk and, if released from jail, she will be make her upcoming court appearances in Forsyth and Cobb counties.

“Judge, she’s not a threat,” Christian said. “She takes one wrong step, she’s knows she’s going back to jail.”

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News

  • A Gwinnett County family is trying to make sense of the murder of their husband and father outside their home in a Buford subdivision overnight Thursday. The victim, identified as 43-year-old George Young, was shot dead right outside his own front door. He had just come home from working a security job and his keys were still in the front door when he was shot twice. “I heard two loud gunshots,” says his wife Tia. “At first, I thought it was gunshots, but I wasn’t sure what it was. I wasn’t sure if it was firecrackers.” Her brother, who was asleep on the couch, heard it too. He opened the door to find Young lying on the front porch. “I never heard a car speed off. My brother didn’t either,” says Tia. Gwinnett Police detectives told the woman it does not appear to have been a robbery. “We don’t know where the gunshots came from--whether they came from the porch or came from the street. But our ultimate motive, right now, is to figure out what other people heard,” says Cpl. Michele Pihera. She is asking anyone with information to come forward to police. Tia and her husband had been married close to 23 years and she wonders how she will continue alone raising their three sons. “I lost my dad a few years back to suicide, and I didn’t think it could any worse. But losing a spouse like this, I think it tops that,” she says.
  • His book called gay people 'vile.' Now, a federal judge says she may rule within the next month whether the city of Atlanta fired its fire chief over his religious views.  Kelvin Cochran lost his job in January of 2015, after self-publishing the book 'Who Told You That You Were Naked?' It includes passages that referred to homosexuality as 'vile, vulgar and inappropriate' and akin to 'bestiality.' When concern was raised about the book in late November 2014, Cochran was suspended for 30 days. His lawyer, Kevin Theriot, contends the chief was punished for his religious faith, but attorneys for the city argued that it was Cochran's actions during his suspension while an investigation was underway that got him ousted. City lawyer David Gevertz pointed out that Cochran had been directed to not make public comments about his suspension, but instead helped launch a PR campaign with the Georgia Baptist Convention that resulted in thousands of angry e-mails being sent to City Hall. 'We did not fire Chief Cochran because of his religious beliefs,' said Atlanta Chief Counsel Robert Godfrey. 'It was about trust. It was about his campaign to have people contact the mayor and things like that afterwards.' Theriot contends that Mayor Kasim Reed's public statements and social media posts contradict that, including one in which Reed made clear that he did not share the anti-gay views expressed in Cochran's book. The lawsuit points out that there were 'zero instances of discrimination' by Cochran against any employees, and so Theriot says the rest of what the city says is a pretext. 'There are a few isolated passages that they take out of context to try to depict Chief as being hateful, when in fact, Chief Cochran's beliefs require him to treat everybody equally--and the only evidence before the court is that what he always did,' says Theriot. Theriot acknowledged that some copies of Cochran's book were given to men on the job, but he insists they were from people who asked for it and/or shared similar beliefs as the chief. Gevertz pointed out in court that the book created a hostile work environment and could leave the city open to lawsuits from disgruntled employees or unsuccessful candidates once the views of Cochran, a member of the mayor's cabinet, were known publicly. Cochran's lawsuit seeks back pay after his suspension and termination, as well as reinstatement. He has also filed a separate complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Cochran says his childhood dream was to become a fire chief, and he says the discrimination and racial slurs experienced in his early years working in Louisiana combined to make him vow that if he were ever in a position of authority, no one would face discrimination because they were a minority under his leadership. Yet, he says, that is why the city terminated him. 'I was shocked that writing a book encouraging Christian men to be the husbands and fathers and men that God had called us to be would jeopardize my 34-year career,' said Cochran on Friday. 'It's still unthinkable to me that the very faith and patriotism that inspired my professional achievements and drove me to treat all people with love, equity, and justice, are actually what the government used to end my childhood dream-come-true career. 'In the United States of America, true tolerance should be a two-way street for all Americans,' Cochran continued. 'No one deserves to be marginalized or driven out of their profession because of their faith.' U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May grilled lawyers on both sides with questions about the cases they cited in support of their arguments, and says she will write a detailed analysis and likely issue a ruling in about three weeks. The attorneys are seeking summary judgment, meaning they are asking the judge to decide the case. If she cannot rule on every issue raised, says Judge May, the Cochran case will go to trial on the ones she cannot resolve, putting the questions in the hands of a jury. A trial would likely be held next spring. Any jury pool will likely include some people like Tonya Ditty, who tells WSB that she has been a longtime supporter of Cochran since the case began in 2014. She attended Friday's hearing and says she was also at a rally at the state Capitol for him. Ditty says she is concerned about 'the trampling of religious rights,' no matter what religion. 'When our Founders wrote the Bill of Rights, they did not pick a religion,' says Ditty. 'This is fitting for everyone. I think that often is said that, 'Oh, the Christians just want protection.' This is for any religion. I don't think it's ever been stated that we are trying just to protect Christians.' Ditty, who says she is a Christian, says people of faith are being stifled. 'I either have to live out my faith in church or in my home, but dare me come out into the marketplace of ideas, and then I'm under attack,' she says.
  • A Montana congressman misled investigators about his assault on a reporter the day before he was elected and claimed that the 'liberal media' was 'trying to make a story' out of it, according to documents released Friday.U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, a Republican, told an officer in the aftermath of the attack that Guardian newspaper reporter Ben Jacobs had grabbed him by the wrist and pulled both of them to the floor, according to notes from a Gallatin County sheriff's officer who interviewed the politician the night of the attack.Multiple witnesses contradicted that account, and Gianforte later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault. The attack occurred the day before his victory in a May 25 special election, by which time many voters already had cast ballots by mail.More than 100 pages of documents, photos and audio from the investigation were released under a court order following requests from The Associated Press and other news organizations.The documents include interviews with members of a Fox News crew who were in the room with Gianforte and Jacobs at the politician's Bozeman campaign office. They said Gianforte became enraged over what he perceived as biased coverage before body-slamming Jacobs, throwing him to the ground and punching him.Gianforte staffer Josh Elle — the candidate's driver — told investigators that he was in an adjacent room when he heard a commotion and looked into the interview room. Elle told investigators that Gianforte appeared to be striking the reporter with closed fists before someone in the room closed the door.Another worker said Gianforte and others on the campaign had been complaining earlier in the day about 'duplicitous' campaign coverage by the Guardian and Buzzfeed.Gianforte told Sgt. Scott Secor in an interview that Jacobs had interrupted as the Fox crew set up for an interview and 'started interrogating in a very intensive way.'I probably shouldn't do it but I reached out for his phone ... he grabbed my wrist, he spun and we ended up on the floor ... so he pulled me down on top of him,' the sergeant quoted Gianforte as saying.In the hours after the assault, Gianforte's campaign spokesman, Shane Scanlon, issued a statement that also blamed the attack on Jacobs, saying the reporter had grabbed the candidate's wrist. The records released Friday show that Gianforte first gave the misleading account to authorities.Gianforte spokesman Travis Hall insisted the documents contained 'nothing new.'No one was misled, and anyone who says otherwise is mistaken. Greg took responsibility for his actions and is focused on serving the people of Montana,' Hall said in an emailed statement.Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert said he was aware of Gianforte's comments to investigators but did not consider additional charges such as obstruction of justice because authorities were focused on the assault allegation.'When the police are investigating a case, suspects of crimes will say misleading things, and apparently that's exactly what happened here on the part of both Mr. Gianforte and his campaign,' Lambert said.'It is not a crime per se to lie to the cops,' added Lambert, a Republican. 'The main thing here is he was charged with assaulting Ben Jacobs and pled guilty to that.'Gianforte paid a $385 fine and completed 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger management counseling. He also donated $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists.The assault happened too late in the campaign to affect the outcome of the election to replace Ryan Zinke, who resigned to become President Donald Trump's Interior Department secretary.Gianforte is up for re-election next year and has filed to run. Six Democrats have lined up to challenge him.The congressman unsuccessfully fought a judge's order for him to be booked by law enforcement and photographed like other defendants. In October, Gallatin County District Judge Holly Brown ordered the release of Gianforte's mug shot, which is sure to be used as fodder by Democrats in the run-up to the election.__Follow Matthew Brown on Twitter at www.twitter.com/matthewbrownap .
  • Update (Friday, November 17) President Donald Trump said in a tweet Friday he’s delaying a new policy allowing the body parts of African elephants shot for sport to be imported until he can review “all conservation facts.” The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday that it will allow the importation of body parts from African elephants shot for sport. The agency said encouraging wealthy big-game hunters to kill the threatened species would help raise money for conservation programs. Animal rights advocates and environmental groups criticized the decision. On Friday, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee urged the administration to reverse the policy, calling it the “wrong move at the wrong time.” Trump said that the policy had been “under study for years.” He says he will review the issue with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Earlier The Trump administration plans to lift a ban on Friday that barred big game hunters from bringing trophies from elephants killed in a pair of African nations to America, according to multiple reports. >> Read more trending news A spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told ABC News in a statement Wednesday that the decision was made after officials in Zimbabwe and Zambia provided them with information to support a reversal of the ban. 'Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation,' the spokesperson told ABC News. The decision will overturn a 2014 ban implemented by President Barack Obama’s administration in response to falling elephant populations.  African elephants are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A provision in the act, however, allows for the government to give permits that let people import trophies from such animals if evidence shows that hunting them helps conservation efforts, according to NBC News. The rule reversal will apply to elephants hunted in Zimbabwe from Jan. 21, 2016, to Dec. 31, 2018, the news station reported. It will also apply to elephants killed in Zambia in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and “applications that meet all other applicable permitting requirements,” a Fish and Wildlife spokesperson told NBC News. According to the 2016 Great Elephant Census, Savanna elephant populations fell by 30 percent between 2007 and 2014. About 352,000 elephants were spotted during the survey, 82,300 in Zimbabwe and 21,700 in Zambia. Both countries had areas that saw substantial declines in elephant populations along the Zambezi river in Zambia and in Zimbabwe’s Sebungwe region, according to the census. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • The Latest on a plan to allow importation of elephant parts (all times local):7:55 p.m.President Donald Trump says he's delaying a new policy allowing the body parts of African elephants shot for sport to be imported until he can review 'all conservation facts.'The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday that it will allow the importation of body parts from African elephants shot for sport. The agency said encouraging wealthy big-game hunters to kill the threatened species would help raise money for conservation programs.Animal rights advocates and environmental groups criticized the decision. On Friday, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee urged the administration to reverse the policy, calling it the 'wrong move at the wrong time.'Trump tweeted that the policy had been 'under study for years.' He says he will review the issue with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.___1:40 p.m.The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee is calling on the Trump administration to reverse its new policy allowing importation of body parts from African elephants shot for sport, labeling it the 'wrong move at the wrong time.'California Rep. Ed Royce is questioning the action because of concerns not only about African wildlife but U.S. national security, citing the political upheaval in Zimbabwe,.The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in a written notice issued Thursday that permitting elephants from Zimbabwe and Zambia to be brought back as trophies will raise money for conservation programs.Royce says that when carefully regulated, conservation hunts could help the wildlife population, but 'this is the wrong move at the wrong time.
  • The family of a 5-year-old boy whose skull was crushed in the rotating wall of a hotel restaurant has sued the Atlanta hotel, accusing it of negligence in his death. Attorney Joseph Fried filed suit Wednesday for Rebecca and Michael Holt of Charlotte, North Carolina, whose son Charlie died April 14. 'What started out as the best family trip, turned into the worst nightmare,' Rebecca Holt said in a statement emailed by Fried. They had chosen the Sun Dial restaurant 'because it was recommended as a fun place for families with kids to see the Atlanta skyline and enjoy a meal,' Charlie's father, Michael Holt, said in the statement. Marriott International, the hotel's owner, didn't immediately respond to an email and phone call requesting comment. Police had said the boy wandered away from his family's window table at the restaurant atop the Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel and got his head stuck between tables. They also said the rotating floor shut off automatically when he was struck. The lawsuit disagrees with police statements. It said the family left along a path that various members had used without problems to go to and from the bathroom. But this time, it said, a booth rotating near a stationary wall blocked their path. Charlie, a few steps ahead of his parents, 'was too short to see past the booth and did not appreciate the danger until it was too late,' and was trapped in the 'pinch point' between booth and wall, according to the lawsuit. 'To Michael's and Rebecca's horror, the rotation did not automatically stop when Charlie got trapped,' the lawsuit states, and there was no emergency button to stop it. Rebecca Holt tried to pull her son free and Michael Holt 'threw his body against the booth,' but both actions were futile, it said. It said Michael Holt heard his son's skull crack before someone finally stopped the rotation. 'The family has filed this law suit to set the record straight about what happened and to make sure, to the best of their abilities, that no other family ever has to suffer the same fate,' Fried's statement said. Defendants include Marriott, as well as the chain that previously owned the Peachtree before Marriott bought the chain. Also named are other former owners and operators, and the architects, interior designer and contractor in charge of renovations to the restaurant in 2012 and 2013. The hotel reopened the restaurant in June. 'After Charlie's death, Marriott has said that it won't allow the restaurant to revolve again until it has addressed the dangerous pinch points,' Fried's statement said. 'Marriott should not have waited for this tragedy before acting to correct this hazard, especially while it held itself out as a safe place for kids.' ___ McConnaughey reported from New Orleans.