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    From a court watcher’s perspective it’s apparent to most that the upcoming trial of Ryan Duke, charged with the 2005 murder of South Georgia high school teacher Tara Grinstead is sure to be nothing short of a spectacle of epic proportions. We got a preview of things to come during - of all things - a bond hearing where Duke asked, for the first time in two years, to be released on bond. It wasn’t the denial of bond, nor the fact that Duke asked for bond that is particularly noteworthy. It’s what the bond hearing devolved into that raised eyebrows. Despite losing the motion, the defense unexpectedly was able to depose the lead GBI investigator on a wide range of topics in a dress rehearsal for what promises to be a most controversial trial.  To start, let’s have a look at what a bond hearing is supposed to be.  It’s uncommon for bond to be set in murder cases but it’s not unheard of. Courts are supposed to consider the following factors in making bond decisions and the burden of proof is on the defendant to show that he:  Poses no significant risk of fleeing from the jurisdiction of the court or failing to appear in court when required;  Poses no significant threat or danger to any person, to the community, or to any property in the community;  Poses no significant risk of committing any felony pending trial; and  Poses no significant risk of intimidating witnesses or otherwise obstructing the administration of justice.  Probable cause is not an issue and of course neither is guilt or innocence. A bond hearing is not a trial.  The Duke bond hearing started out as most bond hearings do. The defense called Duke’s brother to testify regarding each of the factors set out above. But then it started a downward spiral into the surreal when the prosecutor called the lead GBI case agent as a witness - presumably as a rebuttal to the defense. A state’s witness, such as an investigator, can occasionally testify - to a point - about “what happened” because that’s relevant - to a point - for the court to determine whether the person poses a danger to the community. But in this case, the testimony was literally all over the place and went into minute detail about many things that have never been heard before. The “bond hearing” was effectively transformed into a deposition - a legal luxury not normally available to a criminal defendant in Georgia.  So just what did we learn from this “bond” hearing? We learned that DNA from the bodily fluid of a police officer was mixed with the victim’s blood on some bedding and that “touch DNA” from Grinstead and Duke (along with DNA from at least two other people) was on a latex glove found outside her residence. “Touch DNA” has its own share of problems in terms of reliability and we can safely expect the defense to explore those problems at trial. Some of that other unidentified DNA from the glove could have come from Bo Dukes - the person accused of helping cover up the murder - and who the defense claims is the actual killer.  We learned there were many investigative steps that could have been taken to verify statements made by both Duke and Dukes. The defense will argue that these follow up steps point to a biased investigation. This could have a huge impact in a trial where the defense will claim that the defendants confession was a false confession.  We learned the GBI, in a breach of protocol and constitutional law, interviewed / talked with Duke twice after he had a lawyer. These interviews were undocumented in the GBI case file. They were not recorded. The DA apparently was unaware at the time that this tactic was being employed by the GBI until the defense raised it with them. The agent didn’t even sign in at the jail. We can only speculate as to why not.  On top of all this, an abundance of otherwise inadmissible evidence consisting of hearsay and innuendo managed to come out publicly at a bond hearing. Most of this wouldn’t have seen the light of day at a trial. As the prosecution correctly pointed out “hearsay” may be admissible at a bond hearing, but it still has to be reliable evidence - not a regurgitation of all the salacious rumors from 2005. And it must be relevant to the issue of bond. It may turn out that the DA made a great tactical mistake by calling their lead case agent to testify and turn this bond hearing into an evidentiary free-for-all with no apparent boundaries. At a minimum it was surely heartbreaking for friends and family of the victim to have to re-live all the pain of the last 13 years by having old wounds reopened in such painful detail.  I’ve previously written about why the venue for this trial really needs to be changed. Now more than ever the jury pool is really tainted - as if it weren’t already. Philip Holloway, WSB legal analyst, is a criminal lawyer who heads his own firm in Cobb County, Georgia. A former prosecutor and adjunct professor of criminal justice, he is former president of the Cobb County Bar Association's criminal law section. Follow him on Twitter: @PhilHollowayEsq The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 
  • An Atlanta jewelry store known for its celebrity clientele was burglarized while the owner and his wife were tied up in their Cobb County home, police said. Two armed, masked gunmen followed the owner of Icebox Diamonds & Watches home on Friday, forced him and his wife inside and took the keys to the jewelry store, Cobb County police said in a statement. After the victims were tied up, one of the robbers broke into the store on Peachtree Road in Buckhead, the statement said. Channel 2 Action News reported hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry was stolen from Icebox. Detectives determined two people broke into the store about 11:30 p.m. Friday and spent two hours clearing out safes filled with watches and jewelry, the news station reported. Surveillance footage suggests the thieves were using FaceTime on their iPhones while trying to get into the safes. Jewelry and cash were also taken from the owner’s home. He and his wife were not injured. Atlanta police are investigating the Icebox burglary, and Cobb police are handling the home invasion. Anyone with information about the armed robbery is urged to contact police at 770-499-3495 or cobbpolicecrimetips@cobbcounty.org.
  • Police are on the scene at a Walmart parking lot in Douglas County after a person was shot and killed. Douglasville police confirmed to Channel 2 Action News the shooting happened around 12:50 p.m. outside the Walmart on Thornton Road.  A Channel 2 Action News photographer arrived at the scene to find multiple police officers and cars investigating. It is unknown at this time what led to the shooting. Return for updates.  
  • Local groups are planning to take to the streets to protest President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration aimed at securing funds for a wall along the border with Mexico.  On Monday — Presidents Day — protesters will stage a demonstration outside the Atlanta field office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Ted Turner Drive.  The protest is part of a national movement organized by MoveOn to push back against Trump’s emergency declaration. Trump made the announcement Friday after signing a spending bill passed by Congress, which did not include as much money as the president wanted for the border wall. The president acknowledged that he will almost certainly face a legal challenge to the declaration, while experts pointed out that Trump’s move is unprecedented.  MoveOn called the move “an illegal power grab from an unhinged man to push his racist, dangerous policies.” Primarily organized by the Georgia Alliance for Social Justice, the Atlanta protest is set to take place at the ICE offices because ICE “would be charged with patrolling this ridiculous wall,” GAFSJ Executive Director Janel Green told AJC.com. Green said she expects at least 200 people to attend. A coalition of nearly a dozen other community organizations is joining the noon rally. 
  • Local groups are planning to take to the streets to protest President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration aimed at securing funds for a wall along the border with Mexico.  On Monday — Presidents Day — protesters will stage a demonstration outside the Atlanta field office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Ted Turner Drive.  The protest is part of a national movement organized by MoveOn to push back against Trump’s emergency declaration. Trump made the announcement Friday after signing a spending bill passed by Congress, which did not include as much money as the president wanted for the border wall. The president acknowledged that he will almost certainly face a legal challenge to the declaration, while experts pointed out that Trump’s move is unprecedented.  MoveOn called the move “an illegal power grab from an unhinged man to push his racist, dangerous policies.” Primarily organized by the Georgia Alliance for Social Justice, the Atlanta protest is set to take place at the ICE offices because ICE “would be charged with patrolling this ridiculous wall,” GAFSJ Executive Director Janel Green told AJC.com. Green said she expects at least 200 people to attend. A coalition of nearly a dozen other community organizations is joining the noon rally.  
  • Local groups are planning to take to the streets to protest President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration aimed at securing funds for a wall along the border with Mexico. On Monday — Presidents Day — protesters will stage a demonstration outside the Atlanta field office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Ted Turner Drive. The protest is part of a national movement organized by MoveOn to push back against Trump’s emergency declaration. Trump made the announcement Friday after signing a spending bill passed by Congress, which did not include as much money as the president wanted for the border wall. The president acknowledged that he will almost certainly face a legal challenge to the declaration, while experts pointed out that Trump’s move is unprecedented. READ MORE: Trump tests presidential power, declares emergency at border MoveOn called the move “an illegal power grab from an unhinged man to push his racist, dangerous policies.” Primarily organized by the Georgia Alliance for Social Justice, the Atlanta protest is set to take place at the ICE offices because ICE “would be charged with patrolling this ridiculous wall,” GAFSJ Executive Director Janel Green told AJC.com. Green said she expects at least 200 people to attend. A coalition of nearly a dozen other community organizations is joining the noon rally. RELATED: California may sue Trump over emergency wall declaration
  • A local clinic is investigating how hundreds of patient records were left partially burned in a parking lot, where anyone could have taken them. Some of the Southside Medical Center records were burned, but others contained visible confidential information such as Social Security numbers and medications, Channel 2 Action News reported. They were located in plain sight in a parking lot across from the clinic’s Atlanta location, in a dumpster and shipping crates, according to the news station. A Southside Medical Center spokeswoman said a “full investigation” is being opened into the issue. “Securing our patients’ records and caring for our patients are top priorities. We follow strict protocols for removing and destruction of records, which does not include burning,” she said in a statement to Channel 2. Someone came outside and cleaned up the records Saturday.  Charles Ford, when contacted by the news station from information found on the charred papers, was shocked when he learned that his Social Security number was found on a document in the parking lot. “Everything should be secret,' Ford told Channel 2. “Everything should be kept in a file. Something serious should be done about it.” In other news:
  • Georgia has yet to set a date for its 2020 presidential primary, but that didn’t deter U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren from making Gwinnett County one of her first campaign stops in her bid for the White House. Gwinnett has transformed from a Republican stronghold to a Democratic-leaning county in past elections, going for Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams by 14 percentage points in the 2018 governor’s race and for Hillary Clinton by six in the 2016 presidential race. READ | Abrams puts support behind Gwinnett MARTA expansion The Massachusetts Democrat recognizes the county’s potential for her party, she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution before taking the stage. “Gwinnett is the future, not just of Georgia, but of America,” Warren said. “This is a place where Democrats need to get out and make the case for what we are fighting for, and to enlist people from all around this county and around this state to make this a country that works, not just for a thin slice at the top, a country that works for everybody.” Warren was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd of about 1,100, filling the Central Gwinnett High School gymnasium. She used her time in Lawrenceville to introduce herself to the crowd, telling formative stories from her life that have shaped her political principles. The audience responded enthusiastically to Warren’s comments on implementing anti-corruption measures, raising the minimum wage and implementing a “Medicare for All” universal health care system. One protester was removed from the crowd, and others sported pro-Donald Trump and anti-abortion hats and signs outside the event. Ray Noblit, 66, made the four-hour trip to Lawrenceville from Cookeville, Tennessee, with his wife and daughter to see Warren. The family of three is undecided, but interested in Warren’s policies. Ann Austin, Noblit’s wife, is a fan of Warren’s work with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Noblit agreed, saying Warren’s focus is squarely on average citizens. “She represesnts the common people, not Wall Street,” Noblit said. Carrie Weston, of Marietta, waited outside Central Gwinnett High School for half an hour before doors opened Saturday. The 55-year-old has been waiting for Warren to run “for years.” “She can take on Trump,” Weston said, wearing a Warren 2020 sweatshirt. “She’s not scared. She doesn’t back down. There is no ‘no’ in her. She stands her ground.” Bailey Beebout, 17, of Grayson, brought his mom to see Warren at Central Gwinnett. Beebout has been interested in politics since he was 6 years old, when he was in the voting booth as his mother cast a vote in the 2008 presidential election. He’s excited he’ll finally be able to get into the voting booth on his own and wants to see every candidate who visits Georgia. Gwinnett County and other suburban metro Atlanta counties have increasingly voted Democratic in recent elections, leading many to speculate whether Georgia could become a swing state in the general election. Because of the 2018 governor’s race, decided by 1.2 percentage points, Weston thinks Georgia can’t be ignored. “Georgia is turning purple and I believe a lot of candidates realize that,” Weston said. “After Stacey Abrams, there’s no pushing us to the end of your tour.” Staff writer Michael Kanell contributed to this article. Like AJC on Facebook | Follow us on Twitter
  • A hundred miles southeast of Atlanta, some 2,000 acres of sawed-over timberland is about to be planted with what may be Georgia’s hottest crop: row upon row of solar energy panels. Juice from the nearly 600,000 panels in Twiggs County will flow in every direction, including north to energize metro Atlanta cellphone chargers, refrigerators and anything else that wants for electricity. A decade ago, coal was king in Georgia. Solar energy was written off as virtually meaningless in the eyes of Georgia Power, the state’s dominant electric company, and many other utilities. But a power shift is undeniably underway, and with it comes upsides for metro Atlanta consumers: A cheap source of energy and none of the carbon footprint that has been blamed for worsening climate change. Georgia Power’s newly updated 20-year energy plan calls for closing five coal-burning units. Additionally, two of the four at its largest coal facility, Plant Bowen in Cartersville, could be shuttered in the next few years. The utility would rely most heavily on inexpensive natural gas-burning plants. But it also plans to boost renewable energy generation by almost a third, likely mainly through solar rather than wind or biomass energy. Right now, the sun supplies just a fraction of Georgia Power’s energy: less than 3 percent of what it sold in 2018. The company declined to publicly disclose what it projects that number will be in the future. Yet its solar holdings have been growing for years. By one measure, it could amount to nearly a fifth of Georgia Power’s peak summertime generating capacity by 2024, according to public disclosures filed with the state. That would almost equal the capacity expected to come from all of Georgia Power’s remaining coal plants. It also would exceed the company’ nuclear power capacity, even after completion of the Plant Vogtle expansion, which is years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. The sun’s rise might not stop there. Advocates predict that declining prices for solar equipment will add pressure on Georgia Power to rely on solar energy even more than what the company proposes. And they have a potential ally in state utility regulators, all Republicans, who began pushing Georgia Power toward sunlight several years ago. Why? Solar panel efficiency soared and prices plummeted even faster than many expected. Low interest rates enticed project backers. Rural land was cheap and often flat. Sunshine was plentiful. Other locales had found solar could work. “I call it the perfect storm for solar in Georgia,” said longtime Georgia Public Service Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald. When Georgia Power didn’t propose a single new watt of solar power, McDonald pressed for a solar infusion. He won just enough support from fellow elected members of the PSC, which regulates the utility. They didn’t, though, use the word mandate, a politically dangerous term in the state’s conservative circles. Concerns over humidity, low clouds dissipate Solar continues to grow nationally, even as President Donald Trump, whom McDonald supports, has pushed to revive the U.S. coal industry. The president’s administration also has worked to undo some carbon-limiting regulations that further threatened coal. Still, the number of U.S. coal plants continues to shrink. Georgia Power says its coal-fired generating capacity is nearly half what it was in 2005. And there’s no turning back for solar, said James Marlow, who previously led Atlanta-based engineering and installation company Radiance Solar. “The only thing I’m absolutely certain of is there is going to be a lot more solar, and it is driven by economics.” A mix of market and government moves are providing some of the fuel around the nation, even as temporary tariffs on imported Chinese solar panels appeared to slow growth. Florida Power & Light recently announced plans to install in excess of 30 million solar panels by 2030. And California is requiring that all new homes include solar power, starting next year. For metro Atlanta consumers, the increase in solar could help hold down monthly power bills, though perhaps not enough to prevent projected increases tied to the Vogtle nuclear expansion. Solar has no fuel costs. And it is free of some toxic leftovers and air pollution, including carbon emissions. There are concerns. Solar energy is intermittent, affected by everything from nighttime to the sun sitting lower on the horizon during the winter. For years, power companies viewed solar as inefficient, expensive, sporadic and a threat to their business model in both the short and long term. Some state regulators concurred. “Georgia’s humidity and low cloud cover make it a very unlikely and high-cost source for production in Georgia,” then Georgia Public Service Commissioner Stan Wise wrote in 2009. But the weather proved not to be such a barrier. Johan Vanhee of solar developer Origis Energy, part of a cottage industry that has grown nationally, recalled visiting Georgia seven years ago despite the cautions he heard. “People told me not to look at the Southeast because the Southeast is not looking for renewable energy,” Vanhee said. Now, he is developing his fourth and fifth solar installations that will supply energy to Georgia Power. That includes the Twiggs County project, expected to be the largest in the state. It is slated to go on line late this year and generate enough peak electricity to power 35,000 homes. A variety of other big and small players are aiming at the sun. Facebook’s nearly 1 million-square-foot data center planned east of Atlanta in Newton County will get electricity from proposed solar outposts. (Cox Enterprises, which owns The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, also has invested in solar projects.) In South Georgia’s Terrell County, farmer Ronnie Lee spent $1 million to put panels on his drying shed and nearby land. Now, a solar company is installing panels on 15 acres where he grew cotton just last year. Meanwhile, Georgia Power has closed a number of aging, expensive coal units and significantly increased its reliance on less-polluting and more affordable natural gas-burning plants. Georgia still moving more slowly than some other states In its latest energy plan, which it is required to update and get PSC approval of every three years, the company is calling for nearly twice as much new renewable energy as what it had proposed last time. But the proposed 1 gigawatt of additional renewables is still less than what the company ultimately agreed to in 2016. Georgia Power also wants to create energy storage that could be paired, in part, with solar energy generation. It is pursuing a “steady and measured approach to adding renewables,” a company spokesman wrote in an email to the AJC. That “allows us to capture the current market benefits and mitigate the risk of upward pressure on rates as costs decline and efficiencies improve.” Environmental groups were torn between offering some praise and criticizing the company. Adding solar and reducing coal are good moves, they said. But Georgia Power has failed to improve weak energy efficiency programs and isn’t moving aggressively enough on either solar or coal, some said. “They should be much more bullish on solar,” said Stephen Smith, the executive director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. Pushed by the PSC, Georgia was once one of the fastest growing states for solar in the nation. But the state’s momentum has eased compared with others, he said, speculating that Georgia Power has been distracted by troubles with its nuclear expansion project. The state is now ranked 11th nationally on installed solar energy capacity, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. It’s behind not only sunny places such as Florida, Texas and California, but also North Carolina, New Jersey and New York. While Georgia officials have sometimes encouraged solar, they haven’t enacted the robust incentives of some other states. Most of Georgia’s solar action has been centered around sprawling fields of solar panels often under contract to utilities. Less is being done with home rooftop systems that give consumers more control over their bills and less reliance on utilities. Federal tax credits exist, but will expire soon for residential customers and decrease sharply for businesses. Some Georgia utilities charge steep extra monthly fees for solar-powered homes connected to their system, while offering only small bill credits for extra power they produce and feed to the grid, said Russell Seifert, who chairs the Georgia Solar Energy Association and founded Kennesaw-based solar installer Creative Solar USA. So while residents in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana and Virginia added thousands of new residential solar systems over the last two years, Georgians added just 57, according to SEIA. Said Seifert, “We are talking the rabbit and the turtle.”
  • A Georgia father was arrested after his 2-year-old child ingested methamphetamine at home on Thursday, officials said. According to a statement from the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office, Keith Edward Teubner Sr. was charged after the toddler was taken to WellStar Spalding Regional Hospital on Thursday. Investigators found that the child had ingested meth in the father’s bedroom, the statement said. “Further information revealed that the father was aware of the child ingesting the drugs but did not seek medical care,” the sheriff’s office said. Officials said they found meth, marijuana and drug-related objects in Teubner’s bedroom. He was charged with second-degree child cruelty, possession of meth, possession of marijuana less than one ounce and possession of drug-related objects.  The state Division of Family and Children Services took custody of the child. The sheriff’s office did not release the current condition of the toddler. In other news:

News

  • When he made the announcement he was declaring a national emergency, President Donald Trump said he expected to be sued over the move. So far, a handful of activists and even state attorneys general have said they are looking at taking the president to court or have filed a lawsuit already.  Take a look at the lawsuits that are currently pending or will soon be filed. Public Citizen Public Citizen is an advocacy group that filed a suit Friday after the president’s Rose Garden announcement. The group is filing on behalf of three Texas landowners and an environmental group to block the emergency decree. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., The Washington Post reported. >>Read: Can Congress repeal the national emergency declaration? Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington hasn’t filed suit directly on Trump but instead is suing the Justice Department, claiming documents were not provided, including legal opinions and communications, related to Trump’s decision, USA Today reported. The group is using a Freedom of Information Act request submitted concerning the proposed border barrier. Center for Biological Diversity Center for Biological Diversity is an environmental group. It claims the president did not identify a legal authority to declare the emergency. The group said the wall will block wildlife from its natural habitat “and could result in the extirpation of jaguars, ocelots and other endangered species within the United States,” according to the Post. >>Read: Trump signs funding bill to avoid government shutdown, declares emergency to build border wall American Civil Liberties Union The ACLU has not yet filed but is preparing a suit that says that Trump can’t redirect the money paid by taxpayers unless it is for construction that directly supports the military, the Post reported. ACLU officials said the suit will be filed early this week, saying, “There is no emergency. Members of Congress from both parties, security experts, and Americans who live at the border have all said so. What the president is doing is yet another illegal and dangerous power grab in the service of his anti-immigrant agenda.” The group called the declaration an “abuse of power” and says it “violates the constitutional checks and balances that protect us.” >>Read the latest from our Washington Insider Jamie Dupree The ACLU is using the president’s own words against him from when he said, “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.” >> Read more trending news  California attorney general Xavier Becerra, the attorney general of California, will be joined by New Mexico, Oregon, Minnesota, New Jersey, Hawaii and Connecticut in trying to stop the emergency declaration from proceeding. >>Read: National emergency likely to be blocked by courts, DOJ tells White House: reports “We’re confident there are at least 8 billion ways that we can prove harm. And once we are all clear, all the different states are clear, what pots of money that taxpayers sent to D.C. he’s going to raid, which Congress dedicated to different types of services -- whether it’s emergency response services or whether it’s fires or mudslides in California or maybe tornadoes and floods in other parts of the country or whether it’s our military men and women and their families who live on military installations that might -- that might have money taken away from them, or whether it’s money taken away from drug interdiction efforts in places like California, a number of states, and certainly Americans, will be harmed. And we’re all going to be prepared,” Becerra said on ABC News’ “This Week.”  >>Read: Trump's border wall: What is a national emergency? A spokesperson for the attorney general of Colorado, Phil Weiser, said his state will also be joining the suit, KDVR reported. The spokesperson said Weiser decided that the state will be hurt if money is transferred from military installations to the wall, according to KDVR.
  • From a court watcher’s perspective it’s apparent to most that the upcoming trial of Ryan Duke, charged with the 2005 murder of South Georgia high school teacher Tara Grinstead is sure to be nothing short of a spectacle of epic proportions. We got a preview of things to come during - of all things - a bond hearing where Duke asked, for the first time in two years, to be released on bond. It wasn’t the denial of bond, nor the fact that Duke asked for bond that is particularly noteworthy. It’s what the bond hearing devolved into that raised eyebrows. Despite losing the motion, the defense unexpectedly was able to depose the lead GBI investigator on a wide range of topics in a dress rehearsal for what promises to be a most controversial trial.  To start, let’s have a look at what a bond hearing is supposed to be.  It’s uncommon for bond to be set in murder cases but it’s not unheard of. Courts are supposed to consider the following factors in making bond decisions and the burden of proof is on the defendant to show that he:  Poses no significant risk of fleeing from the jurisdiction of the court or failing to appear in court when required;  Poses no significant threat or danger to any person, to the community, or to any property in the community;  Poses no significant risk of committing any felony pending trial; and  Poses no significant risk of intimidating witnesses or otherwise obstructing the administration of justice.  Probable cause is not an issue and of course neither is guilt or innocence. A bond hearing is not a trial.  The Duke bond hearing started out as most bond hearings do. The defense called Duke’s brother to testify regarding each of the factors set out above. But then it started a downward spiral into the surreal when the prosecutor called the lead GBI case agent as a witness - presumably as a rebuttal to the defense. A state’s witness, such as an investigator, can occasionally testify - to a point - about “what happened” because that’s relevant - to a point - for the court to determine whether the person poses a danger to the community. But in this case, the testimony was literally all over the place and went into minute detail about many things that have never been heard before. The “bond hearing” was effectively transformed into a deposition - a legal luxury not normally available to a criminal defendant in Georgia.  So just what did we learn from this “bond” hearing? We learned that DNA from the bodily fluid of a police officer was mixed with the victim’s blood on some bedding and that “touch DNA” from Grinstead and Duke (along with DNA from at least two other people) was on a latex glove found outside her residence. “Touch DNA” has its own share of problems in terms of reliability and we can safely expect the defense to explore those problems at trial. Some of that other unidentified DNA from the glove could have come from Bo Dukes - the person accused of helping cover up the murder - and who the defense claims is the actual killer.  We learned there were many investigative steps that could have been taken to verify statements made by both Duke and Dukes. The defense will argue that these follow up steps point to a biased investigation. This could have a huge impact in a trial where the defense will claim that the defendants confession was a false confession.  We learned the GBI, in a breach of protocol and constitutional law, interviewed / talked with Duke twice after he had a lawyer. These interviews were undocumented in the GBI case file. They were not recorded. The DA apparently was unaware at the time that this tactic was being employed by the GBI until the defense raised it with them. The agent didn’t even sign in at the jail. We can only speculate as to why not.  On top of all this, an abundance of otherwise inadmissible evidence consisting of hearsay and innuendo managed to come out publicly at a bond hearing. Most of this wouldn’t have seen the light of day at a trial. As the prosecution correctly pointed out “hearsay” may be admissible at a bond hearing, but it still has to be reliable evidence - not a regurgitation of all the salacious rumors from 2005. And it must be relevant to the issue of bond. It may turn out that the DA made a great tactical mistake by calling their lead case agent to testify and turn this bond hearing into an evidentiary free-for-all with no apparent boundaries. At a minimum it was surely heartbreaking for friends and family of the victim to have to re-live all the pain of the last 13 years by having old wounds reopened in such painful detail.  I’ve previously written about why the venue for this trial really needs to be changed. Now more than ever the jury pool is really tainted - as if it weren’t already. Philip Holloway, WSB legal analyst, is a criminal lawyer who heads his own firm in Cobb County, Georgia. A former prosecutor and adjunct professor of criminal justice, he is former president of the Cobb County Bar Association's criminal law section. Follow him on Twitter: @PhilHollowayEsq The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 
  • Police in Kansas City, Kansas, arrested a man Sunday suspected of carjacking a vehicle, stealing the driver’s phone and taking off with two children in the car, the The Kansas City Star reported. >> Read more trending news  Police said a woman was making a delivery in the area when the suspect, armed with a rifle, took the vehicle, WDAF reported.  The woman ran to a store to call police, the Star reported. “It was as bad as you would think if someone had your kids,” the store manager, Robert Edwards, told the newspaper. “She was as stressed as you would imagine. I’m glad she got the kids back.” The two children, 4 and 7, had been taken out of the car and were found by a neighbor, who called police the Star reported. The children were not injured and were returned to their mother, the newspaper reported. According to Kansas City police, the suspect returned to the scene, leaving the original vehicle and then stole a second car at gunpoint, WDAF reported. Police were able to catch the suspect, who was driving a blue SUV, and returned it to its owner, the Star reported.
  • At the same time President Donald Trump was making a Rose Garden announcement Friday declaring a national emergency to fund a wall along the country’s southern border, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced they would fight Trump’s declaration “using every remedy available.” >> Read more trending news Pelosi and Schumer did not lay out specific remedies they might employ to stop the president from diverting funds from other projects to use to construct a border wall, but several Democrats members of Congress have promised a joint resolution of disapproval aimed at repealing the declaration and stopping Trump’s plans. Would Congress be successful in passing a resolution that would hamper the president’s bid to fund border security by declaring a national emergency? It’s possible, but not likely. >>Trump's border wall: What is a national emergency? Here’s a look at what could happen. A resolution of disapprovalCongress could approve a resolution that contests the status of the national emergency Trump has declared. They can do so under the National Emergencies Act of 1976. The resolution, if passed, would stop the plan to divert money from other government programs to build the border wall. The resolution could pass with a simple majority vote in the House and Senate – 218 votes in the House and 51 in the Senate. There is a Democrat majority in the House where a resolution could easily pass. There are 48 Democrat members of the Senate. Democrats would need four Republicans to vote with them to pass a joint resolution. Reps. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, have said they will introduce a bill in the House to block the declaration. By Friday afternoon, Castro told The Washington Post he had gathered more than 60 co-sponsors for the resolution. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, told ABC's “This Week” that she believes the Senate has enough votes for such a resolution. 'I think we do,' she said. 'Now, whether we have enough for an override and veto, that's a different story. But frankly, I think there's enough people in the Senate who are concerned that what he's doing is robbing from the military and the DOD to go build this wall.' If a resolution should pass both chambers of Congress, it would go to the president’s desk for a signature. The president would almost certainly veto the resolution, marking the first time in his term he has used the veto power. If he does veto the resolution, it would go back to Congress where it would require a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate to override the veto. In the House, 290 votes would be needed. In the Senate, the number would be 67. A lawsuit – or several of them The president has broad powers under the National Emergencies Act, so until the provisions of Trump’s declaration are made public, it’s unclear what someone could sue him over concerning the declaration. But sued he will be -- some suits are already in the works  -- and here is where those suits could come from: Congress: It’s likely that House Democrats would sue on grounds that the president overreached his powers by bypassing the power Congress has to control funding for government programs and projects. However, Democrats in Congress would have to first establish that they have the right to sue the White House, and that can be difficult since the president was given the authority to declare a national emergency under the National Emergencies Act in 1976. The House could challenge Trump's definition of an emergency, but the definition in the National Emergency Act is vague, leaving what is a national emergency pretty much up to the president. Activist groups: The American Civil Liberties Union said on Friday it plans to sue the president over what they call his “unconstitutional power grab that hurts American communities.” Landowners: Those who own land along the area where the president has proposed a border wall could file suit over the seizure of their property if that happens. However, the government is generally allowed to buy up private property for public use – such as when privately-held land is taken to make room for a freeway. The practice is called eminent domain. It is often an uphill fight for landowners. States: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has promised that he will file a suit against the White House claiming that his state will be harmed if Trump diverts funds from other projects to build a wall. He said that four other states, New Mexico, Oregon, Hawaii and Minnesota will join his state in the pending lawsuit.Nevada’s attorney general has also threatened a suit.
  • A man has been targeting dessert shops in a Texas town, committing four robberies -- two in the same business, KHOU reported. >> Read more trending news  The Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt shop in Cypress was robbed Jan. 15, the television station reported. Surveillance cameras caught a bald man with a goatee, who walked up to the cash register, yanked it open and took the money, KHOU reported. 'I saw him and I saw what he was doing,' store manager Debra Santos told the television station. 'You just don't know people now a days. I didn't know if he had a gun or a weapon.' On Feb. 14, the bald bandit struck again, robbing a different Orange Leaf in Cypress, KHOU reported. Later that day, the man robbed Shipley’s Donuts in Cypress. The manager chased the thief, but the man sped away in a white car, the television station reported. On Feb. 16, the thief returned to the Orange Leaf he had robbed a month earlier, taking the store’s second cash register, according to KHOU.  'He said, ‘I'm sorry I have to do this,’ and he ripped the cables and took off again,' Santos told the television station. Santos said she hopes the thief’s robbery pattern will trip him up. 'I hope they catch him soon,' Santos told KHOU. 'He seems to be repetitive, so hopefully he'll have a break in his pattern and they'll catch him.
  • A baby made its entry to the world on a flight to Florida. USA Today reported that, according to JetBlue Airways spokeswoman Jen Dang, the “youngest customer to date” was born on a two hour, 50 minute flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Friday. >> Read more trending news  'We’d like to thank the crew and medical professionals on board for their quick action under pressure, and wish the new mother and son all the best,” Deng told WTVJ. “Flight 1954 was operated on aircraft N523JB, coincidentally named, ‘Born to Be Blue.’” According to a tweet from JetBlue, the baby boy was given shower gifts and can expect more to come.