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Grading how the Georgia football 2016 recruiting class ended up performing

Grading how the Georgia football 2016 recruiting class ended up performing

Grading how the Georgia football 2016 recruiting class ended up performing

Grading how the Georgia football 2016 recruiting class ended up performing

Welcome to Good Day, UGA , your one-stop shop for Georgia footballnews and takes. Check us out every weekday morning for everything you need to know about Georgia football, recruiting, basketball and more.

A look back the 2016 Georgia football recruiting class and re-grade

Kirby Smart did not have much time on his hands. He had just a few weeks to cobble together a recruiting class prior to the start of his head coaching career. There were a few 5-star prospects available, including quarterback Jacob Eason.

That first class had a few high-profile misses most notably Derrick Brown and Demetris Robertson but Smart was still able to land the nation's No. 6 signing class.

Four years later, most of the members of the 22-man class have finished their college careers. Only two members of Smart's inaugural class will be on the 2020 Georgia team. The rest have either graduated, moved onto the NFL or finished their college careers elsewhere.

Below, we take a look at how each of the 21 signees and one multi-year transfer did in their Georgia careers.


These are the players who did not finish their careers at Georgia. These players include: 5-star quarterback Jacob Eason, 4-star defensive end Chauncey Manac, 4-star linebacker Jaleel Laguins, 4-star cornerback Chad Clay, 3-star offensive lineman Chris Barnes and punter Marshall Long.

Eason was the highest-rated signee in the class, but following the emergence of Jake Fromm in 2017, he elected to finish his college career at Washington. Clay had the shortest stay in Athens, as he was dismissed from the team in June of 2016.

Related: Former Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason thanks UGA as he declares for 2020 NFL Draft

C's get degrees

These are guys who finished their Georgia careers but never really emerged as impact or even key players. Not every prospect is going to be a star at the college level, but a number of these guys were able to fill valuable roles for the Bulldogs.

Michail Carter:Georgia landed Carter on National Signing Day in 2016. He was rated as a 4-star defensive tackle and the No. 122 player in the country. He ended up playing a small part in the defensive line rotation for Georgia as a senior, but he never really shined in his time in Athens. Georgia always rotates a number of defensive linemen making it difficult for some players like Carter to stand out.

In his Georgia career, Carter finished with 15 total tackles. He played in 13 games as a sophomore in 2017, the most in his Georgia career.

Julian Rochester: The defensive tackle is one of just two players still in Athens. He ended up redshirting this past season after suffering an ACL injury in the Sugar Bowl loss to Texas at the end of his junior season.

Rochester has been solid when healthy, as he racked up at least 2.0 sacks in each healthy season at Georgia. But he's never been spectacular and certainly hasn't lived up to his status as Georgia's highest-rated defensive signee, which he was for this cycle.

But Rochester still has time and an opportunity this coming season as the Bulldogs will have to replace five defensive linemen from their 2019 rotation. A big 2020 could help bump up his stock.

David Marshall:Georgia also landed Marshall on National Signing Day in 2016, as the Bulldogs got him to flip his pledge from Auburn to the home-state Bulldogs.

Marshall was a 3-star recruit and the No. 433 player in the 2016 class. He had some promising moments, especially early on in his Georgia career, as he racked up 6.0 tackles for loss in his first two seasons for Georgia. But he was never the same player after suffering a foot injury in his junior season.

His best season at Georgia came in 2016, when he had 2.5 sacks for the Bulldogs. Had he stayed healthy for his entire Georgia career, he likely finishes with a better grade.

Tyrqiue McGhee:McGhee signed with Georgia out of Peach County High School in the 2016 class and proved to be a valuable piece for Georgia's secondary. He was the lowest-rated defensive signee in the class as the nation's No. 635 player, but he had a better college career than that.

He started nine games in his Georgia career and his most memorable play was likely an interception against Florida in 2018. He also played a key role at cornerback for Georgia when the Bulldogs were shorthanded against Notre Dame this past season. McGhee did miss four games in his senior season due to an injury.

Charlie Woerner:He never put up big numbers for Georgia but he was long a key player for the Bulldogs at tight end. If blocking were as celebrated as pass-catching, Woerner would definitely land in the B category.

But in none of his years at Georgia was he the leading receiver at the tight end position. He did not catch his first touchdown pass until his final regular-season game against Georgia Tech.

Still, Woerner is one of the more beloved Georgia players of the Smart era, given his approach to the game. He was also a valued leader for the Bulldogs in his time in Athens.

Tyler Simmons:Simmons was a blown call away from being a B. We're referencing the infamous blocked punt that was called off in the 2018 National Championship Game against Alabama. This naturally spawned millions of "Tyler Simmons was onsides" memes.

Eventually, Simmons worked was his way from special teams standout to starter at wide receiver for his senior season. His last year proved to be his best, as he finished with 21 catches for 255 receiving yards.

Related: Retiring referee admits they blew Tyler Simmons call in national championship game

B good but not great

Brian Herrien:Herrien was a late signee in the 2016 class, but he made the earliest impact as he scored a touchdown in his first career game against North Carolina in 2016.

Given the talent in Georgia's backfield, Herrien never became a featured back. But he always seemed to make the most of his limited opportunities and proved to be a nice compliment to D'Andre Swift as a senior.

He finished with at least 250 yards in each of his college seasons and had he played against Baylor in the Sugar Bowl, likely would've topped the 500-yard mark. Herrien was the lowest-rated skill player at Georgia in the class, but it's hard to argue that he didn't get the most out of his Georgia career.

Riley Ridley:If Ridley played every game like he did against Alabama, he'd probably be in the A category. In his two games against the Crimson Tide, he combined for 11 catches for 141 yards and a touchdown. His best skill was his ability to get open against elite competition. He also had a huge touchdown catch against Tennessee as a freshman, which has largely been forgotten to time due to the ending of that game.

In his junior season, Ridley ended up leading the Bulldogs in catches, yards and touchdowns. His early departure for the NFL draft certainly hurt Georgia's passing offense in 2019.

Prior to the first Alabama game, Ridley had just 20 catches in his college career. He had 50 over the next 15 games for Georgia. If the beginning of his career was a little bit better, he'd have a case for being in the A category.

Javon Wims:Wims didn't spend as much time in Athens as his fellow 2017 signees as he was a JUCO prospect. But he made the most of his two seasons in Athens.

Wims ended up being the leading receiver on Georgia's 2017 team that ended up playing for the national championship game. He caught 45 passes that season for 720 yards and seven touchdowns for Georgia.

He also had a key touchdown in the win over Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl.

Ben Cleveland: In addition to Rochester, Cleveland is the only other member of Georgia's 2016 class still on campus. Cleveland was the first player to stick with his pledge to Georgia once Smart took over.

He redshirted his freshman season and didn't really begin to contribute until after the loss to Auburn in 2017. After that game, he was inserted into the starting lineup and helped make a difference in the SEC championship game and Rose Bowl.

An injury cost him most of 2018 and he spent much of 2019 rotating with Cade Mays at the right guard spot. But following significant attrition on the offensive line, Cleveland figures to be a key player for the Georgia offensive line in 2020. And a strong final season could help his standing.

Related: Ben Cleveland: He's following through on a plan to return to UGA in 2020

Isaac Nauta: The 5-star tight end prospect was one of the big wins at the start of Smart's Georgia tenue. And he had a strong freshman season, where he caught 29 passes for 361 yards and 3 touchdowns.

His sophomore season saw him take a big step back, as he finished with only nine catches for 114 yards. But a bounce-back year as a junior saw him live up to that lofty ranking. He decided to head to the NFL instead of returning for a senior season. The Bulldogs likely wish he would've returned, especially given his strong game in the 2018 SEC Championship Game.

Had Nauta played better in his sophomore year where he was catching passes from freshman Jake Fromm maybe he is in the A category.

Elijah Holyfield:Holyifled may not have had the consistency that Herrien did over his Georgia career. But the other 2016 running back signee also never had a year as strong as Holyfield did in 2018.

Holyfield took full advantage of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel's departures, as he rushed for a career-best 1,018 yards and seven touchdowns. He and Swift helped power the Georgia rushing attack and really make-up for the loss of two of the best Georgia running backs in program history.

After a strong junior campaign, Holyfield elected to head to the NFL. Some would've liked to see him return to Georgia for his senior season, but you can't argue that he was a successful player during his time in Athens.

Top of the class:

Solomon Kindley:Despite Cleveland taking his starting spot during the 2017 season, Kindley rebounded and had stronger performances in 2018 and 2019. There was no rotating at the left guard spot on the Georgia offensive line, as Kindley only missed snaps due to injury.

Kindley was the lowest-rated offensive player in the class, as he did not even have a ranking in the 247Sports Composite. But thanks to his hard work and some assistance from offensive line coach Sam Pittman, he ended up starting plenty of games over his final three seasons in Athens.

Kindley actually had another year of eligibility, but he elected to enter the 2020 NFL Draft.

Tyler Clark:Of the four defensive linemen Georgia signed in this class, Clark easily went on to have the best career.

Clark really began to make a name for himself in the Rose Bowl, as he finished with five tackles and sack in Georgia's double-overtime win over the Sooners. He admittedly didn't have the season he wanted to as a junior, as he went from 6.0 tackles for loss to 4.0.

But he had his best year as a senior and emerged as a disruptive playmaker for the Bulldogs. His 8.0 tackles for loss led the team and were the second-most by any defensive lineman since Smart became the head coach.

Clark played a big role in Georgia having one of the toughest defensive lines in the country as the Bulldogs gave just two rushing touchdowns all season.

Mecole Hardman: Hardman committed to Georgia on National Signing Day and went on to live up to his 5-star status.

He spent most of his freshman season as a defensive back but when he made the switch to wide receiver, things really clicked. He caught 25 passes for 418 yards as a sophomore, with the highlight being his 80-yard touchdown catch against Alabama.

As a junior, he improved upon his numbers as he finished with 34 catches for 532 yards and seven touchdowns. He also became one of the best punt returners in the country, as he averaged 20 yards per return in his final season in Athens.

Related:Why Mecole Hardman winning a Super Bowl helps the future of Georgia football

Hardman went on to become a second-round pick for the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2019 NFL Draft. He made countless big plays as a rookie and ended up winning a Super Bowl. Not a bad stretch for a player who entered Georgia having played mostly as a quarterback in high school.

J.R. Reed:Reed technically did not sign with Georgia's 2016 class, as he arrived that summer as a transfer. He ended being the best player Smart brought in prior to coaching in his first game as Georgia's head coach.

After sitting out the 2016 season, Reed went on to start every game over the next three seasons. He made countless big plays as he became one of the best safeties in the country. He was a Jim Thrope Award Finalist and First Team All-American as a senior for the Bulldogs.

Reed came to Georgia as a transfer from Tulsa with very little fanfare. He left as a Georgia legend and one of the best players to play for Smart in his first four seasons.

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  • An Atlanta woman who claimed to be disabled, but also worked as an exotic dancer, has pleaded guilty to Social Security fraud. Valencia Williams told the Social Security Administration that she was disabled and rarely left home, but the SSA found out that wasn’t true. Williams told the government she had extreme anxiety and depression and couldn’t even leave her room. She qualified for disability benefits. But actually, she was allegedly working at Stroker’s Adult entertainment in DeKalb County under the name Chrissy the Doll. In 2010, Williams started getting Social Security benefits for major depressive disorder and panic disorder, but she got adult entertainer permits from DeKalb County in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018. Prosecutors said Williams stole $60,000 in federal funds that should have been going to people who are actually unable to work.
  • A Suwanee man and an Illinois man are accused of driving to Floyd County in hopes of sexually abusing children. Both were armed with guns during their trek, which netted them even more felony charges, authorities said. Jeffrey Howard Cronin, 55, of Suwanee, and Jonathan Donald McMurray, 32, of Wheeling, Ill., were arrested Tuesday, according to multiple local media reports. While Cronin’s drive to Floyd County was only about 100 miles, McMurray traveled 11 hours after allegedly trying to entice a child, the Rome News-Tribune reported. Cronin contacted a person online whom he believed was under the age of 16, and he talked about sexual acts he planned to do to the person, according to arrest warrants obtained by the newspaper. He traveled to the county to meet the person, but he instead met with authorities. McMurray’s case is similar, since he engaged in “sexual conversation” with someone online whom he thought was under the age of 16, according to arrest warrants obtained by the News-Tribune. He also arrived in Floyd County only to find law enforcement. The arresting officers found two firearms in McMurray’s possession and one firearm on Cronin, which earned them both counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, which is a felony, the newspaper reported. Both suspects were also charged with child molestation and obscene internet contact-related charges, the News-Tribune reported. They were booked into the Floyd County Jail, where they remained Wednesday morning. However, their names did not appear in the county’s online jail record system later Wednesday night, so it’s unclear whether they’ve been granted bond. AJC.com has reached out to the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office for more information. In other news:
  • Metro Atlanta hospitals are on high alert and trading information with public health departments. Local schools are using Lysol wipes in classrooms and devising contingency plans if they need to close. Businesses around Georgia are rethinking travel. After weeks of watching the coronavirus mushroom across China, then spread to other parts of Asia and jump to other continents, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now telling Americans they should prepare for potentially major disruptions to their daily lives. MORE: Close to 200 Georgia residents are being monitored for coronavirus MORE: What you need to know about coronavirus if you live in Georgia In Georgia, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19, as the virus is officially known, and which can range from mild illness to pneumonia and death. But the CDC has confirmed 60 cases in the U.S., which include 45 people who were repatriated from Wuhan, China or the Diamond Princess cruise ship. And health authorities expect that number to grow. MORE: Coronavirus outbreak in US. Not ‘if’ but ‘when,’ CDC says MORE: President Trump details coronavirus efforts  Atlanta has the world’s busiest international airport, where more than 1,000 travelers already have been screened for coronavirus, according to airport general manager John Selden. About 200 people have been put into self-quarantine at their homes after returning to Atlanta from China, he added. Many of the major players trying to contain the outbreak are based here - including Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, who has become the public face of the federal agency’s containment efforts in recent weeks. Messonnier, who lives in metro Atlanta, said Tuesday she told her family they are not at risk right now but called her children’s school district about what would happen if schools need to close. And while she said it was too early to tell how severe the outbreak will be in the U.S., she recommended businesses make contingency plans for employees to work from home. MORE: Stock market falls on coronavirus concern? Advisers still suggest calm Gov. Brian Kemp said he’s participated in two calls with President Donald Trump’s team and leaders from public health agencies and governors. He said he’s also in touch with county officials. “We’ll be ready for whatever comes. Hopefully it won’t be much, but if it, is we’ll be ready to respond to it,” Kemp said Wednesday. If coronavirus comes to Georgia, the state Department of Public Health will lead the charge against it. It said Wednesday it will adapt its detailed pandemic flu plan for a COVID-19 outbreak and that epidemiologists are on call 24/7 to help health care providers evaluate individuals with symptoms. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom’s office said Wednesday it is “encouraging private employers to review and update, if necessary, work continuity plans.” Metro area school districts began sending out emails to parents, encouraging hand hygiene, coughing into the elbow and staying home if sick. Some of the coordination among authorities appeared still to be in the early stages. The Georgia Association of Primary Health Care represents dozens of Federally Qualified Health Clinics across the state. As of Wednesday afternoon it had not yet received information on coronavirus protocols from its usual sources, the Bureau of Primary Health Care and the CDC, said executive director Duane Kavka. But he said he expected to soon. Preliminary reports suggest the fatality rate of the new coronavirus is between 1% and 3%, which would make it far less deadly than the related pathogen SARS, which killed 10% of people infected. But there are no vaccines or proven treatments for COVID-19. The new strain also appears to be more contagious than the flu, which kills tens of thousands of Americans each year. Curtis Harris, director of the University of Georgia’s Institute for Disaster Management, said hospitals and health care facilities in the state have plans for sudden increases in patients, such as converting offices into treatment space. He said Georgia officials and health care facilities already communicate closely about how to limit outbreaks, including steps as simple as isolating patients with symptoms. Health care organizations and officials in seven Southeastern states did training exercises late last year about how to deal with a U.S. outbreak of Ebola, which has a much higher mortality rate. But space and surge capacity is a “perennial problem” at medical facilities, he added. If a large number of people are sick, isolating and quarantining patients may not be feasible. Experts point out they may need to turn to telemedicine and triage, hospitalizing only the most critically ill. Dr. José Cordero, the department head of the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department at UGA, added it’s a good idea to get a flu shot — if you haven’t already — to avoid illness and using up medical resources. He recommended families and friends discuss emergency contingency plans for helping each other with everything from child care to meal sharing. And, he added, it may be sensible to have a couple weeks to a month’s worth of food supplies. The potential outbreak comes as the state’s health department faces budget cuts along with the rest of state government. In recent budget hearings, some lawmakers and witnesses said they feared cuts to epidemiology, immunization, infectious disease control and county public health department grants could hurt a future coronavirus response. That includes Dr. Robert Geller, medical director of the Georgia Poison Control Center, who said the center answers a public health hotline and then alerts epidemiologists of potential outbreak cases. If coronavirus sweeps Georgia, Geller said, even restoring the budget cut wouldn’t do: “We’ll need more money, not less money.” Georgia’s health department pushed back, saying a $49,000 cut to Geller’s center was a fraction of its $1.2 million budget. That and the other cuts would come out of unrelated expenses such as a consultant whose work was complete, it said. Cody Hall, a spokesman for Kemp, said budget cuts “do not in any way affect the Department’s ability to respond to a potential coronavirus case here in Georgia.” Eric Toner, a senior scholar at The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said the U.S. overall is “reasonably well prepared” for a mild pandemic, although even a mild one could put stress on emergency departments and intensive care units. He added the toll on hospitals would be much greater if the virus is particularly deadly, such as during the 1918 influenza pandemic that killed hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. and millions around the world. “No hospital is well prepared for that,” Toner said, adding “a lot of people would not have the access to critical care they would need to keep them alive.” But most people wouldn’t need that kind of care, he said. The risk to the average healthy individual likely would still be relatively low, with most people having flu-like symptoms and recovering quickly, he predicted. -staff writer Kelly Yamanouchi contributed to this article. » MORE: The flu more of a threat in Georgia than new coronavirus » RELATED: Atlanta’s Chinese community has especially deep worry about coronavirus
  • A metro Atlanta man said a twin-engine jet he was flying was having problems with its autopilot shortly before it crashed and killed four people earlier this month in northwest Georgia, according to a preliminary incident report released Wednesday by the National Transportation Safety Board. The Cessna Citation disappeared from radar Feb. 8 hours before its remnants were found in a remote part of Gordon County.  The pilot, Roy Smith, 68, of Fayetteville, his son, 25-year-old Morgen Smith of Atlanta, the son’s girlfriend, 23-year-old Savannah Sims of Atlanta, and 63-year-old Raymond Sluk of Senoia were found among the wreckage, according to Gordon County Deputy Coroner Christy Nicholson.  According to Heidi Kemner, an air safety investigator for the NTSB, the jet departed from Atlanta Regional Airport-Falcon Field in Peachtree City about 9:45 a.m. and was headed for Nashville, Tennessee. It was snowing at the time, but it’s unclear if the weather was a factor in the crash.  The report revealed the plane was having issues maintaining its altitude and direction before it disappeared from radar.  An air traffic controller told the pilot to return to the height and direction they were supposed to be traveling, and the pilot said he was having problems with the autopilot. The controller asked if everything was under control, and the pilot said they were “OK now,” the report said.  RELATED: 4 dead in Gordon County plane crash The technological problems persisted and the plane once again strayed from its elevation and direction.  The air traffic controller again asked if everything was all right, and the pilot said they were “‘playing with the autopilot’ because they were having trouble with it,” the report said.  The controller suggested turning the autopilot off and hand-flying the plane, according to the report. The pilot rose to a higher altitude, but according to the report he was never able to get out of the clouds.  The pilot later told a second air traffic controller that they were having instrumental issues on the left side of the plane and were working from instruments on the right side.  RELATED: Metro Atlanta father, son among 4 victims of Gordon County plane crash The plane rose farther and started to make a left turn, when air traffic control suddenly lost contact with it. The controller tried to reach the plane “numerous times” but did not get a response, the report said.  The area in which the plane was found was so hilly that it was accessible only by foot, Gordon County Chief Deputy Robert Paris told AJC.com. “The plane was discovered in one of the most remote areas of our jurisdiction,” Paris said, calling the crash site terrain treacherous. “We had to go in in four-wheel drive vehicles and ATVs and we had to walk a long way after that. It’s only accessible by foot.”  The left wing was still attached to the body of the plane, but part of the right wing had been torn off, according to the NTSB report.  “Several sections of wing skin” were found along the path of debris, the report said.  It took more than 24 hours to locate all of the victims, AJC.com previously reported.  The NTSB has not released a conclusive cause of the crash. In other news: 
  • An Oklahoma man who was convicted last June of kidnapping his stepdaughter, holding her captive for 19 years and fathering her nine children has been sentenced to life in federal prison. Henri Michelle Piette, 65, was sentenced Thursday to life in prison for kidnapping and 360 months, or 30 years, for traveling with the intent to engage in sexual acts with a juvenile. He was also ordered to pay a $50,000 fine and $50,067 in restitution to his victim, Rosalynn Michelle McGinnis. The names of victims of sexual crimes are usually withheld, but McGinnis went public about her ordeal shortly before Piette’s October 2017 arrest in Mexico. Piette claimed he had married McGinnis, whom he kidnapped from her Porteau, Oklahoma, middle school in 1997, when she was 12. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, Piette had been in a relationship with McGinnis’ mother. >> Related story: Man accused of ‘marrying’ 11-year-old stepdaughter, holding her captive for 19 years. Piette’s sexual abuse of McGinnis began when she was about 11, while he still lived with her family in Wagoner, according to an affidavit filed in federal court. In a 2018 interview with 41 Action News in Kansas City, Missouri, McGinnis said she was around 10 when he raped her for the first time. “According to R. Doe (McGinnis), she remembered when she was around 11 years old, (Piette) took her to a van and married her,” the affidavit says. “She added Piette gave her a ring and (Piette’s) son, Toby Piette, officiated the marriage.” The then-preteen and her family later moved to a home in Porteau, and McGinnis was soon kidnapped. Prosecutors argued at trial that Piette spent the next two decades raping her repeatedly and abusing her physically and emotionally. The affidavit states that McGinnis told investigators she was “introduced to (Piette’s) children as their new mother.” Though they traveled to numerous places in the U.S. and Mexico, Piette would occasionally return with McGinnis to Oklahoma and force her to mail letters there so her family would believe she remained close to home, the court document says. Watch Rosalynn McGinnis talk about her ordeal below, courtesy of 41 Action News in Kansas City, Missouri, where she was born and now lives with her family. “The victim gave birth to nine children, the first being born in 2000 when she was 15 years old,” a news release from U.S. Attorney Brian J. Kuester said. “In July 2016, the victim was able to escape with her children to the United States Consular General Offices in Nogales, Mexico.” The FBI was notified of McGinnis’ allegations, and a federal investigation began. “The investigation revealed, and the victim testified at trial, that the defendant had moved her and their children dozens of times within the United States and Mexico,” Kuester’s news release said. “The defendant used numerous aliases and forced the victim to use aliases, dye her hair and wear glasses to change her appearance. He controlled the victim by extreme violence, threats of violence, and sexual abuse against her and her children.” In a 2017 interview with People magazine, McGinnis described being raped, beaten with baseball bats, stabbed, choked and shot during her captivity. “I knew that if I didn’t get out of there, I’d either go insane or I would end up dying and leaving my kids with that man,” McGinnis told the magazine. Piette was still at large in Mexico when McGinnis spoke to People. He was later captured and returned to Wagoner County to face prosecution. Once he was back in the U.S., Piette told Fox23 News in Tulsa he was innocent. “Most of it are lies,” he told the news station as he shuffled into a courtroom for a hearing, surrounded by deputies. “Ninety-nine percent are lies. I’m telling the truth.” Piette denied raping McGinnis. “I never raped any children. I made love to my wife,” Piette said. “We were married.” Read the affidavit outlining Piette’s crimes below.  Kuester said it is fitting that Piette’s sentence, like the “horrific memories” he left McGinnis and her children with, will last a lifetime. “Life in prison is a sentence the law reserves for the most serious offenders – offenders like Henri Michelle Piette,” the federal prosecutor said. “For 20 years he inflicted extreme physical and emotional abuse on the victim and her children. For 20 years she feared for her and her children’s lives.” McGinnis told 41 Action News that she felt great relief following Piette’s sentencing. She expressed similar sentiments last year following his guilty verdict. “I’m just so happy that he is put away where he can’t hurt anyone anymore,” McGinnis told the news station. The station reported that Oklahoma state officials took Piette into custody last week following the verdict so he can face state charges filed in Wagoner County.
  • For more than 15 years, Dandre Shabazz got away with a string of violent assaults against women, according to prosecutors. But the evidence linking him to the crimes had been there all along. On Wednesday, the 56-year-old Shabazz was convicted, the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office said. It was the second conviction in five days in Fulton County that involved a lack of previous rape kit testing.  From January 2002 until March 2005, Shabazz attacked a dozen women in Fulton County. And those victims underwent sexual assault examinations at Grady Memorial Hospital. Then, those assault kits — containing Shabazz’s DNA — sat untouched for more than a decade.  That changed following a 2015 AJC investigation that revealed more than 1,300 rape kits were at Grady and had never been turned over to investigators. The following year, a new Georgia law required that all of the untested kits be submitted to the GBI for testing.  RELATED: Nearly 13 years later, DNA leads to rape conviction ALSO: Grady releasing 1,000 rape kits withheld from law enforcement In April 2017, the GBI contacted the Fulton DA’s office. Shabazz’s DNA was found on one kit, and then 11 others, the DA’s office said.  “This man was a violent and ruthless serial rapist. Because rape kits were not tested in a timely manner, he was allowed, not only to continue to prey upon the women of our community, but he almost got away with his brutal crimes, scot-free,” Fulton County DA Paul Howard said in an emailed statement. “I am thankful to all of the people who worked so hard to get these rape kits tested. The criminal justice system should never allow rape kits to go untested again.” In June 2018, a Fulton County grand jury indicted Shabazz in the rapes. By then, he was behind bars in federal prison. In 2006, he was convicted of several armed robberies as part of the “Daybreak Bandits” who targeted restaurants in the early morning hours.  Shabazz’s trial began Feb. 18 in Fulton County. Prosecutors told the jury Shabazz targeted young women who were alone late at night and assaulted them at gunpoint. But he didn’t use a condom, which linked him to the crimes.  Shabazz was convicted of kidnapping, armed robbery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated sodomy and aggravated child molestation, the DA’s office said. His sentencing is scheduled for Tuesday.