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Latest from Veronica Waters

    Police are hoping the public can help identify a man who allegedly burglarized a home in Paulding County -- and cut the homeowner’s neck while holding her at knifepoint. Angie Vaughn returned home after a night out on March 28, interrupting a man who was burglarizing her home on Ginnity Drive.  Paulding County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ashley Henson says the man surprised the homeowner, grabbing her from behind and holding a knife to her throat. At one point she was able to break away, but the ‘smelly suspect’ snatched her back and continued to hit her, while hurling vulgar language at her, before he fled the scene and got away with money and credit cards.  “He was just a very grungy, dirty individual -- and just very violent with her,” Sgt. Henson tells WSB Radio’s Veronica Waters. Henson adds that Vaughn noted the suspect was “very soiled and smelled of cigarettes.” The homeowner, Angie Vaughn, chimed in on the Paulding County Sheriff’s Facebook page, correcting those who were assuming that the attack was not harmful to her. “This attack happened against me, so to the ones sharing and offering to pray for me I really appreciate it and to the ones that think this is a joke you should really be ashamed of yourselves,” Vaughn’s post reads. “And for some of you to say well we thought she was just pushed, well how would you like someone to invade your home and push you? But just so you know I wasn't just pushed, he beat me, cut my throat and robbed me. “This sketch wasn't just to help get me some kind of justice it was also to save all of you jokers from the same fate.” “One of the things that she noted in her post was that he was able to cut her throat harshly -- not slice it open or anything like that -- but as a result of having a knife to her throat, she got cut a little bit,” Henson explains to WSB. He adds, “To come home and interrupt a burglary, and to be abused the way she was, is a very unsettling incident.” Henson says that that since posting the suspect’s sketch on their Facebook page, tipsters have posted photos of possible suspects, some of whom appear to be homeless. Police have said they are not counting out anything at this point as to the man’s identity or living situation.   Vaughn described the white male as having a foul odor consisting of a mixture of cigarettes and body odor. He is believed to be in his late 30’s to early 40’s and has brown hair. He was also described as having facial hair covering his top lip and appeared to be very dirty.  Tipsters are asked to call the Criminal Investigations Division of the Sheriff’s Office at (770) 443-3015.
  • 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.”
  • 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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News

  • New cellphone video appears to show a Florida substitute teacher body slam a student while breaking up a fight between at least two students. >> Watch the news report here Witnesses told ActionNewsJax that this happened Monday at Terry Parker High School in Jacksonville. ActionNewsJax spoke exclusively with Towyhia McAffee, who says her 15-year-old son was the one tackled. “You slammed my son,” she said. “You picked him up and slammed him.” She said her son is the teen shown wearing a cast in the video. “Do you intend to make any kind of complaint?” ActionNewsJax reporter Russell Colburn asked. “Absolutely,” she said. >> Read more trending news  Last week, after at least five recent allegations of teachers hitting students came into the ActionNewsJax newsroom, Colburn sat down with superintendent Dr. Diana Greene to discuss training. “Is there ever a situation where a teacher would want to put their hands on a student?” Colburn asked. “There should never be a situation where a teacher wants to put their hands on a student, unless they are preventing they are preventing that student from hurting themselves or hurting someone else,” Greene said. Duval County Public Schools policy does state the teacher 'must act reasonably given the circumstances when they intervene.' McAffee said that didn’t happen here. “Something needs to be done about that,” she said. “That’s not right.” ActionNewsJax followed up with DCPS on this specific case for more information on the teacher and what may have led up to the fight, but officials said that because fighting is a student disciplinary situation, they won’t provide details or comment further.
  • A father in Tuscumbia, Alabama, surprised his daughter’s entire second-grade class with a field trip to her favorite place. But Jeremy Smith’s little girl wasn’t among the kids jumping and laughing at the town’s local trampoline business, Sky Zone. Jaleia Smith died in September after the family was involved in a car crash, WHNT reported. Weeks before the crash, Jaleia and her friends celebrated her 8th birthday at the same Sky Zone. >> Read more trending news  So, to remember his daughter, and to thank the school and students for everything they have done for him this year since Jaleia’s death, Jeremy Smith treated all 111-second grade students at G.W. Trenholm Primary School to a surprise field trip to the trampoline business, WHNT reported. Her friends still miss the little girl. “[We] try to have as much fun as we can, but sometimes we can’t have as much fun as we would have if she was here,” Mia Awwad told WHNT.  Jaleia’s friends have tried to keep her memory alive too over the past school year. They retired her student number and planted a tree in her memory. They also left messages to Jaleia on the chalkboard in her classroom, according to WHNT.
  • Sisters Hailey and Hannah Hagor of North Carolina spent the weekend selling lemonade to pay off their classmates’ lunch debt. >> Watch the news report here >> Fired lunch lady was 'dishonest,' didn't follow rules, food vendor says Student lunch debt at Southwood Elementary in Davidson County is up to $3,100. >> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news  “There's one family that owes $800,” the girls’ mother, Erin Hager, said. “I don't know how many years worth that is, but it's a big deal.' >> Read more trending news  The girls also sold chili, hot dogs and chips. >> See the girls' Facebook page here More than $40,000 is owed to schools across Davidson County.
  • Maybe they just wanted to go for a joyride? Three bear cubs recently crawled into a man's car in Gatlinburg, Tennessee – and the shocking moment was caught on camera. >> Gatlinburg SkyBridge: Nation's longest pedestrian suspension bridge opens in Tennessee According to WFIE, Chad Morris of Owensboro, Kentucky, was visiting the popular tourist destination last week when he spotted the undesignated drivers taking over his vehicle. Photos show the bears peeking out the windows, which Morris had left open, and getting cozy behind the steering wheel as their mother watches from the street. >> Read more trending news  'Is this real life?' Morris captioned the pictures in a Facebook book Thursday. 'Tell me we are being punked.'  >> See the Facebook post here >> Watch a video of the moment here In a Facebook comment, Morris said the bears eventually 'climbed out and took off back down the mountain.' 'I knew as soon as they got out and went down the hill, I put my windows up and they stayed up every time I parked,' Morris told WFIE. Thankfully, Morris’ new furry friends didn’t cause too much damage, though a bear did take “a chunk out of the seat,” he said. Read more here.
  • Police in Phoenix are trying to find the woman they said left a toddler in a stroller in the middle of a shopping center parking lot Saturday. The child, who is between 1 and 2 years old and was asleep in the stroller, is in the custody of the Arizona Department of Child Safety, KTVK reported. >> Read more trending news  The little boy was discovered by a bystander. The stroller was in a parking space near a fast-food restaurant, and was partially hidden under food wrappers and what police described as “other junk,” according to KTVK. “Someone who was on their way to work was walking by a pile of really just debris and among that debris was a stroller and inside the stroller was a little moving leg,” Phoenix Police Sgt. Vince Lewis told KTVK. The boy was taken to an area hospital to be checked out. He wasn’t hurt, KTVK reported.
  • A child was injured after being struck by a Boston Police cruiser Monday night. Boston Police say just after 7 p.m., they received a call of a pedestrian struck on Shawmut Avenue in Roxbury.  The pedestrian, who police said is a 1-year-old child, was taken to the hospital with minor injuries after being hit. The child's mother tells us her daughter suffered a broken collarbone in the crash.  >> Read more trending news  No additional information was released.