Friday, August 04, 2006

At the beach ...

I will be in sunny Charleston, S.C. at the beach. Sorry, no blog entries until Thursday.
-aj

Woman charged in fatal stabbing at Vann Thomas

A domestic dispute turned deadly at the Vann Thomas Motel late Wednesday night.
According to Anniston police, Samantha Olivia Houston, 28, has been arrested and charged with murder in the stabbing of the Steven Wilson Newton, 39, the man with whom she lived. Newton died of a single stab wound to the left side of the chest according to Calhoun County deputy coroner Shane Adrian.
The man was stabbed with a wooden-handled steak knife sometime between 11:50 and 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, police said.
He was pronounced dead at 12:46 Adrian said
Houston was at the motel at 3002 McClellan Boulevard in Anniston when police arrived on scene. She was arrested at 2 a.m. Thursday. The arrest report stated that she had been drinking at the time of her arrest, but was not armed and did not resist arrest.
The couple lived together in room number 126 of the motel, police said.
The report stated that Houston had not been arrested before the incident.
Police are still investigating the incident
Houston was in the Anniston City Jail waiting to be transferred to the Calhoun County Jail with her bond set at $50,000 on Friday. A court date has not been set.

-Andy Johns

DA's office nabs awards

By Andy Johns and Amanda Dewald
Star Staff Writers

Gary Carroll’s wife probably tried to be subtle when she suggested he change his shirt. The bright Hawaiian button down was appropriate for the beach - and after all, the District Attorney’s conference they were at was at the beach. But she knew something he didn’t.

Unbeknownst to him, Carroll unsuspectingly the Investigator of the Year award and his boss, Calhoun County District Attorney Joe Hubbard were about to be honored in front of their peers from across the state.

Carroll won the B.J. Gatlin Investigator of the Year award for his service as Calhoun County Chief Investigator and Hubbard received the Brad Morris District Attorney of the Year at the Alabama District Attorney Investigators Association. in July.

Taken together, the two men made history, as it was the first time that both recipients hailed from the same circuit.

Regarding Calhoun County’s 7th Circuit, Hubbard said, “It’s a great county. I’ve lived here 53 years and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world.”

The awards were presented during the annual summer conference of the Alabama District Attorney’s Association in Orange Beach.

“The people of Calhoun County are just really lucky,” said Madison County Chief Investigator Larry Smith, who presented the awards.

Recipients for both awards are chosen annually by a state-wide panel of investigators.

Smith said the panel listed Carroll’s work with the Cold Case Unit as a major factor in their decision to honor his work.

The Cold Case Unit investigates older cases that conventional police investigations have not been able to solve.

While the unit’s are gaining popularity in the state, Carroll’s work put Calhoun county up as one of the first.

“If I can change this world to leave it better than I found it, it’s worth it to me,” Carroll said.

Hubbard, too, was caught off guard.

“It came as a complete surprise. It’s an honor to be recognized by your peers, and by people I regard so highly,” he said.

“It’s the people in this office who put in all the hard work behind what gets accomplished, and they tend to make me look good,” he joked.

The Gatlin award has been around for 12 years, and the Morris award for 20 years, Smith said.

The circuit did not make a full sweep however, Nicki Patterson of Mobile County took the Assistant Prosecutor Award, which is named after Smith.

All three winners will have their names added to a plaque at the District Attorney’s Association in Montgomery.

Press Release: PRISON TERMS GIVEN FOR GUN AND DRUG CRIMES

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Alice H. Martin
United States Attorney
Northern District of Alabama
____________________________________________________
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 04, 2006
www.usdoj.gov/usao/aln

BIRMINGHAM, AL - In unrelated cases, two men were given lengthy prison sentences in cases prosecuted using the Project Safe Neighborhoods, Alabama ICE (Isolate the Criminal Element) Program. Alabama ICE continues efforts to make an impact on combating firearm crime.
BYRON MONDALE HINTON, 28, of Birmingham, Alabama, was indicted in December 2005 for being a felon in possession of a firearm. HINTON pled guilty to possession of a Marlin .30/.30 caliber rifle after a routine traffic stop involving shots fired. HINTON has two prior felony convictions. HINTON was sentenced to 61 months imprisonment by U.S. District Court Judge Karon Bowdre.
EARL DANIEL JOHNSON, 48, of Falkville, Alabama, was indicted in February 2006, for two counts of possession with the intent to distribute methampethamine, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime. JOHNSON pled guilty to the charges in April 2006, and was sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment by U.S. District Court Judge David Proctor.
“We are serious about prosecuting felons who illegally possess firearms in this district. Those who do will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” stated United States Attorney Alice H. Martin. “Alabama ICE is a very useful program to remove violent habitual offenders from our District and place them in a federal prison to serve substantial time,” added U.S. Attorney Martin.
Earlier this month 13 other similar cases were also indicted using the laws and statutes suitable under the Alabama ICE Program. Those names are withheld pending service of warrants.
The Alabama ICE program is utilized throughout the State of Alabama and has proven to be useful in ridding the communities of habitual violent crime offenders. The two cases mentioned above were investigated by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, Cullman County Narcotics Enforcement Team, along with special agents of the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant United States Attorney Joe Montminy prosecuted these cases on behalf of the U.S. Government.

For more information about the Alabama ICE Program please visit the U.S. Attorney’s Office website at www.usdoj.gov/usao/aln.

United States Attorney’s Office Press Releases are also on the Internet visit www.usdoj.gov/usao/aln

Jill Ellis, Public Information Contact

Weekly arrests

Area felony arrests
The people listed in this arrest report, whose names and charges are obtained from public records, are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.
Anniston Arrests
The following felony arrests were reported by the Anniston Police Department during the seven-day period ending Aug. 4 at 7 a.m.
• Stevie Darrell Moore, 44, of Anniston, possession of a con-trolled substance.
• Marvin Dewayne Wilson, 29, of Oxford, possession of a con-trolled substance.
• Tamika Lashorda Felton, 27, of Anniston, possession of a con-trolled substance.
• Carlos Wayne Smith, 24, of Anniston, receiving stolen property.
• Lafayette Deshaun Hill, 28, of Anniston, possession of marijuana.
• Robbie Bruce, 28, of Oxford, obstructing justice by using a false identity.
• Ginger Dee Phillips, 35, of Gadsden, possession of a controlled substance.
• Billy Gene Hayes, 58, of An-niston, possession of a controlled substance.
• Michael Christopher Haston, 32, of Munford, obstructing justice by using a false identity.
• Michael Linn Looney, 44, of Anniston, theft in the second de-gree.
Calhoun County
The following felony arrests were reported by the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office during the seven-day period ending Friday at 7 a.m.
• Armando Velente Agular, 25, of Munford, criminal possession of forged instrument.
• Katoria Latrice Moore, 24, of Anniston, failure to appear in court for charges of child abuse and pos-session of a controlled substance.
Oxford
The following felony arrests were reported by the Oxford Police De-partment during the seven-day pe-riod ending Friday at 7 a.m.
• Brandon Keith Lecroy, of Ox-ford, possession of short-barreled shotgun.
• Jeffery Lynn Bush, of Annis-ton, theft of property in the second degree.
• Phillip Lazabbi Grace, 24, of Oxford, theft of property in the second degree.
• Terry Wayne Szari, 40, of Ox-ford, burglary in the second degree.
• Cheryl Marie Crowe, 28, of Oxford, possession of a controlled substance, possession of short-barreled shotgun.
• Sandra Glinise Roberts, 45, of Oxford, possession of a controlled substance.
• Tyler Phagan Kiker, 19, of An-niston, theft of property in the first degree, possession of burlgar’s tools.
Jacksonville
The following felony arrests were reported by the Jacksonville Police Department during the seven-day period ending Wednesday at 7 a.m.
• None reported.
Weaver
The following felony arrests were reported by the Weaver Police De-partment during the seven-day pe-riod ending Wednesday at 7 a.m.
• None reported.

Blotter for Friday

Crimes are listed by location. Anonymous tips may be called in to Crime Stoppers at 238-1414. A reward of up to $1,000 may be given.
Anniston
The following property crimes were reported to the Anniston Police Department during the 24-hour period ending at 7 a.m. Friday.
Thefts
• Residence, 300 block of Christine Avenue in Anniston – miscellaneous jewelry, Davis .32-caliber pistol, serial number P069686
Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office
The following property crimes were reported to the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office during the 24-hour period ending at 7 a.m. Friday.
Thefts
• Residence, 300 block of FourMile Drive in Anniston – 12-stone diamond ring. 20-inch gold rope necklace, woman’s size six wedding band, gold Mason ring, gold coin, seven-inch rope bracelet
Auto-related thefts
• Residence, 4000 block of Airport Road in Oxford – 1993 Chevrolet S10 pick-up truck, blue, VIN 1GCCS14R6PO151585

Press Release: JASPER BANKER CHARGED WITH OBSTRUCTING A CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Alice H. Martin
United States Attorney
Northern District of Alabama
____________________________________________________
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 4, 2006
www.usdoj.gov/usao/aln

BIRMINGHAM, AL - An Indictment was filed in U.S. District Court charging PHILLIP GRACE, 43, of Jasper, with obstructing a criminal investigation. U.S. Attorney Alice H. Martin and Alabama Attorney General Troy King along with Carmen S. Adams, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation announce the indictment today after the arrest of GRACE.
“Congress passed a law barring the disclosure of federal grand jury subpoenas served on banks in order to prevent bank customers, including subjects and targets, from being tipped off to law enforcement efforts to investigate their financial transactions,” states U.S. Attorney Alice H. Martin. “When a bank official, or any other person, decides to violate the law by obstructing justice, that person will be prosecuted.”
GRACE is charged in a three-count indictment which was filed earlier this week in Federal Court. Counts one and two charge GRACE with obstructing a criminal investigation by divulging the existence and contents of federal grand jury bank subpoenas. Count three charges GRACE with making false statements to federal agents. The federal grand jury bank subpoenas alleged to have been disclosed relate to an on-going public corruption investigation. GRACE has been released on bond and will appear on a scheduled arraignment docket later this month.
“We remain steadfast in our commitment to pursue justice and we will not allow individuals to attempt to impede or obstruct that process,” states Alabama Attorney General Troy King.
The investigation in to this matter is being conducted by the North Alabama Public Corruption Public Task Force through investigations with the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service. The prosecution is being conducted by Assistant United States Attorneys Matt Hart and Tamarra Matthews Johnson, along with Special Assistant United States Attorney John Gibbs.
Members of the public are reminded that an Indictment contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

United States Attorney’s Office Press Releases are also on the Internet visit www.usdoj.gov/usao/aln

Jill Ellis, Public Information Contact

Press release: BIRMINGHAM MAN ARRESTED ON IDENTITY THEFT SCAM

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Alice H. Martin
United States Attorney
Northern District of Alabama
____________________________________________________

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 4, 2006
www.usdoj.gov/usao/aln

BIRMINGHAM, AL - A Criminal Complaint has been filed in U.S. District Court charging WARREN WILLIAMS with Identity Theft, Aggravated Identity Theft, Credit Card Fraud, Bank Fraud and Filing a False Document. WILLIAMS, 53, of Birmingham was arrested and remains in police custody.
“Individuals who steal others’ identities for fraudulent purposes, whether by sifting through garbage, computerized records, or other means to steal the identities of citizens will be met with swift and sure prosecution,” states U.S. Attorney Alice H. Martin.
According to the five-count Criminal Complaint, WILLIAMS possessed the identity of others to obtain credit cards, set up utility accounts and used fraudulent checks to make utility payments and rent payments all of which amount to significant losses. The alleged conduct occurred from February 7, 2006 to July 6, 2006.
“Identity theft is a growing problem and one that deserves a lot of attention,” states J. Christopher Murphy, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service. “We have put together a Computer Crimes Working Group (CCWG) that addresses identity theft as well as all electronic crimes and cases involving digital evidence. Be assured that this group is comprised of specialists to combat the identity theft issues.”
WILLIAMS now faces maximum penalties up to thirty years imprisonment and a fine of up to one million dollars.
The investigation will continue by federal agents of the U.S. Secret Service. This case originated with the UAB Police Department, and was further investigated by CCWG, including the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant United States Attorney E. Vincent Carroll is prosecuting this matter on behalf of the U.S. Government.
Members of the public are reminded that an Criminal Complaint contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

United States Attorney’s Office Press Releases are also on the Internet visit www.usdoj.gov/usao/aln

Jill Ellis, Public Information Contact

State Trooper class begins training needed to arrest illegal immigrants

By Andy Johns
Star Staff Writer
08-04-2006

Full Story

A class of 25 Alabama State Troopers began the training at Anniston’s Center for Domestic Preparedness on Wednesday that will gain them the federal certification needed to arrest illegal aliens.

After five weeks of training by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, the class will join the 44 Alabama State Troopers already certified to make such arrests.

“It’s a challenging course,” said Sergeant Stanley Lemon, who took the class in 2005. “There’s some intense studying.”

The class will be trained to identify illegal aliens encountered at traffic stops and crash scenes and those who attempt to get a driver’s license, said Trooper Public Information Officer Paul Mashburn.

He stressed that troopers will not conduct immigration-related raids.

Alabama is one of three states that have an agreement worked out with the Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Arkansas and Florida have agreements similar to Alabama’s. Colorado and North Carolina are working on authorizing troopers to make immigration arrests, according to the governor’s office and the Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Full Story

Daily Home: Woman dies in Pell City house fire

From the Daily Home

By David Atchison
08-04-2006

PELL CITY – Two people escaped a house fire that claimed the life of one woman Thursday morning.

“It was hot and pretty intense,” said Boyd Lane, 49, who escaped the house fire authorities say took the life of Gwendolyn Lane, 51, of 4412 Voncile St., Pell City.

Lane smelled what he believed was a fire when he woke up. He got up and investigated.

Lane said he was engulfed by thick, hot, black smoke when he opened his sister-in-law’s bedroom door.

From the Daily Home

Jury finds Storey guilty of attempted murder

By Andy Johns
Star Staff Writer
08-04-2006
A Calhoun County jury on Wednesday found Travis Storey, 31, of Morrisville Road, guilty of attempted murder charges stemming from two shootings in 2003.

Jurors convicted Storey of shooting Rodney Dean Phillips on West 28th Street and Maurice Kirby on Thomas Avenue in late March of 2003.

Circuit Judge Malcolm Street Jr. said Storey discharged his lawyer on Tuesday afternoon and represented himself, examining a witness and presenting his own closing arguments.

Storey is in the Calhoun County Jail with his bail set at $100,000. His sentencing hearing will be Aug. 30. He faces sentences ranging from 20 years to life in each case. Street said he also will decide whether the sentences will be served concurrently or consecutively.

Jurors recessed for about three hours before reaching their verdict at around 5:30 p.m., Street said.

The trial started Monday, almost three years after Storey was indicted by a grand jury in August of 2003.

Oxford Police arrest man for taking lawn ornaments

By Andy Johns
Star Staff Writer
08-04-2006

Oxford Police arrested a man on third-degree robbery charges Monday after an incident at the Town and Country Market on U.S. 78 in which two 26-inch concrete lions and a few other lawn ornaments reportedly were taken.

David Scott Roberts, 42, of Oxford, remained in the Calhoun County jail Thursday evening, with bail set at $10,000. His court date has been set for Sept. 28.

Correction: Letter about Turtles

There's nothing that makes a reporter feel worse than this. -aj

Andy,
There was a problem with the article. Eastern Box Turtles are not federall listed as endangered or threatened. They are protected by state law in Alabama and by other states.
Thanks,

Lt. Michael Bloxom
Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division

----------------------------------------------
Lt. Bloxom,
I spoke with two biologists yesterday and they corrected me. I went back and looked at where I got that information and it said Aquatic Box Turtles, not Eastern Box Turtles. I am sorry for the mistake. Accuracy is a big part of this business, and I assure you the next time you talk to us, there won't be an error like this. We are planning to run a correction. Keep me posted if there is anything else going on that you think rates an (error-free) story in the future.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Storey guilty, jury says

A Calhoun County jury has found an Anniston man guilty in two cases of attempted murder stemming from two shootings in 2003.
Jurors convicted 31-year-old Travis Storey of 1133 Morrisville Road of shooting Rodney Dean Phillips on West 28th Street and Maurice Kirby on Thomas Avenue in late March of 2003 Wednesday.
Circuit Judge Malcolm Street said Storey discharged his lawyer on Tuesday afternoon and represented himself by examining a witnesses and making his own closing arguments of the trial.
Storey is in the Calhoun County jail with his bond set at $100,000.
Storey faces two sentences of 20 years to life depending on the decision in his sentencing hearing on August 30.
Street said he will decide whether the sentences can be served concurrently or consecutively, meaning that the sentences could be carried out at the same time or back to back.
Jurors recessed for about three hours before coming to their decision around 5:30 p.m., Street said.
The trial started on Monday, almost three years after Storey was indicted by a grand jury in August of 2003.
-Andy Johns

St. Clair escapee had escaped before

From The Daily Home

By David Atchison
08-03-2006

PELL CITY — A St. Clair County inmate who escaped from a work detail Monday has escaped before while in the custody of the Sheriff’s Department.

Kenneth Wayne Dunaway, 44, of Ragland, who was recaptured Tuesday in woods near his mother’s home, was convicted of escape in 1985, according to court records.

St. Clair County jail administrator Terry Marcrum said he was aware of Dunaway’s escape conviction before the inmate was placed as a trusty working at the courthouse in Pell City.

“He really didn’t have a history,” Marcrum said Wednesday. “The circumstance of that (his previous escape) was a little different.”

According to court records, Dunaway was charged with first-degree escape in 1985, after he escaped custody from the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department while receiving medical treatment at St. Clair County Hospital.

In Monday’s escape, Dunaway was on a work detail at the courthouse. He dumped his blue jail outfit, under which he was apparently wearing sweatpants. He fled from the courthouse wearing the sweatpants, a T-shirt and white tennis shoes.
Full Story

Verdict in attempted murder case expected today

By Andy Johns
Star Staff Writer
08-03-2006
Calhoun Circuit Court Judge Malcolm Street said he expects a jury verdict today in an attempted murder case from 2003.

Travis Storey, 31, of 1133 Morrisville Road, is accused of shooting Rodney Dean Phillips on West 28th Street and Maurice Kirby on Thomas Avenue in late March, 2003.

Street said Storey discharged his lawyer Tuesday afternoon and represented himself by examining witnesses and making his own closing arguments in the trial.

Wednesday afternoon, jurors asked for further instruction, which Street felt probably would delay a verdict until today.

The trial started Monday, almost three years after Storey was indicted by a grand jury in August 2003.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Press release: BIRMINGHAM DOCTOR SENTENCED ON CHILD SEX CHARGES

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Alice H. Martin
United States Attorney
Northern District of Alabama
____________________________________________________

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 2, 2006
www.usdoj.gov/usao/aln
BIRMINGHAM, AL - WILLIAM FLYNN WALKER was sentenced in U.S. District Court late yesterday on federal charges of interstate transportation of children for illegal sex acts. U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins sentenced WALKER, 49, of Shelby, Alabama, to 327 months (just over 27 years) in prison without parole. He will be placed on life time supervised release after the prison term is served.
“Children will be protected from predators,” states U.S. Attorney Alice H. Martin. “Prison is the right place for Dr. Walker.”
WALKER, a Birmingham anesthesiologest was charged on September 28, 2005, with seven counts of transporting three different children from Alabama to various locations out of state during the time period from 1986 to 2004 and engaging in illegal sexual acts with them. He plead guilty to the charges on March 8, 2006.
This case is significant in that it brings attention to a new Federal initiative: Project Safe Childhood which was launched earlier last month. Project Safe Childhood is a major Department endeavor where U.S. Attorneys will work together with local Department-funded Internet Crimes Against Children task forces, and all their other federal, state, and local partners, in unprecedented cooperative efforts to attack online pedophiles and pornographers.
This case was investigated by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Postal Inspection Service. Assistant United States Attorney James E. Phillips prosecuted this matter on behalf of the U.S. Government.

United States Attorney’s Office Press Releases are also on the Internet visit www.usdoj.gov/usao/aln

Jill Ellis, Public Information Contact

Vacant house in Anniston gutted by fire

A vacant house in west Anniston suffered heavy fire damage Tuesday in a blaze that fire investigators said they believe was intentionally set.
Anniston firefighters were dispatched to a single-story vacant house at 513 West 27th St. When they arrived, smoke was pouring out of the house, firefighters said.
A crew battled the fire for about 30 minutes before the flames were put out.
One firefighter suffered a minor shoulder strain fighting the blaze, but no one else
was injured.
Fire investigators believe that the fire started in a carport closet, and are treating
it as an intentional fire.
—Andy Johns

Tuesday's Blotter

Crimes are listed by location. Anonymous tips may be called in to Crime Stoppers at 238-1414. A reward of up to $1,000 may be given.

Anniston
The following property crimes were reported to the Anniston Police Department during the 24-hour period ending at 7 a.m. Tuesday.
Burglaries
* Residence, 1200 block of West 16th Street, Anniston – unknown type of CD player,
fireworks
Thefts
* Dollar General, 1421 Golden Springs Road, Anniston – miscellaneous merchandise
* Wittichen Supply Co., 437 Noble St., Anniston – two rolls of copper
Auto-related theft
* Service station, 1200 block of 10th Street, Anniston – 1977 Chevrolet pickup, cream-colored with white tool box, VIN CCD147A107057

Jacksonville
The following property crimes were reported to the Jacksonville Police Department during the 7-day period ending at 7 a.m. Tuesday.
Auto-related theft
* Residence, 600 block of Lonely Pines Road, Jacksonville – Pro-Force Generator,
orange, model PM0102500, Black and Decker H87 shop-vacuum, gray, 10-inch compound miter saw, model BDMS100, Stihl string trimmer,Stihl chainsaw, 1997 Nissan four-wheel-drive pickup, red VIN 1N6SD11YXVC374156
* Residence, 100 block of NE Mountain Street, Jacksonville – cash, prescription drugs

Armed, masked man attacks 43-year-old on Noble Street

A 43-year-old Anniston man reportedly was attacked Monday night by an armed, masked man who jumped out of some hedges on Noble Street in what police termed an attempted robbery.
According to Anniston Police reports,the victim was walking around 9:15 p.m. on the 2000 block of Noble Street when a man wearing a ski mask jumped through the hedges and pointed a handgun at him.
The assailant demanded money, but the victim grabbed at the gun, attempting to wrestle it away.
After a brief struggle, the man fled on foot with the gun, but no money.
The victim was not injured, according to the report.
If caught, the assailant will face one count of felony first-degree robbery.
—Andy Johns

Man robs J'ville Pizza Hut

A man armed with a silver semi-automatic pistol entered the Pizza Hut at 813 South Pelham Road in Jacksonville on Friday night and demanded money, according to Jacksonville police.
The man fled on foot with an undisclosed amount of money, investigators said.
Police said the man entered the restaurant with his face covered. They do not have a suspect in the case, but if caught the man would face charges of felony first-degree robbery.
No one was injured.
—Andy Johns

Anniston police look for man wanted for assault

After two men got in an argument over a friend at the South Highland Community Center Monday night, one wound up being treated at a hospital for a head wound and police are seeking the other for assault charges.
According to Anniston Police reports, the two men were arguing at around 9:40 p.m. when one pulled out a handgun and used it to strike the 19-year-old victim on the head.
The victim told police he blacked out after the blow and his assailant was gone when he woke up.
Police have the suspect’s name and were still searching for him Tuesday evening.
— Andy Johns

Jacksonville restricts non-essential water use

08-02-2006

Because of drought conditions, Jacksonville City Hall has announced water usage restrictions daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. until further notice.

The restrictions apply to all non-essential uses, such as watering lawns and washing cars.

If watering is necessary, it should be done between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., non-peak usage hours, according to the announcement.

Press Release: ILLEGAL ALIEN CHARGED WITH ILLEGAL RE-ENTRY

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Alice H. Martin
United States Attorney
Northern District of Alabama
____________________________________________________
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 1, 2006
www.usdoj.gov/usao/aln
BIRMINGHAM, AL - FELIPE JUAN-FELIPE has been charged by indictment with unlawful re-entry into the United States. The one-count indictment was filed today in U.S. District Court. JUAN-FELIPE, 35, is currently in federal custody.
“This is strike three for Juan-Flippe on illegal re-entry,” states U.S. Attorney Alice H. Martin. “He now faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.”
According to the indictment, JUAN-FELIPE, who is also known as Gerardo Ortiz-Rodriquez, was deported from the United States on March 16, 1999, and again on July 15, 2002, subsequent to a conviction for an aggravated felony. JUAN-FELIPE was arrested in Marshall County on June 18, 2006, and remains in federal custody.
“Re-entry after deportation is a serious federal offense,” states Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Special Agent in Charge Michael A. Holt. “ICE is out in full force investigating and enforcing the nation’s immigration and customs laws to keep our communities safe. ICE can offer great assistance to local police by removing these deportable aliens from the communities,” adds Special Agent in Charge Holt.
JUAN-FELIPE is originally from Guatemala and was deported from Los Angeles, California in 1999, and Paso Del Norte, Texas in 2002. JUAN-FELIPE now faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of not more than $250,000.
Special Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigated this matter along with the Albertville Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Gregory R. Dimler is prosecuting this case on behalf of the U.S. Government.
Members of the public are reminded that an Indictment contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

United States Attorney’s Office Press Releases are also on the Internet visit www.usdoj.gov/usao/aln
Jill Ellis, Public Information Contact

Press Release: LAUDERDALE POSTAL EMPLOYEE INDICTED

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Alice H. Martin
United States Attorney
Northern District of Alabama
____________________________________________________
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 1, 2006
www.usdoj.gov/usao/aln
BIRMINGHAM, AL - THOMAS JEFFREY LETSINGER has been indicted in U.S.
District Court for Misappropriation of Postal Funds and Theft of Government Property. LETSINGER was a former counter clerk with the North Florence Station, Florence, Alabama Post Office.
“Theft by postal employees is not tolerated,”stated U.S. Attorney Alice H. Martin.
The two-count indictment, filed today charges Letsinger, 40, of Leighton, Alabama, with stealing approximately $4,000 in Postal Service funds while being employed as a counter clerk The criminal conduct is alleged to have occurred between April 18, 2005, and May 17, 2005. The maximum sentence for each of the charges is ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Postal Inspectors and Special Agents of the United States Postal Service worked this investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Scarlett M. Singleton is prosecuting this case on behalf of the U.S. Government.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

United States Attorney’s Office Press Releases are also on the Internet visit www.usdoj.gov/usao/aln

Jill Ellis, Public Information Contact

Lab work, crowding slow wheels of justice here

By Andy Johns
Star Staff Writer
08-02-2006

Television viewers watch detectives and prosecutors solve crimes in tidy one-hour blocks on shows like CSI and Law and Order.

Things move more slowly in Calhoun County.

“The public’s perception from watching those shows is that it all happens quickly,” said Circuit Court Clerk Ted Hooks. “That’s not always the case.”

Forensics work alone can take months, just for lab work on fingerprints or ballistics tests, Hooks said.

“If you’re waiting on DNA — oh my goodness, it could take a year,” said Assistant District Attorney Brian Howell.

Hooks and Howell both said no case is typical and lab results or technicalities can delay trials. but they estimated that the whole process, from arrest to sentencing, usually takes between nine and 14 months for most cases.

In a felony case, someone who is arrested has a 72-hour hearing where he or she officially is charged and bond is set. A month or two later, the defendant goes to a preliminary hearing, and a month or two after that he goes before a grand jury. Three to four weeks after a grand jury indictment, he is arraigned and a court date is set, typically six to nine months away, based on Hooks’ and Howell’s estimations.

Howell said that while some people are familiar with the judicial system, many don’t expect the delays.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Assault at South Highland Community Center

Two men got in an argument over a friend at the South Highland Community Center Monday night.
One of them wound up being taken to a hospital with a head wound and the other is on the run from assault charges.
According to Anniston Police reports, a 19-year-old man was arguing with another man at the center on Allen Avenue around 9:40 p.m. when the man pulled out a handgun and struck the 19-year-old in the head with it.
The 19-year-old told police that he blacked out after the blow and his assailant was gone when he woke up.
Police have a name and are searching for a suspect.
-Andy Johns

Turtle market creeps up on Internet


By Andy Johns
Star Staff Writer
08-01-2006

Full story

Box turtles are known for their lethargic pace and tough shells.

But lately the Alabama-native reptiles are becoming a fast-moving commodity on an illegal black market. Experts say the animals are going to need more than shells to protect themselves from unlawful turtle-catchers.

Lt. Michael Bloxom is an Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division officer who is designated to help them.

He spends part of every work day looking for turtles, deer, snakes and other Alabama animals for sale on the Internet.

Recently, his efforts paid off, leading to the arrest of two couples in Wedowee.

According to Randolph County Assistant District Attorney Amy Newsome, Porsha and Wayne Price and Daniel and Rebecca Smith of Wedowee were arrested and convicted of possessing protected animals for sale earlier in July.

Police say the four had been selling endangered eastern box turtles online and mailing them to buyers around the country and possibly abroad.

The two couples had no connection to each other that police can find and claimed they did not know selling the turtles is illegal.

All four spent a short time in jail before being released to 24 months of probation, paying $100 fines and forfeiting money they earned in the sales.

Full story

2 gunmen rob Anniston store

By Andy Johns
Star Staff Writer
08-01-2006

Two gunmen entered an Anniston grocery store Saturday night, demanded money and left with cash.

According to Anniston Police reports, two men appearing to be in their late teens entered the Food Outlet at 2403 Alabama 202 with a black handgun and a Daisy pellet rifle just before 9 p.m. Saturday.

The men demanded cash, took an undisclosed amount of money and fled on foot.

Police pursued the suspects until officers lost sight of them in a wooded area. Police recovered some of the money later that night.

No one was reported injured in the incident.

Ex-APD officer blasts "Good Old Boy" system in letter

Speaker's Stand ... Another perspective on APD’s woes
By Shedric B. Long Sr.
Special to The Star
08-01-2006
I joined the Anniston Police Department in August 1994. I resigned my position in February 2005. While there, I served as senior police officer, field training officer and school resource officer. I loved my job and cared a great deal for some of the people I worked with. Thank you to the mayor, council and the citizens of Anniston for allowing me to serve you.

The reason I left APD was not about the money. Yes, I think the officers are underpaid in Anniston and around the nation; however, I knew how much I would be making before I took the job and so did the other officers who worked there or are still working there. We made the choice to take the job, so why complain so much about the money?

I left APD because of the double and triple standards by which the department is run. I felt there was very little trust among the officers and a very minute amount of trust with the supervisors (chief, captain, lieutenant and sergeant). The “good ol’ boy” grooming system was in full effect.

There were many occasions where officers who committed the same infractions were disciplined totally different. You also had to be part of the Special Response Team to get a new vehicle or equipment, or any special training. Seniority meant nothing compared to being in one of the cliques at APD.

I have talked with many officers who feel the same as I do, and some of those officers still work in the department.

It was also mentioned in a previous letter that citizens did not like the police. Well, for every one ungrateful citizen he mentioned, I was approached by two grateful citizens who were very appreciative of the job that we did in law enforcement. I was stopped numerous times and told thank you for the job we do. On the flip side, if you present yourself in a disrespectful and unfriendly way, that is what you will get in return.

Many would not write this letter for fear of retaliation, and others may feel it will do no good or things are not going to change until some top brass leave APD. So many people are being misled to believe that the mayor and council are the reason that Anniston can’t retain officers, but they are not being told about all of the indecisiveness and hidden personal agendas that exist among the ranks of the police department that have run many officers away.

Again, I did not leave just because of the money. There are many concerns at APD that need to be addressed other than the money.

Shedric B. Long Sr. of Oxford is a former officer in the Anniston Police Department.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Police Blotter for Tuesday

Crimes are listed by location. Anonymous tips may be called in to Crime Stoppers at 238-1414. A reward of up to $1,000 may be given.
Anniston
The following property crimes were reported to the Anniston Police Department during the three-day period ending at 7 a.m. Monday.
Burglaries
• Hardee’s, 5530 McClellan Blvd., Anniston – cash
• Residence, 5400 block of Cash Street, Anniston – 20-inch, gold necklace, JVC three-disc CD player
• Residence, 300 block of Front Street, Anniston – gold bracelet, Taurus .38 revolver, cash
Thefts
• Residence, 3000 block of Adams Street, Anniston – Whirlpool air conditioning window unit, washing machine, drier, miscellaneous clothes
• Residence, 5300 block of Glade Road, Anniston – wallet, cash
• Residence, 700 block of 50th Street, Anniston – television, alarm clock radio
• Residence, 100 block of North Colvin Street, Anniston – 15-speed mountain bike, unknown serial number
• Residence, 600 block of Elm Street, Anniston – 2004 Redcat 250cc four-wheeler, unknown serial number
Auto-related theft
• Residence, first block of Mosby Drive, Anniston – Panasonic CD/MP3 Player
• Parking lot, 1700 block of Greenbrier Dear Road, Anniston – utility trailer, VIN 4YMUK10172LO75142
• Parking lot, 400 block of Allen Avenue, Anniston – 1985 Nissan Sentra, two-door, blue
• Cooper Chevrolet, 1300 block of Quintard Avenue, Anniston, 2003 BMW 525i, four-door, blue, VIN WBADT33443GF44019

Calhoun County
The following property crime was reported to the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office during the three-day period ending at 7 a.m. Monday.
Burglaries
• Residence, first block of Jaybird Drive, Piedmont -- 450 pounds of copper wiring, 16-guage shotgun, unknown serial number
Thefts
• Residence, first block of Nina Drive, Weaver – cash

Letters on Pistol Permits

Re “Don't mess with Calhoun County,” (Editorial, July 19):

The writer states that 10 percent of Calhoun Countians possess pistol permits. Are those of us who possess such permits supposed to feel guilty for doing so?

The process to obtain a permit may warrant review. Those choosing to own firearms must recognize the responsibility that goes along with it. I would like to see our state follow the lead of Texas (as cited by the writer) and other states that require firearms training prior to issue.

The writer seems to wonder why anyone would want to possess a permit to legally carry a firearm. Look at the pages of your own newspaper. When someone enters a store to buy bottled water in the little town of Ohatchee and is shot to death by a gun-wielding robber, something is wrong. When the lives of four young men are snuffed out by a monster just because they were in a video store, something is wrong. Also, the perpetrators of those crimes rarely go to the trouble to be issued a permit.

The writer seems to like statistics, citing Harris County, Texas. With a population 36 times greater than that of Calhoun County, only three times more concealed carry permits are issued. If statistics do indeed tell stories, look at Kennesaw, Ga. After a city ordinance requiring each household to own a firearm, burglaries went down 89 percent! Knowledge that a gun was there acted as a deterrent.

David W. Boyd
Weaver
=========================================================================

An armed society is a polite society, as the editorial seems to recognize. In that one in 10 residents of Calhoun County are licensed to carry concealed firearms, readers are advised to “step carefully and with courtesy” — good advice.

However, there is a seriously distorted “fact” that “a study conducted after Florida loosened its gun laws in the 1980s indicated that violent crime rose in that state when more people were allowed to carry concealed weapons.”

That assertion stands in stark contrast to a recent headline, “Florida crime rate at lowest level since '71.”

Any way you look at it, the crime rate in Florida has been on the decline for about 30 years now, while, at the same time, restrictions on concealed carry and self-defense have become more liberal.

To use the Sunshine State as an example of the dangers of more citizens carrying firearms is completely counterintuitive when considering the facts. As the first state to pass a “shall issue” concealed carry law, Florida is a shining example for the rest of us.

Philip Levy
Springfield, Va.

========================================================================

As an instructor for the National Rifle Association's “Refuse to be a Victim” program, which is offered along with firearms training, I am always encouraged by the level of interest shown by those who take this training. Personal safety and crime prevention are everyone's responsibility and require an effort, a commitment and an attitude that is not always convenient. Further, the safe and proper handling of any firearm is a tremendous responsibility not to be taken lightly. Training and practice require time and dedication, and I commend all of the participants who have undergone this instruction.

I must take exception to statements concerning Florida's “rise in violent crime rate” following adoption of their Right-to-Carry Law by stating some statistics from the NRA:

As of April 2006, Florida has issued 1,136,496 concealed carry permits with only 157 of those subsequently being revoked because of firearms crimes. Since RTC was adopted in 1987, Florida's total violent crime rate has dropped 31 percent and the murder rate has dropped 52 percent. Florida is not unique. On the average, RTC states have 21 percent lower violent crime rates, 28 percent lower murder rates, 43 percent lower robbery rates and 13 percent lower aggravated assault rates than states that have yet to enact our constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

Ed Killgore
Reserve deputy sheriff and NRA instructor
Alexandria

Firefighter training


Photos by Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star
About 150 firefighters gathered in Heflin on Sunday for a demonstration on using natural bodies
of water to fight fires. Demonstrators used pumps to move water from Lake Heflin into tanker
trucks and holding tanks, then sprayed the water through their hoses. Fire departments from as
many as six counties participated in the training, which began Saturday.

State will inspect Anniston High before school opens

By Steve Ivey
Star Staff Writer
07-30-2006

Full Story
Video

A state inspector will get his final look at Anniston High School three days before the school year starts.

Will McCall, northeast regional inspector for the Alabama Building Commission, said he will visit the high school Aug. 7 to decide whether it safely can be occupied when school starts Aug. 10.

“I would think that if they complete the work they’ve submitted plans for, it should be safe for all the kids,” he said.

McCall last visited the high school to meet with contractors and architects July 17. When he returns he will check on two construction projects at Anniston High.

The first is in the northeast corner of the main building. Kilgore Construction is renovating classrooms, installing concrete walls to separate classrooms in place of moveable partitions that had served the school since it opened in 1970.

Full Story
Video