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Couple sent to prison for manslaughter

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Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds announces that a man and a woman will each spend 15 years in prison for causing the 2013 death of a father from Florida.

Gharri Nicholas Lawson, 34, of Jacksonville, Fla., was a guest at a home shared by Danielle Matzkow Darby and Terry Louis Thomas II on March 18, 2014, when he died of a drug overdose. Ms. Darby and Mr. Thomas initially called 911 and said they couldn’t wake him, then told responding Cobb Police officers that Mr. Lawson had taken some pills.

But phone records and other evidence showed they immediately called a pawn shop after the police left the home on Elberta Drive, which is near Canton Road, then pawned the victim’s jewelry soon thereafter.

Later, while the two were initially in custody on theft charges related to the pawned jewelry, four other jail inmates reported that the defendants had said they intentionally gave Mr. Lawson drugs in order to steal from him. Toxicology reports on the victim ultimately confirmed he died of a lethal dose of heroin.

“They told police that Mr. Lawson had only been taking pills,” Deputy Chief ADA Jesse Evans said. “The toxicology report showed that to be false and confirmed what inmates had revealed. That, coupled with the pawning of the jewelry, showed this was a homicide, not a mere overdose.”

In emotional victim testimony, Mr. Lawson’s mother told the court her son was a friend to everyone he met, and he doted on his wife and three young children.

After accepting the guilty pleas, Cobb Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs then sentenced each defendant to 15 years to serve in prison.

Marietta attorney J.M. Raffauf represented Ms. Darby. Charles Engelberger, also of Marietta, represented Mr. Thomas.

 

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Cobb Police honored with awards

Cobb County Police Department

Cobb County Police recently recognized police officers for outstanding contributions to the county at the police awards recognition ceremony. Individuals who have made Cobb a better and safer place received awards, promotions and certificates during the ceremony at Jennie T. Anderson Theatre.

Officers were recognized for their achievements in fitness, community service, meritorious service, bureau commendations, saving lives and one officer received the Blue Star. Congratulations to all of the honorees!

To learn more visit:http://mdjonline.com/bookmark/26552321/article-Honoring-heroes

 

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Cobb County PENS begins collaboration with Nextdoor.com

Computer

Nextdoor.com is a social network site that is set up as a private network for the neighbors in your neighborhood to talk online and share posts with the community. A neighborhood “lead” sets it up on the website. Once the boundary map is set up the lead invites residents in the neighborhood to join the site. Once you personally are signed up, you may share as much or as little about yourself as you wish. Then, similar to other social networking sites, you may receive notifications on your mobile device and/or to your email. This can be a relief for that person in your HOA who is responsible for sending out emails on everything from garage sales to lost pets. All of that information may be shared right on Nextdoor.

More details regarding the privacy, safety and guidelines for Nextdoor.com can be found at this link.https://nextdoor.com/about_us/

PENS was started in 2006 when the supervision at Cobb Police Pct 4 realized a need to communicate with the public and let them know to close their garage doors and lock their vehicles at their residences overnight to prevent a rash of car break ins. We knew that the subdivision and home owner associations of East Cobb had set up email groups within their communities. PENS was set up to link into that existing email network to communicate with the citizens of East Cobb in the hopes to enhance crime prevention and safety. Similar to how we linked in to the existing network of email groups, PENS has recently joined Nextdoor.com, which was also an existing communication network in Cobb County.

We are broadening and enhancing our networking capability with PENS in coordination with Nextdoor.com. Nextdoor.com is a tool for us to effectively share information on crime prevention and safety, public events, and emergency notifications. You can expect to receive local crime and safety updates from the Cobb County Police on Nextdoor. Please be assured that your Nextdoor.com website remains private. Cobb County Police and its officers will NOT be able to see any of the content on your Nextdoor.com website except for the direct replies to our posts.

Nextdoor.com facilitates a virtual neighborhood watch. For example, is a burglary or other crime occurs in your neighborhood and there is important information regarding the suspects that would benefit the safety of the surrounding community, any neighbor on Nextdoor.com would have the ability to share the pertinent information under the category crime and safety. You are able to choose to share it only in your neighborhood or expand out to adjacent neighborhoods. This information is available as soon as you post it and neighbors may receive it as a notification on their mobile devices. Now everyone knows about the incident soon after it happens and they may ensure the safety and security of their homes and family.
Armed with the knowledge of any provided suspect information, people can CALL 911 if the suspects are seen again.

Please note: Any emergencies or reports of current suspicious activities need to go through our 911 dispatch. Nextdoor.com will not be constantly monitored.

You will be able to send a direct message to us to clarify any inconsistencies and receive an official update from Cobb County Police. We will be located under “City Agencies” on the left column. “Cobb County Police CIU Precinct4” will be the name for your Pct 4 East Cobb Precinct. You will also receive posts from our public information office at headquarters. Their Nextdoor name will be “Cobb County Police Department.”

Nextdoor.com also enables us to send a post to a single subdivision or expand to one specific patrol beat area, one entire precinct or out to Cobb County as a whole. It will be immediate information that we can post to the affected area. An example of police notification using Nextdoor.com is while you may be asleep, Morning Watch Officers catch a group of persons entering autos. They recover property but cannot locate all of the victims, or potential victims. We can then send out a post to that neighborhood with instructions or a lookout. If we had a crime and have a description of the vehicle, we can send out that description to enable you to call 911 if you see it.

The Precinct 4 PENS monthly bulletin will also be posted on Nextdoor.com in addition to being sent out to our PENS email group.

There are currently 5,801 residents on Nextdoor.com in the Pct 4 “East Cobb Precinct.”
We look forward to connecting to our community using this additional resource to augment the PCT 4 PENSPolice EmailNotification System.

(Source: Cobb County PENS)

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Jury quickly convicts man in 12-hour rape, assault

Cobb County Police Department

Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds announces that a Marietta man has been convicted of rape and other charges related to a prolonged attack against a woman he had dated.

A Cobb jury on Thursday took about an hour to convict David Martin, 55, of all charges, including rape, aggravated sodomy, false imprisonment, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during commission of a felony.

About 11 a.m. on Oct. 15, 2013, the victim went to Mr. Martin’s Timberly Drive home to visit. Later, after an argument, he refused to let her leave. Over the next 12 hours, the defendant dragged the victim by the hair, bound her wrists and ankles with zip ties, tied a rope around her neck, threatened her with a handgun and forced her to have sex with him, and also shaved her head. When he finally let her go, he put her cut hair in a bag and gave it to her as a souvenir.

She fled “with her head shaved, her dignity taken from her, her body violated in the worst way,” said ADA Chuck Boring, who prosecuted the case with ADA Courtney Veal. “She had been tied up like an animal — and treated worse.”

Mr. Martin later wrote to the victim from jail, asking her forgiveness.

Before imposing sentence, Cobb Superior Court Judge Reuben M. Green said, “This was one of the worst rape cases I’ve heard.”

“Over the course of those 12 hours, you tortured another human being,” Judge Green said. “I hear a lot of ugly things and I cannot think of much worse.”

Judge Green then sentenced Mr. Martin to life in prison, plus the mandatory five years on the firearms charge.

Marietta lawyer Charles Engelberger III represented the defendant, who has been in custody since shortly after the attack.

Cobb Police investigated this case. The trial began Monday with jury selection.

 

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Mix of drugs and driving lead local mother to prison

Cobb District Attorney Vic Reynolds announces that a Marietta woman has been sent to prison after being convicted of possessing heroin and crashing her vehicle.

Andrea Nicole Bolton, 32, was driving a black Chevrolet C1500 with two passengers, including her young daughter, on the evening of April 1, 2013, on South Cobb Drive near Barclay Circle in Marietta when the vehicle left the roadway and struck three utility poles. The vehicle flipped over, entrapping and injuring the front-seat passenger. At least one telephone pole was broken in half. Witnesses reported Ms. Bolton had been driving erratically for about a mile before the crash. Heroin and syringes were found in Ms. Bolton’s bag, though she insisted they were not hers. Before trial, she rejected a plea offer of probation and treatment.

On Wednesday, a Cobb jury convicted Ms. Bolton of possession of heroin, one count of serious injury by vehicle, and reckless driving. She was acquitted of DUI, another count of serious injury by vehicle, and endangering a child.

“This is the type of case where accountability comes in big time,” ADA Theresa Schiefer said during sentencing Friday morning. “This is one of the most dangerous types of addicts – someone who won’t admit they have a problem. It seems the crash would have been a wake-up call. Now it’s two years later, we’ve continued to have dirty drug screens, and I continue to hear denial.”

The defendant’s mother testified on her behalf and Cobb Superior Court Chief Judge Stephen Schuster asked her what Ms. Bolton has done about her drug problem since the crash.

“Is this defendant going to fight to make herself well, or is she always going to blame it on others?” Judge Schuster asked. “We see in a number of cases that they (drug users) don’t want to admit to their families that they have a problem. Our worldview now is that treatment is better than prison, but the person has to want it. … This could have been a case where a six-year-old child died.”

He then sentenced the defendant to 10 years, with three years to serve in custody and the rest on probation. As a condition of her probation, she must complete a residential treatment program.

Marietta attorney Carlos Rodriguez represented the defendant, who was returned to custody after the jury verdict on Wednesday. She had been free on bond while awaiting trial.

Cobb Police investigated the case.

 

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Apartment arsonist sentenced to 20 years

Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds announces that an East Point man will go to prison for burglary and arson.

Ernest Alphonso Nixon, 39, pleaded guilty this week to two counts of burglary, theft by taking, and arson.

The investigation by Smyrna Police, Smyrna Fire and other agencies determined that Mr. Nixon and a woman he was in a romantic relationship with had gone to a party on the evening of Oct. 5, 2013. While driving home in the woman’s car on Interstate 20 in Douglas County, Mr. Nixon is suspected of assaulting the woman. After a struggle, she was able to leave him on the side of the road and seek help from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. Meanwhile, Mr. Nixon somehow made it to her apartment in Smyrna, where he entered and stole a loaded .38 Special revolver.

When the victim arrived at her apartment, she realized something was wrong and did not enter. Instead, she called police. Mr. Nixon had exited her apartment through a window, and officers did not locate him, though he was hiding nearby. After officers left, Mr. Nixon went back inside the apartment and set five fires, on various furniture and other areas, using lighter fluid. Sprinklers in the unit quickly put out the flames, but damages to the building totaled more than $64,000. About 25 people were in the apartment building at the time of the fires. He then fled the state but was ultimately arrested in Pennsylvania.

“Mr. Nixon’s rage blinded him to the real dangers posed by fire. If not for the functioning sprinkler system, this case could have been a lot worse,” ADA Brendan F. Murphy said. “This case also demonstrates how quickly domestic violence can spiral out of control. Before this night, Mr. Nixon had never laid a hand on the victim. If you are in an abusive situation, please seek help now.”

After accepting the plea, Cobb Superior Court Judge Stephen Schuster sentenced Mr. Nixon to 20 years, with 10 years to serve in prison and the rest on probation.

Marietta attorney Gary Wilson Jones represented the defendant, who has been held without bond at Cobb Jail since November 2013.

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Sexting with student lands former coach in prison

Ryne Thomas Thackston

 

Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds announces that a former high school coach and teacher has been sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to exchanging explicit images with a student.

Ryne Thomas Thackston, 30, of Acworth coached girls’ track at North Cobb High School when it was discovered in March 2013 that he had sent nude images of himself to a student on the team he coached. He also had sexual images of the girl on his phone.

On Feb. 11, midway through a bench trial in his case, Mr. Thackston pleaded guilty to one count of sexual exploitation of children and one count of electronically furnishing obscene material to minors.

At his sentencing hearing Tuesday afternoon, ADA Hannah Palmquist urged Cobb Superior Court Judge Stephen Schuster to reject the defense’s request for probation and appropriately punish Mr. Thackston for his actions.

“Whatever sentence you give, everyone at North Cobb High is going to talk about it – students, parents and educators. This sentence will send a message to high school students about the dangers of the behavior they engage in over electronic media. It will send a message to the people we entrust with the supervision of our children about the accountability that comes with that role. And it will send a message to parents who send their children to school in Cobb County about the consequences we will enforce when that trust is violated,” ADA Palmquist said.

Judge Schuster then sentenced Mr. Thackston to five years, with two years to serve in custody and the rest on probation.

Marietta attorney Victor Valmus represented Mr. Thackston, who had been free on bond until he was sentenced.

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Cobb Police investigated the case.

Three East Cobb stores cited for selling alcohol to a minor

Teen drinking

The Cobb County Police Department’s Permit/Regulatory Services Unit conducted an Alcohol Compliance Check on Thursday January 29, 2015. During the operation, 12 establishments were checked for compliance. The following passed the compliance check and did not sell alcohol to the underage volunteer:

Kroger Store #478 3162 Johnson Ferry Road in Marietta, Georgia
Jackie’s Fine Wine & Spirits 2940 Johnson Ferry Road in Marietta, Georgia
Publix Super Market #155 1100 Johnson Ferry Road in Marietta, Georgia
Shell Food Mart 133 Johnson Ferry Road in Marietta, Georgia
Citgo Food Mart 4360 Roswell Road in Marietta, Georgia
BP 4267 Roswell Road in Marietta, Georgia
CVS Pharmacy #5051 4250 Roswell Road in Marietta, Georgia

The following locations passed the compliance check, but were issued citations for permits violations:

Wine Shop 640 Johnson Ferry Road in Marietta, Georgia
BP 559 Johnson Ferry Road in Marietta, Georgia

The following location failed the compliance check and sold to an underage volunteer:

Shell 1280 Johnson Ferry Road in Marietta, Georgia
Merchants Package Store 1272 Johnson Ferry Road in Marietta, Georgia
East Cobb Exxon Food Mart 4244 Roswell Road in Marietta, Georgia

 

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Drug trafficker sent to prison for 65 years

Cobb District Attorney Vic Reynolds announces that a five-time felon has been sentenced to serve 65 years in prison for drug trafficking.

A Cobb jury late Wednesday convicted Nikita Tayaneka Winn, 43, of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, trafficking in heroin, and firearms-possession charges.

On Sept. 24, 2013, Marietta Police were conducting surveillance at the Crestmont Apartments near Bells Ferry Road and Cobb Parkway after complex managers had complained of possible drug activity near the building where the defendant was staying with a tenant. Police encountered one of the defendant’s customers trying to make a purchase, and that led to a search of the defendant’s room and discovery of the drugs, digital scales, a knife and gun, and more than $3,500 in small bills.

“[Drug trafficking is] destruction brought onto this community and others all over this country by the work of people like Nikita Winn. He’s responsible for wrecking lives and neighborhoods with the scourge of illegal drugs. It’s time to do something about it, and that’s why we’re here,” ADA Maurice Brown told jurors.

This morning, Cobb Superior Court Judge Mary Staley sentenced Mr. Winn to serve 65 years in prison, and also fined him $1 million. He has five prior felony convictions. He also faces a separate, pending case here of giving a false name. Fulton County and the City of Atlanta also have charges pending against him.

Marietta attorney Lee Fudger represented the defendant during the trial.

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Pawnshop robbery = life without parole

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Cobb District Attorney Vic Reynolds announces that a repeat offender found guilty of robbing a Marietta pawnshop has been sentenced to life without parole.

A Cobb jury late Wednesday convicted Ronald Eaton Jr., a/k/a Ronald Cornish, of the Sept. 18, 2012 armed robbery of Cobb Pawnshop on Cobb Parkway South. Shortly after 10 a.m. that day, Mr. Eaton entered the shop armed with a handgun and demanded money from the owner. He then forced the owner into a back room of the shop and duct-taped him to a chair.

“Ronald Eaton made a choice to live his 28 years of life as a criminal. As a four-time convicted felon from Baltimore, Maryland, he chose to make victims of innocent people by robbing and assaulting them as a means to meet his selfish ends,” ADA Joyette Holmes said. “The life without parole sentence handed down by the court forecloses Ronald Eaton’s opportunity to harm anyone else.”

Mr. Eaton, 28, of Marietta, was convicted of all three charges, which were armed robbery, kidnapping, and possession of a firearm during commission of a crime.

Cobb Superior Court Judge Robert E. Flournoy III immediately sentenced him as a recidivist to life in prison without parole, plus the required five years on the firearms charge.

Atlanta attorney Anthony Woods Jr. represented the defendant, who also faces pending murder charges in Maryland.

Marietta Police investigated the case. The trial began Monday with jury selection.

 

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