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Latest from Sandra Parrish

    The Georgia Bureau of Investigation celebrates 20 years of its ability to use DNA to solve crimes in Georgia. The agency began using the Combined DNA Index System or CODIS in 1998 which enables federal, state, and local forensic laboratories to exchange and compare DNA profiles electronically. Since that time, it has solved nearly 7,000 cases and assisted in more than 9,000 others.  “The GBI is proud that DNA not only identifies the guilty, it also exonerates the innocent,” says GBI Director Vernon Keenan.  A prime example is the case of John Jerome White, who spent 22 years in prison accused of raping, beating and robbing an elderly woman in Worth County in 1979. In 2007, the Georgia Innocence Project took on his case and DNA evidence, which wasn’t available to test during his trial, pointed to another man. James Parham, who was already in jail, had been in the original lineup but the victim pointed to White instead.  Keenan says the technology the GBI crime lab uses has also improved over the past 20 years.  “When we started out, it required a sample the size of the bottom of a Coke can to be analyzed and three to four months of analysis work. Now, we can take evidence the size of the top of a pin and have the work done in two to three days,” he tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.  The latest technology being tested is a rapid DNA test that would take just a couple of hours and a sample size not visible by the human eye.
  • One Gwinnett middle school student is in custody, while another is being called a hero after a teacher is stabbed inside her own classroom at Trickum Middle School in Lilburn.  As classes were changing, eighth-grader Mason Watler watched as a fellow classmate pulled an 8-inch butcher knife from his bookbag and stabbed his favorite teacher in the chest.  “I saw he called over the teacher. I don’t know what he wanted; but when he did, he pulled out the knife and stabbed the teacher right under her breast,” Watler tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.  Watler immediately went to the teacher’s aide and held his hoodie on her wound until help could arrive.  He then saw the 13-year-old suspect hold the knife to another student before being apprehended by the school’s resource officer.  “We’re very pleased that the officer was able to take the weapon away from the student without any other injuries to the officer or other students or anybody else at the school,” says Gwinnett County Schools spokesperson Sloan Roach.  She says the student faces charges of aggravated assault and bringing a gun onto school property. He will face school disciplinary action as well.  Roach says the teacher was alert and talking when she taken to the hospital.  Counselors will be at the school Tuesday for both students and teachers. The school’s principal sent out a second email to parents Monday night.  “As part of our response, we are making personal calls to the families of students who were in the classroom during this incident. That said, we are taking steps tomorrow to ensure we can support our students and staff and to help them have as normal a school day as possible. We will have an additional police presence at school tomorrow to provide our students and staff with an additional sense of security and to calm any anxiety.”  Watler says he still cannot believe what he witnessed. His mother Nikki McCart says she is proud of her son’s quick action to help his teacher.  “There were several teachers that called and thanked me and his dad, as well, for the job that we’ve done (and) for his heroism and that he just acted fast,” she says.
  • School in a mall-- it might just be the dream of some students but one in Gwinnett County will be dedicated later today.Phoenix High School’s new satellite location at Sugarloaf Mills will open its doors to students on Monday. Intended for 45 students, enrollment has already more than doubled. “They may work in the mall. They may live close by. They may frequent this area. This is on the public transportation route. So, it’s a good opportunity for students to have a place where they can come work or it’s close to their home,” says Gwinnett Schools Associate Superintendent Steven Flynt.
  • A robber who has targeted Subway restaurants around Metro Atlanta has been arrested in Tennessee.In the latest robbery last week at a Subway on Medlock Bridge Road in Gwinnett County, police say 34-year-old Zachary Miller can be seen patiently waiting for a sandwich before he jumps the counter and orders the employee to open the cash register.
  • Gwinnett county police charge three teenagers in last week’s murder of a young man near Suwanee.The three, identified as 17-year-old Franecha Torres, 17-year-old Nicholas Evans and 18-year-old Khalil Miller, were already in jail for a couple of armed robberies in the city of Suwanee. Sgt. Jake smith says those crimes led to them as suspects in the murder of 21-year-old Willian Tunchez of Lawrenceville.
  • One person is dead after his car crashes into a Lawrenceville gas station convenience store.Incredible surveillance video shows the car barreling through the parking lot of the Exxon station at the corner of Hwy 29 and Johnson Road traveling between 60-70 miles per hour. It just barely misses the gas pumps before crashing into the store. Demetrius O’Brien was sitting at the red light here when he saw it happen.
  • The newest high school sport for girls in Gwinnett County begins its first games next week.  Each of the school district’s high schools now has a flag football team thanks to a $110,000 donation from the Atlanta Falcons that pays for the equipment and customized uniforms.  The district is among only a handful of school systems in the country to offer the sport.  The demand among girls wanting to play was so high that the county’s largest high school, Mill Creek, had 400 girls try out for the 20-member team. Duluth High School had more than 70 interested.  “I immediately had enough for a Varsity, JV, and 9th grade team,” says Duluth head coach Brett Wilson.  He tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish he’d like to see the sport approved by the Georgia High School Association and sanctioned statewide.  All the girls on his team play at least one other sport including Senior Morgan Noil who hopes to get a basketball scholarship in college.  “I think it’s amazing because girls have always wanted to play football, but felt like they couldn’t because it’s a masculine sport,” she says.  Kimberlee Mankin, coach at Collins Hill High, believes it will have a lasting impact on the players.  “Anytime you can be a part of a team and be part of something, that’s beneficial the rest of your life,” she says.  Each Gwinnett team will play 14 regular season games with an end of year tournament. The first games begin next Tuesday.
  • One of the top haunts in the country opens its doors this weekend at its new home in Gwinnett County. After 20 years at its old location along I-85 in Norcross, the attraction now sits along West Park Place Road in Stone Mountain.  “We think that the new location is going to be incredible both for the show and for our patrons. It’s a much bigger location (and) we own the building, so we can make the modifications we need to really do this justice,” says co-owner Ben Armstrong.  He tells WSB Radio’s Sandra Parrish parking will be much better too with three lots available at no charge. And having queue lines both inside and outside is expected to move guests through faster.  Just like at the old location, there will be two shows this year: one with scary mummy-type monsters and the other a science-fiction thriller. As always, expect monsters to scare patrons as they wait in line or walk through the midway.  Armstrong, who was known to dress up himself through the years, says he now takes a supervisory role due to the size of the attraction.  “In a week or two I’ll know what I like and what I want to change. Right now, I just want them to see it,” he says.  Netherworld employs more than 400 people including 125 actors during its month-long season. Armstrong says the old location would typically see 75,000 visitors during that time and he hopes they’ll see as much, if not more, at this new one.  After this weekend’s preview on Friday and Saturday nights, the show will close for the week and then open nightly from Oct. 5 through Nov. 4.  The new location also includes three escape rooms which are open year-round.
  • A Gwinnett County woman, who reported to police she had been kidnapped at knifepoint, is now facing felony charges for making it all up.Detectives with the Gwinnett Police Department are waiting for 33-year-old Hillary Black to turn herself in on charges of falsely reporting a crime.Cpl. Michele Pihera says she told investigators a Hispanic man used a box cutter to threaten his way into her car after she withdrew money from the ATM at the Publix on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.
  • Lawrenceville Police investigators say a man arrested for the fatal hit and run of an elderly woman last week has an address less than a mile from the scene.  Tran Hong, 79, was hit and killed by someone driving a small U-Haul truck as she walked along Johnson Road to go the grocery store September 10th.  Lt. Jake Parker says 51-year-old Leonard Decouto ditched the U-Haul truck with front-end damage within two days of the accident. U-Haul recovered the vehicle in Duluth and notified police.
  • Sandra Parrish

    News Anchor Reporter

    Sandra Parrish has been a reporter for WSB Radio since 1995 and covers political, legislative, transportation, and educational news. She graduated from the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism in 1989 and worked as an anchor/news director for WPLO in Lawrenceville, an anchor/assistant news director for WNGC in Athens and an anchor/reporter for WDUN in Gainesville before joining the WSB news team. Over the years, she has received over a dozen Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for "Best Use of Sound", "Best Series", and "Best Sports Reporting". She's also received numerous awards from the Associated Press, Georgia Association of Broadcasters, Society of Professional Journalists, and National Association of Black Journalists. Sandra is a former member of the board of the Georgia Associated Press Broadcast Association. She is married with two daughters.

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  • After DeKalb County School District officials promised efforts to improve their hiring process, the district hired a teacher this summer who had been arrested in 2013 in New York for meth possession. Carl Hudson was arrested in 2013 for possession of methamphetamine, a felony, a few blocks from Flushing High School, where he was principal. According to the New York Daily News, he pleaded to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct and received a conditional discharge, meaning the whole incident would get wiped from his record if he did not have any other legal run-ins over the following year. Hudson’s case is like the series of hiring blunders that led DeKalb officials to admit to gaps in the district’s hiring processes while promising to correct those flaws. According to his resume, he moved to Atlanta in 2016 and found employment with Atlanta Public Schools, beginning as a long-term substitute before becoming a permanent hire, until he left the district this summer to teach math at Tucker High School. Atlanta Public schools officials said he worked for the district just over a year, ending in November of 2017. His arrest, though, was easily found through a Google search and according to Georgia teaching standards should have kept him from being employed by either school district. Superintendent Steve Green said Tuesday that being previously charged with a crime would not make someone ineligible for a job. District officials said they were not aware of Hudson’s arrest prior to hiring him. TRENDING STORIES: Police ID woman run over, killed at gas station; search for driver underway Michelle Obama extends national book tour, adds stop in Atlanta Officer shot in bulletproof vest during traffic stop, suspect killed Atlanta Public Schools officials did not say whether they were aware of his 2013 meth arrest, but said late Tuesday that results of standard background checks met their guidelines. According to the Code of Ethics for Educators, from the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, unethical conduct includes the commission or conviction of a felony, including a situation where the charge is disposed through diversion or similar programs. On his application, Hudson marked “no” when asked whether he had been convicted of any crimes in the last five years. On his resume, instead of listing the name of the high school where he worked, he wrote “NYC DOE High School,” or New York City Department of Education. Efforts to reach Hudson were not successful. District officials said he “walked off the job” Nov. 26. Bernice Gregory, the district’s human resources chief, said changes to the hiring procedure since she arrived at the district in April include having a second person — either Gregory or the director of employment services — perform a second candidate screening to ensure checks and balances on the district’s hiring checklist have been met. That could include a Google search and verifying a person’s job history for the past 10 years, talking to at least one reference who directly supervised the candidate. “We put another set of eyes on it,” Gregory said about the applications. “Once we put their names in Google, you know everything … is going to come up that’s out there.” The district recently joined the National Association of Teacher Education and Certification, which has a database giving the district access to convictions, arrests and charges against a potential candidate. Her staff is set to begin training this week to use that system. She said they also recently signed up for access to the Child Protective Services Information System, which essentially is a child abuse registry for the state of Georgia and would tell district officials whether someone had had as little as a child abuse complaint against them. A question added to applications will ask applicants if they have been asked to resign from a school district. During peak hiring times, Gregory said someone from her department will ask the question again. The district has gotten into trouble for sloppy hiring in the past, including a teacher hired last summer who had been fired from the Toledo, Ohio, school district on allegations that she assaulted students by putting them in headlocks and pushing them against walls. DeKalb County Schools placed Sandra Meeks-Speller on administrative leave on Oct. 10, 2017 pending an internal investigation, shortly after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution requested her personnel file and told district officials what was uncovered online about her past. Diane Clark was removed twice from the district in 13 months. The first time, in November 2016, she was allowed to retire early after several of her Cross Keys High School students claimed she made threatening comments about getting them deported immediately after President Donald Trump was elected. The second time was December 2017, after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution discovered Clark had been brought back to the district as a substitute teacher.  District officials admitted failing to do internet searches was among critical gaps in their background-check process, and promised changes such as verifying the work history candidates provide on their job applications and making direct contact with references.“Our background-check process certainly needs shoring up,” Superintendent Steve Green said last year. “We need to keep up with the times for ways there are to get information. In the old days, if you were cleared to teach in Ohio, you would be cleared to teach here.” District officials said in an email at the time that they would provide training sessions on interview tips, contact state boards where candidates are licensed and provide annual safety awareness training for some human capital management employees.
  • A Kentucky man is facing murder charges after allegedly slashing the throat of his sleeping 3-year-old niece early Saturday morning, news outlets reported. >> Read more trending news  The toddler’s father heard her screams over a baby monitor around 2:45 a.m. and was attacked by Emanuel Fluter, 33, when he tried to save his daughter, The Associated Press reported. Josephine Bulubenchi later died from her injuries at an Albany-area hospital. Fluter, a veteran, who had been living with the family in their rural Clinton County home, had been suffering from mental health issues, the child’s father and Fluter’s brother, Dariu Fluter, told WKYT-TV. “I want people to know that he loved his nieces and loved his nephews,' Dariu Flutur said. 'He loved us. He loved me and his sister.” The family told WKYT they forgive him for the alleged murder. 'He has a mental condition that he suffers with since he was in the army,' Dariu said. 'It's tough for us to understand because of what happened.' >> Trending: Texas firefighters rescue over 100 snakes from burning house, including pythons, boas There were four other children in the room at the time of the attack, but none of them were injured, police said. Fluter is jailed on $1 million bond and is due back in court on Dec. 18.
  • A metro Atlanta woman is accused of stabbing another woman to death at a Rockdale County motel and firing at officers during a chase. It happened at a Motel 6 in Conyers. Right after the murder, a statewide alert helped authorities in another part of the state catch the murder suspect, 42-year-old Joyce Marie Lewis-Pelzer. The alert also sparked new attention being put on the disappearance of another woman seven years ago. Last November, Channel 2 Action News followed up on the disappearance of Shawndell McLeod out of DeKalb County that is being investigated as a homicide. [READ MORE: 6 years later, this missing woman's case is now a murder investigation] While looking into Lewis-Pelzer, Channel 2's Matt Johnson found DeKalb court records that show McLeod took out a protective order against Lewis-Pelzer two months before the disappearance. Lewis-Pelzer is recovering at a south Georgia hospital after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said she led deputies on a high-speed chase that ended in Turner County. TRENDING STORIES: Police ID woman run over, killed at gas station; search for driver underway Michelle Obama extends national book tour, adds stop in Atlanta Officer shot in bulletproof vest during traffic stop, suspect killed 'Probably eight or nine minutes from mile marker 94 to mile marker 84 -- 10-miles stretch and it reached speeds of 110 miles per hour,' Sheriff Billy Hancock said. Deputies in Crisp County returned fire when she shot at them on I-75 Monday night. Authorities said she tried to head to Florida after stabbing her partner. A statewide alert helped a state trooper locate her car and attempt to make a traffic stop before authorities said Lewis-Pelzer kept going. It took two PIT maneuvers to stop her and the GBI said she fired at least one shot from her car toward deputies. As for the McLeod case, a Conyers police spokesperson said they're working with another department to look at the suspect further to determine her connection to an additional murder. The family of the victim at the motel is out of state and have not been notified of her death as of late Monday night. The accused killer has multiple domestic violence arrests in both DeKalb and Fulton counties.
  • Attorneys for President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn asked a judged to spare him prison time in a memo filed Tuesday. >> Read more trending news  In the filing, Flynn’s lawyers recommended for a sentence 'a term of probation not to exceed one year, with minimal conditions of supervision, along with 200 hours of community service, CNN reported. His attorneys said in the memo that “General Flynn accepted responsibility for his conduct and that his cooperation “was not grudging or delayed.” >> Related: Guilty: Michael Flynn admits in court to lying about Russian communication “Rather, it preceded his guilty plea or any threatened indictment and began very shortly after he was first contacted for assistance by the Special Counsel's Office.” Flynn is scheduled for sentencing next Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials. Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, recommended no jail time for Flynn in a filing last week. Original story: Attorneys for President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn are expected to make a sentencing recommendation Tuesday in a case brought by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office. Prosecutors with Mueller’s team said last week in court filings that Flynn has been cooperative since he pleaded guilty last year to making false statements to the FBI. In light of his assistance, prosecutors asked that Flynn receive little to no jail time for his crime, an argument Flynn’s attorneys are expected to echo, according to The Associated Press. >> Mueller investigation: Report recommends little to no jail time for Michael Flynn Flynn resigned from his post in the Trump administration in February 2017 after serving just 24 days in office. He pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials and agreed to fully cooperate with Mueller’s team.  Flynn is scheduled to be sentenced next week by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, according to court records.
  • A day of shopping at a New Jersey mall took a violent turn for three teenagers, who said they were beaten up by two women over a parking space. >> Read more trending news  The three friends - Taylor McFadden, 18; Tatum Bohanon, 19, and Alexandria 'Allie' DeRusso, 19 – told NJ.com that a car was waiting for their parking spot close to the Deptford Mall entrance, but that they weren’t ready to leave.  The girls think that’s what angered the women, who, at first, walked by their car with two men, and then returned and attacked them, McFadden said. She told NJ.com that one of the women hit Bohannon and the other woman punched DeRusso. “Both of my friends were on the ground at this point, getting punched,” McFadden told NJ.com. “I jumped out of the passenger side and I grabbed my phone so that I could call the police. People started coming over, but I think a lot of people were scared to get involved,” she said. When it was over, all three girls were treated at a local hospital. >> Trending: Father turns in daughter to face charges over starving dogs Authorities are investigating the incident.
  • California state lawmaker Joaquin Arambula was arrested Monday on suspicion of misdemeanor child cruelty, Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer said. The arrest came after officials at Dailey Elementary Charter School discovered an injury on a child who came into an office Monday afternoon, Dyer said. He did not describe the injury or Arambula's relationship to the child. He was cited for willful cruelty to a child, Arambula, a Democratic state assemblyman, is married with three young daughters. 'Joaquin is a committed father who wants what is best for his children,' his spokeswoman Felicia Matlosz said in a Tuesday statement. 'He is fully supportive of the process, which will show he is a loving and nurturing father.' Arambula is a former emergency room physician who won a 2016 special election to represent part of Fresno and the surrounding rural areas. His father Juan Arambula was a state assemblyman in the early 2000s. Officials at the elementary school reported the child's injury to child protective services, which called Fresno police, Dyer said. Officers called Arambula and his wife, Elizabeth, who both arrived at the scene. The child described how the injury occurred and said Arambula inflicted it, Dyer said. The police determined the injury happened Sunday evening. Arambula was cooperative and cordial, but he did not provide a statement to officers based on advice from his attorney, Dyer said. Officers were 'confident that a crime had occurred' and arrested Arambula on suspicion of willful cruelty to a child, Dyer said. He was taken in a patrol car to police headquarter, finger-printed, photographed and then released because his crime is a misdemeanor. The injury did not rise to the level of a felony. All school district employees in California are considered 'mandated reporters' under state law, meaning they are required to report known or suspected child abuse. They are not responsible for determining if an allegation is valid, according to the state Department of Education's website. They are expected to report if abuse or neglect is suspected or a child shares information leading them to believe it took place. They are then required to call law enforcement or child protective services, and law enforcement is required to investigate. A physical injury inflicted on a child by someone else intentionally is considered child abuse or neglect. Officials at the elementary school and Fresno Unified School District did not immediately respond to requests for comment. __ Associated Press writers Jonathan J. Cooper and Don Thompson contributed.