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Latest from Veronica Waters

    A convicted sex offender wins an appeal before the Georgia Supreme Court after contending that his lifetime electronic monitoring was unconstitutional.    Joseph Park was convicted of child molestation and nine counts of sexual exploitation of a minor in Douglas County in 2003. He was classified as a 'sexually dangerous predator,' released from prison in 2011, and finished probation in 2015.   The following year, Park was arrested, then indicted, in DeKalb County for destroying his ankle monitor. He fought back in court, arguing that the GPS monitoring under the Georgia law amounted to an unreasonable search, as he had already completed all of his sentence.   The state's highest court agrees, ruling that the monitoring patently violates the Fourth Amendment which protects people against unreasonable searches and seizures.   'The Court's saying that once someone pays their debt to society, and they're not under sentence, it's unreasonable to require them to submit to electronic monitoring for the rest of their life,' says WSB legal analyst Phil Holloway. 'This is yet another clear indication, I think, that the Georgia court is taking a more libertarian stance when it comes to freedoms of all types, not just in the context of the Fourth Amendment.'    Justices said it's unconstitutional to use a 24/7, warrantless GPS monitoring 'to the extent that it authorizes such searches of individuals, like Park, who are no longer serving any part of their sentences in order to find evidence of possible criminal conduct,” writes Chief Justice Harold Melton.   Georgia Code § 42-1-14 sets up a risk classification system on the ground that “recidivist sexual offenders, sexual offenders who use physical violence, and sexual offenders who prey on children are sexual predators who present an extreme threat to the public safety.” Park was listed in the most severe category, Level III.   Holloway notes, however, that the state Supreme Court made a note that such monitoring could be allowed if the law is changed. The Justices pointed out that some states have made lifetime GPS monitoring allowable when it is instituted as a part of the sentence itself. Justice Keith Blackwell noted this in a concurring opinion, writing that the decision “does not foreclose other means by which the General Assembly might put the same policy into practice.”   'Electronic monitoring of any person--whether or not they're classified as a predator or an ordinary citizen who's never been convicted of a crime does constitute a search,' explains Holloway. 'The Court has invited the legislature to change this, because all they would have to do is say that someone who is such a predator is going to be under sentence for the remainder of their life.'    He adds that there may be criticism of the idea from some corners.   'People who think that criminal sentences are already too long, and groups that do not like mandatory minimum sentencing, will not like this Court's invitation to the legislature to lengthen already-long sentences,' says Holloway.   The Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Sex Offender Registry website lists some 456 people as 'sexually dangerous predators.
  • Former attorney Michael Cohen testified Tuesday about Donald Trump's involvement in a $130,000 hush money payout to an adult film actress. But that money is only a fraction of how much the testimony is costing American employers.Andy Challenger, vice president at executive outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, says the enormously-anticipated testimony before the U.S. House Oversight Committee is being watched and discussed around the country--including by folks at work. Live-streaming of the testimony can add up to big distractions, he says.
  • Although they remain desperate to see their daughter for the first time in more than two years, JonJelyn and Tim Savage are frozen in Atlanta even after R. Kelly's arrest.  The Savages contend their daughter, Joycelyn, is being held as a part of an alleged sex cult by Kelly. They hoped to reconnect with her as soon as possible after Robert Sylvester Kelly was arrested on 10 counts of sexual abuse in Cook County, Illinois. Instead, their attorney Gerald Griggs says 'very serious death threats' are keeping them grounded in Georgia for now. A manager of Kelly, Don Russell, and former manager Henry James Mason, are under investigation for threatening the Savages ahead of the Lifetime docuseries 'Surviving R. Kelly.' The couple believe Kelly has brainwashed their daughter, who met him at 19 in 2015, and spoke about that in the program. A Henry County police report says an officer overheard Mason's telephone threat last year. Mason surrendered and bonded out on the charge last month in Henry County.  Griggs says Russell was seen with Kelly as the singer, 52, surrendered to police. He tells WSB that they had always planned to have the assistance of law enforcement in traveling to Chicago. The actions of Joycelyn Savage and another alleged sex cult member, Azriel Clary, at Kelly's Saturday bond hearing have delayed those plans.  'Specifically, Joycelyn Savage was asked by numerous reporters if she'd had contact with her parents, when she planned on reconciling and talking to them,' said Griggs. 'She did not respond. She just kept looking straight forward, and kept being whisked off by Mr. Kelly's entourage.'  That concerned her parents even more, because they haven't spoken to her since December 2016. Clary's reaction was similar, yet perhaps even more chilling because her parents were in the courtroom, too, says Griggs.  'They were seated on the same row, and they tried to make direct contact with her. She kept her face and eyes forward. .She did not respond. She did not even look at her parents,' he says, before she was also briskly taken away by Kelly's staff. He likens their actions to those of Patty Hearst, a college student kidnapped by domestic terrorists in 1974 who then went on to commit crimes with her captors.  'It fits into the mental manipulation and the Stockholm Syndrome that we believe they are suffering from,' says Griggs, who also believes that Fulton County prosecutors can bring a case against Kelly for actions targeting both Savage and Clary at Kelly's former home in Johns Creek.  The threats and the women's actions in court caused authorities to urge the Savages to reschedule. Now is the time, contends Griggs, for Kelly's lawyer Steve Greenberg to back up the claim that the women are not being controlled or harmed.  'If your client has nothing to hide, make them available,' he says. 'We'll meet with Mr. Greenberg, and members of Cook County's [state's] attorney's office, and Joycelyn Savage. The ball's in his court. His client's the one that's facing the possibility of never seeing the light of day.
  • A new judge is getting up to speed on the upcoming murder trial of former DeKalb County police officer Robert Olsen. Olsen fatally shot 27-year-old Anthony Hill, an unarmed man and Afghanistan war veteran who had been meandering naked through his Chamblee apartment complex in 2015.  The trial had been scheduled to start February 25, almost two weeks before the four-year anniversary of the March 9 fatal shooting, but was delayed after a recent shakeup involving the judge who had been overseeing the case. Superior Court Judge LaTisha Dear Jackson began a status conference Friday morning acknowledging she is coming into the trial with a blank slate. “I don’t know anything about this case other than it is a defendant that is charged with murder and it happens to be a police officer,” said Dear Jackson.  Earlier this month, Judge J.P. Boulee unexpectedly recused himself from the case in a court order in which he said even the appearance of impartiality should be avoided in trials. He had recently donated money to an anti-domestic violence fun run sponsored by the district attorney. Dear Jackson, who is newly elected to the bench in DeKalb County Superior Court, accepted the case after three other judges recused themselves as well. Assistant District Attorney Pete Johnson filled in the judge on the history of the case, including 2018’s immunity hearing in which Olsen unsuccessfully sought to have the previous judge dismiss the charges on the grounds of self-defense. The lawyers discussed the framework of a giving potential jurors a questionnaire, which had been drafted while Boulee was still on the case, and estimated the trial would take no longer than three weeks from jury selection to verdict.  While Johnson estimated picking a jury would take no more than two days, defense attorney Amanda Clark Palmer thinks jury selection itself could take up to four days. “I think that in large part depends on how many jurors we get who know about the case, but then also there are just some underlying kind of societal issues with this case that people may have strong feelings about,” she says.  The defense says it will have a motion to argue seeking to bar the State from presenting certain facts. The lawyers and judge also discussed scheduling conflicts for potential trial dates. Clark Palmer detailed upcoming trials and travel plans a couple of the defense team have, including an expected two-month federal case beginning in April. “I will get you a date within a week,” said Judge Dear Jackson. “We’ll be ready as soon as the Court is able to schedule it,” said Johnson.
  • He lives in north Fulton County, voted for Donald Trump, and is married to an undocumented immigrant. Now, these parents find themselves supporting their son—who has cancer—from both sides of the Mexican border.“The first time I saw her, I thought she was beautiful,” recalls Jason Rochester about Cecilia Gonzalez. “I loved her laugh.” The pair have known each other more than 15 years and will have been married for 12 years this May. They have a five-year-old son, Ashton. But until the past year, he says, even some of their friends didn’t know of Cecilia’s immigration status. She had been in the United States for about 18 years, having immigrated illegally twice, and been caught and sent back to Mexico twice. Rochester was quick to note that she has never been in trouble with the law or had any type of government assistance.
  • A Fulton County judge found probable cause Wednesday to send the case of the Opera Atlanta nightclub sex assault suspect to a grand jury for not just one--but two cases.Dominique Williams, 34, was arrested on a charge of aggravated sodomy in late January, after a woman who had been celebrating her birthday at Opera said that Williams assaulted her sexually twice there--once on the dance floor, and again on a back patio after carrying her limp body off the dance floor. Jasmine Eiland, 30, believes something had been slipped into her drink--an allegation described by her attorney Chris Stewart earlier this week.
  • The Gwinnett County woman accused of starving her stepdaughter to death and burning the 10-year-old’s body in 2013 has learned the date of her death penalty trial. Superior Court Judge George Hutchinson set the first phase of Tiffany Moss's jury selection and orientation for April 8, 2019. That's when the people who received jury summonses will be in hearings as they seek to be excused from the jury pool. The heart of jury selection begins the following week, April 15.  In court Thursday afternoon, Tiffany Moss had little to say in a status conference that lasted barely five minutes. Shackled and wearing a green jumpsuit, she responded politely, with a 'No, sir,' when the judge asked her if she needed anything as she prepares to represent herself in her death penalty case. She told him she had no questions.  Emani Moss, her stepdaughter, weighed only 32 pounds when her burned body was found in a trash bin outside her family's Lawrenceville apartment. The girl's father, Eman Moss, has already pleaded guilty and agreed to testify for the state. He is serving life without the possibility of parole. While Moss says she has received divine guidance to act as her own attorney, lawyers Brad Gardner and Emily Gilbert from the state Office of the Capital Defender remain her legal advisors on standby in the case. The state Supreme Court has essentially said that Moss has made no mistakes representing herself and can continue to act as her own attorney. Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter says he has never tried a death penalty case in which the defendant does not have legal representation.  He's aware of another case--though not in his jurisdiction--in which a death penalty defendant represented himself at trial. Jamie Hood, accused of killing an Athens-Clarke County police officer, did not get himself acquitted but he did get a sentence of life without the possibility of parole instead of being sent to death row. He says Hood did not need help in the case because he seemed to know what he was doing. But Moss, he notes, is not preparing for her death penalty trial in any traditional way.  'There are boxes of discovery out at the jail. She has not requested access to that, and she has not requested access to the law library,' says Porter.  Is it a fair fight?  'I’m going to do everything I can to make sure it's as fair as it can be under the circumstances,' says Porter, “and that’s going to be part of the challenge of the case.” He says it remains to be seen just how much help Moss will need at trial. He already knows that he will have to do certain things and ask certain questions to protect the record, because there’s no defense attorney making tactical decisions. But maybe she’s preparing in another way, he says. 'She's confident. In hearings, she's very confident. She's completely ready to go, is what she says.' 
  • A rookie policeman ousted from the force after he used his squad car to stop a man from getting away is filing suit against his former boss. Robert Taylor Saulters is seeking a jury trial and damages as he sues the Athens-Clarke County former police chief, government, and others. 'Former Chief [R. Scott] Freeman and Athens-Clarke County failed to their job, and in the course of doing that, they sacrificed Mr. Saulters' reputation at the altar of political expediency,' says Saulters attorney, Phil Holloway, who filed the lawsuit Thursday.  Saulters was one of two officers trying to arrest Timmy Patmon on a probation violation for non-violent drug possession offenses on June 1, 2018. As Patmon ran down the street, Saulters used his patrol car to try to block Patmon; the car ultimately ran into Patmon and knocked him down.  Body-cam video shows the chase and its aftermath, when Patmon was then handcuffed while lying on the ground.  The Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia use-of-force investigation into the incident determined Patmon changed direction and ran into the path of the patrol car after a series of back-and-forth movements as he tried to duck police.  'The end result of this cat and mouse pursuit was a collision between Patmon and Saulters' patrol car which occurred on the front quarter panel of the passenger side of the car,' wrote PACG's executive director Peter Skandalakis. 'Patmon suffered minor scrapes and the investigating agent found no damage to the patrol car. Based on these factors, Officer Saulters acted within the scope of his duties. His Use of Force in this case was reasonable and, therefore, further investigation and/or criminal prosecution is not warranted.'  Saulters had graduated from the police academy less than a year before the incident, and was fired within two days of it. He was hired a day later by another law enforcement agency, Oglethorpe County's sheriff's office.  Holloway responded to a question about whether Saulters' reputation really suffered, since he had a new job offer within hours of his firing.  'The former chief and the police department effectively accused him of committing a crime. By definition, they have defamed him. By definition, they have harmed his reputation,' says Holloway. [They] owed it to Taylor Saulters to do a thorough investigation before they announced to the whole world--wrongly, I might add--that he intentionally ran over somebody.' 
  • Dangerous drugs, and dozens of people accused of selling them, are now off the street.  Spalding County police are in the process of locking up 60+ offenders for selling and distributing methamphetamine and heroin across metro Atlanta, and out of Georgia into other states.  Investigators say they obtained more than 100 arrest warrants. About 10 of those arrested are affiliated with the Ghostface Gangsters, Sheriff Darrell Dix tells WSB Radio.  “The Ghostfaced are predominantly Caucasian,” Dix adds, and explains, “They have a lot of beliefs very similar to neo-Nazi, Aryan-type beliefs and they are extremely violent.”  Dix says that after three people died of suspected fentanyl-laced meth or heroin, they used wiretaps to track that drug network. “We started getting information about a local dealer here,” Dix explains, adding, “His name is Kevin Pitts.  “We initially went up on a wire on his phone, and then we found his source who was dealing in the metro area.”  A second wiretapping led deputies to their main target – Amanda Pugh.  Dix says that Pugh was the source of methamphetamine that came into Spalding County that police believe could be connected to multiple deaths.  Pugh's drug network had customers as far away as West Virginia, with some arrests also coming in Florida and South Carolina. As the investigation grew, Spalding County investigators found that some of the suspects were already on the radar of other agencies. Other information that was uncovered was turned over to the DEA.  The two-month long investigation was dubbed “Operation Say No More.” Dix tells WSB that was a catchphrase used repeatedly by one of the main suspects. “On the phone, when people were ordering drugs or wanting guns from him, he would just always end the conversation with, ‘Say no more,’” Dix says.  He adds that overall, this is a major blow to this trafficking network. “As I have said before, if you sell narcotics, or are a gang member, you are a criminal,” Dix affirms, saying, “You have three choices. You can stop, you can leave Spalding County, or you can begin counting down your days of freedom because we are coming for you.  “If you choose to be a criminal, thug, or gang member, you’ve made your choice, so get used to seeing us on a regular basis. We are not backing down and we will do everything we can to make our county safer.”
  • It's not all fun when the games get this big. As the Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots are now worth more than $2 billion combined, some convenience stores are seeing long lines of hopeful winners coming to buy lottery tickets. At QuikTrip, the frenzy means long hours for employees.  'What we've learned is when you get massive lines like this, our people get worn out,' QuikTrip spokesman Mike Thornbrugh tells WSB. 'You know, the monotony of just pushing a button over and over and over again. 'So we spend a lot of time trying to relieve people because believe it or not, it's hard on your back, and it's really hard on your index finger!'  Thornbrugh says for the most part, stores have only one lottery machine, so the lines for tickets are handled by only one worker at at a time. The stores have to increase the frequency of breaks, and also bring in extra staffers to help.  'It's just been constant, 24 hours a day selling these tickets,' he says.  Even though the crowds are large, it doesn't necessarily translate to big business for the stores, Thornbrugh reveals.  'The downside of it is when you get jackpots this high, the discretionary money that somebody would spend maybe on a hot dog, a sandwich, or a fountain drink, that money's really being used for the lottery ticket. So the other inside sales, they suffer a little bit on this,' he says.  Thornbrugh says while QuikTrip is happy to help, they can see their personnel getting tired.  'We want somebody to win,' he laughs.  He also says he just might buy a lottery ticket himself--provided the lines are not too long.
  • 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.

    Latest from Veronica Waters »

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News

  • Two men are accused to stealing more than $70,000 worth of musical instruments from the University of Louisville’s School of Music, WLKY reported. >> Read more trending news  Alphonso Monrew, 22, and Anthony Abrams, 52, were arrested Thursday, according to Jefferson County Jail records. Each were charged with two counts of third degree burglary and two counts of theft by unlawful taking, the television station reported. According to police, on several occasions the two men stole instruments, including a $10,000 guitar, from the university’s music school, WLKY reported. The thefts occurred over several weeks, the television station reported. All of the instruments have been recovered and will be returned to students, police said.
  • A Texas woman got an early start to celebrating her 105th birthday, joining more than 150 family members for a party at a San Antonio church, KSAT reported. >> Read more trending news  Minnie McRae, who turns 105 on Tuesday, was the guest of honor at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church on Saturday, the television station reported. McRae’s nephew, Arturo Ayala, flew from Germany to attend the party for a woman who taught him how to dance by giving him lessons in her living room, KSAT reported.  Ayala said he believes he knows the secret to his aunt’s long life 'She's never shared it, but from my relationship with her, I see her always praying and ... always reading,' Ayala told the television station.  Ayala also said McRae was very spiritual and did work with Incarnate Word. 'She's a blessing and she's a miracle,' Ayala told KSAT.
  • There will be laughing, singing, and music swinging when singer Martha Reeves receives another honor in May. >> Read more trending news  Reeves, 77, the lead vocalist of 1960s group Martha and Vandellas, will be honored by the Alabama State Council on the Arts on May 22, AL.com reported. Reeves was the singer for the group’s hits, including “Dancing in the Streets,” “Heat Wave” and “Jimmy Mack.” Reeves, a native of Eufaula, will receive Alabama’s 2019 Distinguished Artist Award. The award recognizes “a professional artist who is considered a native or adopted Alabamian and who has earned significant national acclaim for their art over an extended period,' according to the council’s website. Other recipients of the award include Jim Nabors, Fannie Flagg and George Lindsey. Vandella moved to Detroit as a child and grew up singing in church, AL.com reported. Her gospel-influenced vocals were evident in the group’s pop and rhythm and blues songs, which gave the Vandellas a string of hits on the Motown label. Reeves was inducted with the group -- Rosalind Ashford-Holmes, Annette Sterling-Helton, Lois Reeves and Betty Kelly -- into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. “Martha and the Vandellas were the Supremes’ tougher, more grounded counterpart,” the Rock Hall website says. “With her cheeky, fervent vocals, Martha Reeves led the group in a string of dance anthems that are irresistible to this day.” Reeves was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1995. 
  • A Florida deputy was arrested after an altercation at a Jacksonville nightclub, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office reported. >> Read more trending news  According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Officer Rodney Bryant, a 5 1/2-year member of the department, was involved in a dispute Friday at Mascara's Gentlemen's Club with his girlfriend and her friend.  Bryant has been charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He has been terminated from his position in the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. According to deputies, the group left the club but the dispute continued in a vehicle. This was when Bryant allegedly pulled over, opened the trunk of his vehicle and pulled out a firearm.  Bryant allegedly pointed the gun at the two women, making threats, according to the Sheriff’s Office.  They were all pulled over long enough for the girlfriend's friend to make contact with her sister, who later arrived at the scene, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The girl's sister observed Bryant with the firearm making threats and that he pointed the firearm at her, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
  • A Marine killed in action during the Vietnam War nearly 50 years ago was honored in a memorial service Saturday, and a headstone and plaque were erected at his gravesite at a South Florida cemetery, the Sun-Sentinel reported. >> Read more trending news  Private First Class Gregory Carter was killed in action Oct. 12, 1969, in the Quang Ngai province of South Vietnam, according to according to a Vietnam military casualties database on Ancestry.com. He was remembered in a service attended by nearly 200 people Saturday at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Fort Lauderdale, the Sun-Sentinel reported. “It’s like he woke up to the world again,” Carter’s brother, Anthony Owens, told the newspaper. “His life is meaningful. It means something.” “No, I did not (expect this many people). It raised our spirits, big time.” Carter laid in an unmarked grave until the Vietnam Veterans of America discovered him while searching for photographs of Vietnam veterans to place on the black granite Wall of Faces in Washington, D.C., the Sun-Sentinel reported. Carter was drafted into the Marines on July 4, 1969, when he was 19, according to the Ancestry.com database. He already had a young son and a daughter was on the way, but Carter would never know either of them, the newspaper reported. The Vietnam Veterans of America worked with the city of Fort Lauderdale and others to get Carter’s grave marker, the Sun-Sentinel reported. The organization also secured a photograph from a baseball team photograph in the Dillard High School yearbook, the newspaper reported. Gregory Carter now lies with his mother, grandparents, three siblings and other relatives at Sunset Memorial Gardens. “If you die you’re just lost until somebody thinks about you again,” Anthony Owens told the Sun-Sentinel. “So his spirit is probably all around us right now. It’s a good thing. He’s doing good.”
  • The wife of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was bitten by a rattlesnake at their Arizona home Friday, the Arizona Republic reported. >> Read more trending news  Ava Arpaio was working on her computer in her office around 10 a.m. when the snake bit her on the left foot, Joe Arpaio told the newspaper. 'She's tough. If she can put up with me for 60 years, then she can handle a snake bite,' Joe Arpaio told the Republic. Joe Arpaio, 86, said the large rattlesnake was removed by fire crews. 'Must've been a Democrat,' the longtime Republican joked to the Republic. Ava Arpaio likely will be in a hospital for 'two or three' days, her husband told the newspaper. Arpaio served as sheriff of Maricopa County for 24 years until losing re-election to Democrat Paul Penzone in 2016. The 86-year-old lawman made national news for his Tent City Jail where inmates were housed in Korean War era army tents, KSAZ reported. >> President Trump pardons Joe Arpaio Joe Arpaio was convicted of a criminal charge in July 2017 for refusing to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants. He was pardoned a month later by President Donald Trump.