Transparency obstructed at McCaysville City Council meeting

Community, News

McCaysville, Ga. – Mayor Thomas Seabolt tried to bring to an end the reading of the monthly bills, as new councilmember Gilita Carter had done at previous meetings since taking office.

Carter had stated in a previous meeting: “I’ve been coming to a lot of meetings and it always comes up, about paying the bills. Well, I often sit there and wonder, what bills? Whose bills?”

Click Here to read about previous meeting concerning McCaysville finances.

Since taking office Carter has read each line item of the monthly bills aloud to the public, but Seabolt put a stop to this by asking for a motion before Carter could address the public.

McCaysville, Fannin, Georgia, City Council, Transparency, Finance, Bills, Mayor, Attorney, Thomas Seabolt, Sue Beaver, Gilita Carter, Susan Kiker, Jason Woody, Larry Collis, Cortney Stuart, Expenditures

Council-member Gilita Carter and Mayor Thomas Seabolt exchange words over the city’s transparency.

“I just don’t want to take the time to read everything because they’ve already been approved through payment in a sense,” Seabolt spoke to Carter of his reasoning behind not continuing to read the individual bills submitted by city departments.

After asking for a motion to pay the bills with no further explanation, council-member Sue Beaver gave that motion, with fellow council-member Larry Collis gave a second. When asked all in favor Carter abstained along with council-member Susan Kiker.

“In the basis of transparency and in the fact that I stated before, that no one ever knew what the bills were, I will at least give the total for each department,” Carter said before reading each department’s total bills.

Mayor Seabolt responded to Carter’s reading of the totals by saying, “If they want a copy they can ask for public records.” 

This sparked a short exchange between Carter and Seabolt, with Carter ending, “I won’t read them individually any more, but for transparency purposes people need to know what the city bills are. Transparency is what I’m going to stand for.”

Council-member Jason Woody proposed having a print out of detailed monthly bills available for citizens at the regular monthly meetings.

Ultimately, Carter voted no to paying the bills to show opposition in how the City Council is handling getting the information to the public.

The department totals for bills in the month of Feb. are as follows:

  • Administration – $3,828.24
  • Police Department – $2,439.42
  • Court – $519.60
  • Street Department – $3,693.45
  • City Park – $295.39
  • Water and sewer – $29,889.85

Later in the meeting Carter proposed that the City put in place a system for filing expenditure reports and receiving reimbursement. Her proposal includes basing the City’s millage rate reimbursement on Federal standards and having clear cut forms so that reimbursement would be organized and uniform.

Another topic of financial discussion came about when City Attorney Cortney Stuart pointed out during the meeting that no resolution actually exists that requires spending over $500 to come before the council for approval.

This topic and the topic of expenditure reports are expected to be discussed by council in a workshop meeting.

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

New council members halt previously unchecked city spending

Community, News

McCaysville, Ga. – The City of McCaysville has been spending outside of their means and newly elected council members are making it a goal to bring the City’s spending back under control.

Revenue for the city for the month of  Jan. 2020 was $109,309.44 and the expenses came to  $201,502.12 

“We’re going in the wrong direction,” Council member Gilita Carter spoke of the city’s financial situation. “We’re going to have to tighten our belts and look at things very very closely.”

Carter referenced that the procedure for the departments of the city is for any expense over $500 to be brought before the council for approval: “These things are put in place for a purpose and should be followed.” 

Carter had consulted with McCaysville City Attorney Cortney Staurt about the legalities of this process not being followed, and according to Stuart there are legal ramifications for city employees not following the protocol.

“Anything over $500 has to come before the council for approval,” Stuart explained, “That has not been followed in the past. The danger with that is that if it is not followed and the council does not approve it, the council member could then become personally liable for it and the city could have to sue the council member to pay that.”

Stuart added, “We are in a financial situation right now and we do need to have more oversight on it.” 

Among the departments that did not seek approval for spending was the McCaysville Police Department. After having several items questioned at the Jan. 2020 meeting, Chief of Police Michael Earley was once again questioned about his spending.

Several of the City’s officers had attended continuing education courses and while the expenses for these courses exceeded the $500 pre-approval limit, nothing pertaining to these courses were brought before council for approval.

“Let’s face it, we’re not doing very well with our expenses,” Carter said as she questioned Earley over his department’s spending.

Earley explained the state mandated the schooling process, “We have to have a minimum of 20 hours a year training or we lose our certification as a police officer. I have to have 40 hours a year as your Chief of Police training or I lose my certification.”

Earley, who is a post certified instructor, admitted that he is able to provide this training and moving forward would try to offer more in house solutions: “I know the city’s under some constraints with the budget. I’m going to do everything I can to make our budget fall down.” 

Carter did not hide her feelings as Earley made the request for the council to hire a full-time officer: “We have too many policemen in this city.”

Carter along with other council members did vote to hire the officer on full-time.

More financial woes came when Mayor Thomas Seabolt read from a prepared statement: “About the new city park, I made a mistake when we filed for the work that Holloway Trenching, LLC. completed on our new park.” 

Anna Hensley with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and Executive Director of OneGeorgia informed Seabolt that the City would not be getting reimbursed for approximately $340,000 of money already spent on park renovations. This leaves taxpayers responsible for the bill.

Seabolt did tell council that the city could file a six month extension for the $300,000 left in grant money if they would like to move forward with completing the park, and assured everyone that all outlines of the grant would be followed in the future to receive reimbursement.

Some of the work left to complete the park includes renovating the building in the center of park, building two large pavillions, and purchasing and planting an estimated 70 trees per EPD (Environmental Protection Division) recommendation.

“Well we want the park finished for certain.” Council member Sue Beaver motioned to proceed but follow all rules laid out by the OneGeorgia grant. Council unanimously approved to move forward.

It was later brought to the attention of new council members that this “move forward” is how the city ended up on the hook for the money not reimbursed through the grant. The Revitalization Committee headed by Mayor Seabolt took the vote to proceed previously as an okay from council to not bring any purchases before them for approval.

Newly elected council member Susan Kiker wanted to be sure that this process would not be repeated.

“We need to see the plans,” Kiker said of proceeding with the park and added that anything over $500 was to brought before the council for approval. “We were elected by the taxpayers.”

Carter, who began her term providing more transparency to the citizens of McCaysville in regards to finance, said, “Everything is falling through the cracks. Everyone spent money like it is going out of style and that’s why we’re trying to get a hold on everything.”

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

McCaysville Revitalization Committee fires back at Council and Attorney

Community, News

McCaysville, Ga. – The McCaysville Revitalization Committee had a lot to say after they felt that their work had been villainized by the City Council and the City Attorney in a previous meeting.

“It has been stated that this committee has way too much power and I am here to assure the council and the citizens that we have no governing power at all,” Chairman of the Revitalization Committee Zachary Welch spoke first on behalf of the group. “We can’t hire. We can’t fire, nor can we bind contracts or vote on anything on behalf of McCaysville.”

McCaysville, Fannin County, Georgia, City Council, Attorney, Revitalization Committee, Chairman, Zachary Welch, Ann Williams, Marilyn McNeill, Mayor, Thomas Seabolt, Susan Kiker, Cortney Stuart, Michael Earley, Spending, Finance

Council discussing the Revitalization Committee at the previous meeting.

Welch added of the committee’s members, “The make-up of the Revitalization Committee is well represented with people who have been and are invested in this community.”

Welch pointed out that the purpose of the committee was to bring new ideas on ways to improve the city and cited some of the accomplishments that this group has brought forth. Among these accomplishments Welch pointed out that the committee had acquired new park benches to tune of approximately $51,000 and all of this had come in the form of donations.

Welch also listed flower boxes and hanging baskets throughout the city, with these and other area landscape projects being undertaken and maintained through donated material and labor.

The Revitalization Committee has also taken advantage of an LMIG grant (Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant) that had been available to the city for some time with the city not utilizing it. The use of this grant provided a sidewalk from the Welcome Center to the City Park.

“Time, talent, energy and hard work,” Welch said of the committee and stressed, “all as a donation (to the city). This committee has excelled at making this happen.”

“This committee has helped raise over $600,000 in new money being received for improvements to our community in the last 2 years,” Welch explained and stated that beyond this the committee had garnered the attention of both local and state governments and was  recently awarded the Community Service Award from Fannin County Chamber of Commerce.

Committee member Ann Williams was less subdued when addressing the council and McCaysville City Attorney Cortney Staurt.

“That is untrue,” Williams spoke to Stuart about whether the grant writing for the city park had been given to a person in Blairsville to complete, “It’s a lie.” 

Stuart clarified that while she had heard that Williams, who had been paid by the city to do grant writing, did hire someone from Blairsville for this reason, that she had never stated this rumor was true. Stuart did not back down when Williams confronted her over her comments of the committee having too much power: “Yes ma’am, I do believe that.”

“Getting out and begging money for flowers and benches,” Williams retorted to Staurt’s remark, “if you call that power, then I’ve got it and I’ll accept it and I am proud of everything I’ve done.” 

City Council member and Revitalization Committee member Sue Beaver came to Williams’ defense, “Ann is such a hard worker and we just have to give her all the credit because she works 8 to 12…14 hours a day, volunteer. She does not get paid.”

Beaver added that Williams had been selected because of her previous work in similar scenarios to that of McCaysville. 

The meeting had to be called to order during Williams’ address by Chief of Police Michael Earley after citizens in the audience began to go back and forth with Williams.

Committee member Marilyn MacNeill was last to address the council:  “It’s unbelievable that the Revitalization Committee is here this evening defending the work and the accomplishments that’s been made over the last two years.” 

“Let me make this perfectly clear, to be lectured or called on the carpet by an attorney is just not going to happen,” McNeill spoke of Stuart’s suggestion to have the committee present to make the boundaries of their roles clear.

McNeill ended wishing everyone well moving forward and added, “It has been my pleasure working with the McCaysville Revitalization Committee and the council, and I thank those who have been supportive and with that I’m stepping off of the Revitalization Committee.”

“None of this stuff is coming before the council.” Staurt said not only of spending by the committee but also of the grant process. “Going forward perhaps a resolution would be if a member of the Revitalization Committee, it could be the council members on there, come every month and there’s a report as to what’s going on with it (the committee’s progress).” 

Mayor Thomas Seabolt appointed new City Council member Susan Kiker to sit on the Revitalization Committee, taking the seat vacated by former council member Rodeney Patterson. The seat vacated by Marilyn McNeill remains open.

 

 

Featured Image courtesy of Fannin County Chamber of Commerce.

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

New council shows more transparency in city meeting

Community, News

McCaysville, Ga. – The new year brought in new faces to the McCaysville City Council, and these new members wasted no time stepping away from the status quo of city council meetings. 

Council member Gilita Carter brought pause to the meeting’s proceedings early on when a motion was made to “pay the bills for January”.

“I’ve been coming to a lot of meetings and it always comes up, about paying the bills,” Carter spoke to the Mayor and Council, “Well, I often sit there and wonder, what bills? Whose bills?”

In meetings past, a motion would come to pay the city’s bills for the month, followed by a second, and unanimous approval. There was never given any explanation or break down of what these bills were or an amount to be paid.

Carter, who is assigned to look at city financials, continued, “We (the city) did operate at a loss and we need to look closely at these things and keep track.” She followed this statement by reading a detailed list of the monthly bills to be approved broken down by department.

The department totals for the month were as follows:

  • Administration – $1,633.37
  • Police Department – $17,190.74
  • Court – $519.50
  • Street Department – $1,272.94
  • City Park – $1419.39
  • Water and Sewer – $15,971.69

After completing the list of bills due, Carter questioned, “Have all of these, to this point, been approved? Is there anything on here that had to go before prior approval?”

McCaysville City Clerk Nancy Godfrey clarified the spending process of the city for new council members: “We do have a policy or resolution in place that anything over $500 is supposed to be approved by council.”

“The water department is different. All of those things don’t have to come before the council because they’re chemicals that are required to treat water,” Godfrey explained, but added that there was one item in the department’s bills that was questionable.

No representative from the Water and Sewer Department was present to give insight to council about this item.

McCaysville Chief of Police Michael Earley was present and did explain his department’s bills that had a total over $500.

One of these bills in particular accounted for the bulk of the department’s expenditures for the month. $11,300.87 was requested to pay Resurgens Orthopaedics.

This item was easily explained by Earley. Resurgens Orthopaedics is where suspect James Larry Parris, Jr. was treated after the officer involved shooting that took place in Aug. 2019.

“Once, you discharge your weapon on someone, they automatically become in custody,” Earley explained and continued, “so we assume all of their medical bills from that point forward and while they’re in jail.”

There were a few more items listed for the police department that had needed prior council approval. Council member Jason Woody questioned Earley, “Was it in the budget to purchase those items?” 

Earley answered Woody that all purchases were in the budget and offered to code his budget showing where each line item is taken from.

In the police department bills was an invoice for $702.08 for new tires (including balancing and mounting) for a Tahoe.

While Earley agreed that moving forward he would seek approval on expenditures over $500, he added, “There’s a few things in a police department that, if we have a few blow outs on our vehicles, I can’t wait to get tires for a vehicle. I have to get our vehicle back on the road.” 

Earley suggested that he meet with council to go over necessities for the department and get an ongoing pre-approval of certain items that his department needs to function immediately, so that if need arose he would already have the go ahead to purchase.

Council agreed to this suggestion by Earley.

Moving forward the City Council agreed that all department purchases over $500, that is nonessential for the department’s continued operation, would need to have prior approval before spending can take place.

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

McCaysville Mayor Seabolt criticized over job performance

Community, News

McCaysville, Ga. – The final 2019 meeting of the McCaysville City Council was anything but business as usual, as conversations aimed at the Mayor became heated and accusations came to light.

Council member Rodney Patterson, who ran against Mayor Thomas Seabolt in the recent city election, used his last meeting with the council to “clear his conscious”. Patterson brought to the forefront some of the issues that he felt the re-elected Seabolt was not being completely transparent about.

The first of Patterson’s reveals were the Mayor’s reimbursement filings for the use of his personal vehicle to conduct city business. According to Patterson, Seabolt had turned in $2,055 in claimed vehicle expenditures last year.

McCaysville, Georgia, City Council, Mayor, Police, Thomas Seabolt, Rodney Patterson, Richard Wagner, Attorney, Cortney Stuart, Sue Beaver, Beavers Home Improvement, Tamberlyn Tanner, Park, Budget, CDL, Illegal, Expenses, Michael Earley, Park, Restrooms

Mayor Thomas Seabolt received criticism at the Dec. 2019 City Council meeting.

“That’s equivalent to 822 gallons of gas at $2.50 a gallon,” Patterson said explaining his concern and added, “That’s 12,335 miles at 15 miles per gallon.”

Patterson questioned Seabolt if he had done that many miles in less than a 2 square mile city. Seabolt responded, “I might have. I don’t know.”

Seabolt pointed out that the amount also covers “wear and tear” on the vehicle and that he had adhered to the City Charter when turning in his expenditures.

Council member Richard Wagner came to Seabolt’s defense stating that the expenditures also cover vehicle insurance: “I don’t think it’s being abused at all.” 

“I’ve never turned in no expense,” Patterson retorted, stating that he has used his personal vehicle for city business as well,  “I figured the $200 a month (city council salary) they give me was fair enough for me to do my traveling.” 

Patterson then turned his attention to recent renovations being completed at the city park. $28,000 was set aside for renovations of the park’s restrooms. This remodel was to include five toilets and one urinal.

Beavers Home Improvement was put in charge of the job and the city did manage to stay under budget only spending $23,346. However, renovations were not done as expected. Patterson pointed out that the restrooms ended up only having 3 toilets and one urinal, and that no insulation or heating and cooling were put into place, so the restrooms could not even be left open during the Winter months due to the threat of freezing pipes.

A citizen in the audience, a former plumber with over 30 years experience, chimed in on the restroom issue.

“I’ve never seen a job that was done so shabby,” the citizen addressed Seabolt speaking of pipes being installed at improper heights and the lack of quality of the fixtures.

The citizen went on to express his feelings on the possibility of nepotism playing a role: “This man is not a plumber. He is not a qualified contractor. He’s not licensed, but yet he gets a job to go down there and gets paid by the city and his mother’s on the council. This is not right.”

Wondering why the job wasn’t inspected before payment was given the citizen summed up his feelings by stating, “I’ve never in my life seen my tax dollars thrown down the drain like I did down there.”

Although the restroom remodel came in under budget, the park budget itself is $42,459 over the original $300,000 agreed upon by council to spend. Patterson asked Seabolt why the city had not been reimbursed through grant money for the amount spent on the park, and wondered if the city would see the reimbursement at all. Patterson felt the bid process was not done properly by the city and this could disqualify them for reimbursement.

Lastly, Patterson questioned why city employees were driving a Class A vehicle without a CDL license. 

According to the United States Department of Transportation, a Class A CDL is required to drive tractor-trailer, or combination vehicles that have a gross combined weight rating of 26,001 pounds or higher with the towed portion of the vehicle that weighing more than 10,000 lbs.

“Why did we not send them to Tri County?” Patterson questioned about the licensing, saying that he had brought this issue to the council before and it was brushed aside. “I just want to know why our employees is driving around illegally in a CDL Vehicle, and there is not a single employee in the City of McCaysville that is licensed to drive it.”

Patterson pointed out the liability to the city and asked City Attorney Cortney Stuart what would be the end result if there were an accident in the vehicle without proper licensing. Stuart replied, “It’s a problem.”

Seabolt also took criticism from citizens in the audience. 

Tamberlyn Tanner addressed the workload that McCaysville Chief of Police Michael Earley has taken on. Earley gives monthly updates at City Council meetings, and usually these updates pertain to more than just police business.

In these updates Earley will often speak of upkeep taking place within the city. It is clear from the updates that Earley is the point of contact on many projects including roadwork, bridge inspection, and city infrastructure.

Tanner expressed that these responsibilities should fall on the Mayor and not the city’s Chief of Police.

“How are you supposed to do your job plus do his job?” Tanner spoke to Earley and then turned to Seabolt, “You’ve added things on his plate that you should be doing and you should be taking care of, not him.”

Tanner said that Earley’s main concern should be to protect and serve the citizens of the city, and wonders how he can continue to do so when new responsibilities are being added to his plate regularly.

This turned into a heated debate between Tanner and Seabolt about Seabolt’s inability or unwillingness to handle the responsibilities of mayor with Seabolt finally stating to Tanner, “I’m not going to sit here and listen to you.”

“Well, you will because I pay taxes here,” Tanner replied. 

Seabolt offered no further explanations or defense during the public comments and adjourned the meeting.

 

 

Featured Image : Previous McCaysville City Council meeting. (L-R) Rodney Patterson, Richard Wagner, Thomas Seabolt, and Larry Collis

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Sidewalk Ordinance in the works for City of Blue Ridge

Uncategorized

Blue Ridge, Ga. – City Council, along with the Mayor, say that a sidewalk ordinance is in the works. Still in the beginning stages, the sidewalk ordinance stands to address complaints and concerns expressed by local business owners and visitors.

Drew Dillard, owner of Juliana’s Boutique, a clothing and accessory shop on East Main Street, spoke to council about his personal dealings with a particular street performer who regularly sets up in front of his store.

“For the last year I’ve had a street performer set up outside of my store over two dozen times,” Dillard spoke during the Blue Ridge City Council meeting, “He has a donation bucket, a microphone stand, an umbrella , an umbrella stand, his guitar case, a speaker and a large piece of luggage that he uses to role all of his equipment in.”

Dillard pointed out that this vendor essentially blocks the sidewalk and he has witnessed pedestrians having to walk into the street to get around the performer. He questioned if this would cause a liability issue for the city should there be an accident.

The noise from the performer, however, was Dillard’s main complaint when addressing the council. In order to combat the music being played by the performer, Dillard says he has to close the doors to his shop and turn up his own music: “I have had dozens of customers who have complained to me about it, and there’s nothing I can do because there’s no ordinance in place.”

Beyond the noise, liability, and inconvenience street vendors could cause in the city, Dillard also pointed out that “legitimate business owners” also pay a plethora of fees and taxes, including licenses fees, property taxes, and individual taxes. Local businesses also collect sales tax which in turn gets reinvested in our community.  

Dillard suggested that vendors should pay a permit fee and that the city could designate areas for them to set up.

Upon Dillard completing his argument, Mayor Donna Whitener immediately replied that an ordinance was already being worked out.

Council member Nathan Fitts backed Dillard’s complaints stating, “I’ve had several complaints and phone calls too.” 

“Just so you know we’ve already started that process,” City Attorney James Balli spoke of city efforts on the matter.

Balli pointed out that the city has to do its due diligence in composing the ordinance and must be careful in the wording due to First Amendment rights. The City of McCaysville passed a vendor ordinance earlier this year that was met with controversy for this reason after a street preacher claimed that preaching was no longer allowed on the streets.

Regardless of the wait while an ordinance is being drafted, Balli did say referencing the safety and liability issues: “There may be some other things that can be done if someone is blocking the sidewalk.”

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Sunday Alcohol Sales Pass, McCaysville Election Results

Election, News

McCaysville, Ga. – Polls have closed and votes have been tallied in the City of McCaysville 2019 General Election.

The hot topic on the ballot for this 2019 election was Sunday alcohol sales within city limits. The proposal and reading of the new ordinance was met with little opposition and overwhelming favor at public hearings and City Council meetings.

Georgia, McCayville, Alcohol, Sunday, Election, Early Voting, City Hall, Mayor, City Council, Larry Collis, Sue Beaver, Gilta Carter, Jason Woody, Susan Kiker, Steve Stanley, Tamberlyn Tanner, Nathan Turpin, Rodney Patterson, Thomas Seabolt, Attorney, Cortney Staurt

Although, there appeared to be little opposition to the new ordinance the final count of the votes told a different story with the votes being split on the yes/no question.

Ordinance 19-08-13 currently reads that a licensed establishment within city limits would be allowed “Sunday sales of malt beverages and wine for consumption on the premises”.

These sales can include beer or wine (hard ciders will also be allowed) on Sundays between the hours of 12:30 p.m. and 11:45 p.m.

Voters ultimately decided to allow these sales with a final tally of:

  • Yes (in favor) – 90
  • No (opposed) – 87

Thomas Seabolt will remain as Mayor of McCaysville, beating out opponent Rodney Patterson. Incumbents Larry Collis  and Sue Beaver will also remain as members on the City Council. Newcomers Gilta Carter, Susan Kiker, and Jason Woody will take the three seats vacated by previous council members.

***These election results are unofficial until being certified by the Secretary of State’s office***

ELECTION RESULTS

MAYOR

  • Thomas Seabolt – 117
  • Rodney Patterson – 63

CITY COUNCIL

  • Jason Woody – 146
  • Gilta Carter -131
  • Larry Collis – 122
  • Susan Kiker – 120
  • Sue Beaver – 112
  • Steve Stanley – 93
  • Tamberlyn Tanner – 48
  • Nathan Turpin – 69

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Early voting begins in McCaysville

Community, News

McCaysville, Ga. – Voters will have a lot to decide in the upcoming Nov.5 election in the City of McCaysville. Early voting officially opens Monday, Oct. 14 and will run through Friday, Nov. 1. 

Early voters can cast their ballots at the McCaysville City Hall, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The hot topic on the ballot for this 2019 election is Sunday alcohol sales within city limits. The proposal and reading of the new ordinance was met with little opposition and overwhelming favor at public hearings and City Council meetings.

Ordinance 19-08-13 currently reads that a licensed establishment within city limits would be allowed “Sunday sales of malt beverages and wine for consumption on the premises”. 

These sales can include beer or wine (hard ciders will also be allowed) on Sundays between the hours of 12:30 p.m. and 11:45 p.m.

Establishments, serving alcohol, who stay open beyond 45 minutes of the allowed alcohol sales time window are subject to legal action. No alcohol sales will be allowed on Christmas Day in city limits.

Voters will be asked to answer yes or no to the following question:

“Shall the governing authority of the City of McCaysville Georgia be authorized to permit and regulate Sunday sales of distilled spirits or alcoholic beverages for beverage purposes by the drink?”

Georgia, McCayville, Alcohol, Sunday, Election, Early Voting, City Hall, Mayor, City Council, Larry Collis, Sue Beaver, Gilta Carter, Jason Woody, Susan Kiker, Steve Stanley, Tamberlyn Tanner, Nathan Turpin, Rodney Patterson, Thomas Seabolt, Attorney, Cortney Staurt, Ballot

Incumbent Thomas Seabolt (L) will face Challenger Rodney Seabolt (R) for the seat of Mayor.

McCaysville City Attorney Cortney Stuart clarified that the current ordinance will not allow for the sale of hard liquor even though wording on the ballot suggests otherwise. Staurt explained that by law the term “distilled spirits” had to be included on the ballot.

“Distilled spirits is liquor,” Staurt said explaining the wording,  “however, in the City of McCaysville, now as the ordinance stands, there is only malt beverages and wine allowed inside the City of McCaysville.” 

Staurt did confirm that future councils would have the option of amending the alcohol ordinance to allow liquor sales.

New faces will also be seen on the City Council following the 2019 election. Current council members Tommy Quintrell and Richard Wagner will not be seeking re-election. Council member Rodney Patterson will also be vacating his seat in his bid to become McCaysville’s next mayor.

In total at least 3 seats on the 5 person council will be vacant for newcomers. Voters will decide the next 5 members by popular vote and will have the following to choose from:

  • Larry Collis (Incumbent)
  • Sue Beaver (Incumbent)
  • Gilta Carter
  • Jason Woody
  • Susan Kiker
  • Steve Stanley
  • Tamberlyn Tanner 
  • Nathan Turpin

Voters will also need to decide between incumbent Thomas Seabolt or challenger Rodney Patterson for seat of Mayor.

The General Election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 5. Voters can cast their ballots at McCaysville City Hall on the day of the General Election or during the designated early voting times.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Grand Jury indicts those accused in McKinney murder

Featured Stories, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – A Grand Jury made up of 20 members convened on Feb. 20 and officially indicted those accused in the conspiracy to murder Justin McKinney.

Testimony regarding the findings of the investigation was presented to the Grand Jury. Among those to testify were special agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), law enforcement with the Fannin County Sheriff’s Department, members of Fannin County’s Emergency Services, and staff from the GBI Crime Lab.

The witness list also included personal testimony from victim Anna Franklin, roommate Donald Majors and co-defendant Lakota Cloer.
After hearing testimony, the Grand Jury found that enough evidence was presented to indict each individual that had previously been detained in connection with the murder with a number of charges.

Trials for the accused are expected to move forward with the following charges for each individual:

***In the case of all charges the accused are being charged “individually and as parties concerned in the commission of a crime”***

Stephan Blake Dickey a.k.a. Dye

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Murder, 15 Year Old, 16 Year Old, Blake Dickey, Hunter Hill, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, Public Defender, Clint Hooker, Attorney, David Farnham, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Justin McKinney, Anna Franklin, GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center, Fannin Regional Hospital, Drugs, Dalton Manuel, Lakota Cloer, Special Agent, Jamie Abercrombie, Dustin Hamby, Captain, Justin Turner, Investigator, John Arp, Chief Deputy, Major Keith Bosen, Elrod Lane, Maple Grove Road, Chase Havard, Kevin Chamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel, 20 year old, bond, Grand Jury, Brian Steel, Indictment, Malice Murder, Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony, Felony Murder, Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony, Aggravated Assault, Aggravated Battery, Home Invasion in the First Degree, Burglary in the First Degree, Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony, Violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, Tampering with Evidence

1 count Malice Murder
1 count Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony
1 count Felony Murder
1 count Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony
5 counts Aggravated Assault
1 count Aggravated Battery
2 counts Home Invasion in the First Degree
1 count Burglary in the First Degree
1 count Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony
1 count Violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

 

Hunter Nicholas Hill

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Murder, 15 Year Old, 16 Year Old, Blake Dickey, Hunter Hill, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, Public Defender, Clint Hooker, Attorney, David Farnham, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Justin McKinney, Anna Franklin, GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center, Fannin Regional Hospital, Drugs, Dalton Manuel, Lakota Cloer, Special Agent, Jamie Abercrombie, Dustin Hamby, Captain, Justin Turner, Investigator, John Arp, Chief Deputy, Major Keith Bosen, Elrod Lane, Maple Grove Road, Chase Havard, Kevin Chamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel, 20 year old, bond, Grand Jury, Brian Steel, Indictment, Malice Murder, Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony, Felony Murder, Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony, Aggravated Assault, Aggravated Battery, Home Invasion in the First Degree, Burglary in the First Degree, Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony, Violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, Tampering with Evidence

1 count Malice Murder
1 count Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony
1 count Felony Murder
1 count Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony
5 counts Aggravated Assault
1 count Aggravated Battery
2 counts Home Invasion in the First Degree
1 count Burglary in the First Degree
1 count Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony
1 count Violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

 

Dalton Levi Manuel

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Murder, 15 Year Old, 16 Year Old, Blake Dickey, Hunter Hill, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, Public Defender, Clint Hooker, Attorney, David Farnham, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Justin McKinney, Anna Franklin, GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center, Fannin Regional Hospital, Drugs, Dalton Manuel, Lakota Cloer, Special Agent, Jamie Abercrombie, Dustin Hamby, Captain, Justin Turner, Investigator, John Arp, Chief Deputy, Major Keith Bosen, Elrod Lane, Maple Grove Road, Chase Havard, Kevin Chamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel, 20 year old, bond, Grand Jury, Brian Steel, Indictment, Malice Murder, Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony, Felony Murder, Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony, Aggravated Assault, Aggravated Battery, Home Invasion in the First Degree, Burglary in the First Degree, Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony, Violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, Tampering with Evidence

1 count Malice Murder
1 count Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony
1 count Felony Murder
1 count Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony
5 counts Aggravated Assault
1 count Aggravated Battery
2 counts Home Invasion in the First Degree
1 count Burglary in the First Degree
1 count Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony
1 count Violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

 

Kevin Jack Chamaty

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Murder, 15 Year Old, 16 Year Old, Blake Dickey, Hunter Hill, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, Public Defender, Clint Hooker, Attorney, David Farnham, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Justin McKinney, Anna Franklin, GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center, Fannin Regional Hospital, Drugs, Dalton Manuel, Lakota Cloer, Special Agent, Jamie Abercrombie, Dustin Hamby, Captain, Justin Turner, Investigator, John Arp, Chief Deputy, Major Keith Bosen, Elrod Lane, Maple Grove Road, Chase Havard, Kevin Chamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel, 20 year old, bond, Grand Jury, Brian Steel, Indictment, Malice Murder, Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony, Felony Murder, Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony, Aggravated Assault, Aggravated Battery, Home Invasion in the First Degree, Burglary in the First Degree, Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony, Violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, Tampering with Evidence

1 count Malice Murder
1 count Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony
1 count Felony Murder
1 count Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony
5 counts Aggravated Assault
1 count Aggravated Battery
2 counts Home Invasion in the First Degree
1 count Burglary in the First Degree
1 count Tampering with Evidence
1 count Violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

 

Michael Chase Havard

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Murder, 15 Year Old, 16 Year Old, Blake Dickey, Hunter Hill, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, Public Defender, Clint Hooker, Attorney, David Farnham, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Justin McKinney, Anna Franklin, GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center, Fannin Regional Hospital, Drugs, Dalton Manuel, Lakota Cloer, Special Agent, Jamie Abercrombie, Dustin Hamby, Captain, Justin Turner, Investigator, John Arp, Chief Deputy, Major Keith Bosen, Elrod Lane, Maple Grove Road, Chase Havard, Kevin Chamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel, 20 year old, bond, Grand Jury, Brian Steel, Indictment, Malice Murder, Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony, Felony Murder, Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony, Aggravated Assault, Aggravated Battery, Home Invasion in the First Degree, Burglary in the First Degree, Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony, Violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, Tampering with Evidence

1 count Malice Murder
1 count Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony
1 count Felony Murder
1 count Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony
5 counts Aggravated Assault
1 count Aggravated Battery
2 counts Home Invasion in the First Degree
1 count Burglary in the First Degree
1 count Tampering with Evidence
1 count Violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

 

Lakota Ricky Cloer

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Murder, 15 Year Old, 16 Year Old, Blake Dickey, Hunter Hill, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, Public Defender, Clint Hooker, Attorney, David Farnham, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Justin McKinney, Anna Franklin, GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center, Fannin Regional Hospital, Drugs, Dalton Manuel, Lakota Cloer, Special Agent, Jamie Abercrombie, Dustin Hamby, Captain, Justin Turner, Investigator, John Arp, Chief Deputy, Major Keith Bosen, Elrod Lane, Maple Grove Road, Chase Havard, Kevin Chamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel, 20 year old, bond, Grand Jury, Brian Steel, Indictment, Malice Murder, Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony, Felony Murder, Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony, Aggravated Assault, Aggravated Battery, Home Invasion in the First Degree, Burglary in the First Degree, Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony, Violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, Tampering with Evidence

Cloer has already pled guilty to the lesser charges of two counts Aggravated Assault and one count Robbery by Intimidation. As part of the plea deal Cloer faces a 40 year sentence, 15 of those years to be served in prison with the remaining 25 years to be served on probation.

Cloer recently turned 17 years old and according to Georgia law is no longer considered a minor. Sources tell FetchYourNews that Cloer was moved from the juvenile facility housing him to a state prison on his birthday.

 

 

 

The Charges Explained:

The charge of Malice Murder is in direct relation with the shooting death of Justin McKinney. In the state of Georgia malice murder means the intent to take a life without legal justification or mitigation. In this case the State does not need to prove a motive in order to obtain a conviction but instead will attempt to show that the person accused deliberately intended to take another person’s life.

Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony is in relation to the shooting of victim Anna Franklin. By discharging a firearm in her direction and ultimately wounding her, the accused are being charged with the intent to commit a specific crime. In this case the intent was to commit malice murder.

Felony Murder of Justin McKinney. Felony murder charges are brought about when the accused commit the offense of murder while in the process of engaging in other felony related offences. The State alleges in this case of felony murder that the following felony offences were taking place: Home Invasion, Burglary in the First Degree, Aggravated Assault, and Criminal Attempt to Commit Armed Robbery.

The State also brought charges of Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony. This charge is in relation to the intent of the accused specifically planning and attempting to carry out Armed Robbery. This charge is further laid out in the accused’s premeditation of the event and the steps taken to carry out the crime.

Each defendant has been charged with five counts of Aggravated Assault. Each count is in direct relation with the crimes committed against both Justin McKinney and Anna Franklin and focuses on the use of firearms.

The Aggravated Battery count pertains to Anna Franklin and how essentially her body was rendered “useless” due to the gun shot she received that went through her arm and lodged in her neck.

The two counts of Home Invasion in the First Degree charges the defendants with entering the Franklin home without authority and with intent of forcible felony. This count explains that the accused entered the home with deadly weapons with intent to commit Armed Robbery.

Burglary in the First Degree is a similar charge to the Home Invasion in the First Degree in that it claims the accused entered the dwelling with intent of Armed Robbery and in possession of deadly weapons.

By conspiring to commit Armed Robbery with the intent to also commit murder, all five defendants face a count of Violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The state shows that through the accused’s actions there was a pattern of conspiracy and criminal activity.

According to the federal law, The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly referred to as the RICO Act or simply RICO, provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization.

The three defendants charged with Possession of Firearm During Commission of a Felony are Dye, Hill, and Manuel. The counts claim Dye possessed a Rossi 410 shotgun, Hill was in possession of Grendel Inc. p-12 .380 handgun, and Manuel carried an Excam .25 caliber handgun.

Lastly Chamaty and Havard face charges of Tampering with Evidence by abetting Dye, Hill, and Manuel in the removal and concealing of the weapons used in the crime.

Follow FetchYourNews for the latest information involving the case. You can read more about the McKinney Murder Case by clicking the links below.

Fatal Shooting in Fannin County
Details Emerge Surrounding Murder Case in Fannin County
Two More Arrested in McKinney Murder Case
McKinney Murder. What Happened That Night. FYN Exclusive Interview With Survivor Anna Franklin
“Pop and Rob”: McKinney Murder Motive Revealed By Prosecution
Bond Denied for Accused McKinney Killer
40 Years To Serve 15: Cloer Accepts Plea Deal in McKinney Murder Case
Two Adults Arrested in McKinney Murder Case
$50,000 Bond Set for Chamaty and Havard in Connection with the Murder of Justin McKinney

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Fannin County opens door for competition in waste removal pricing

Business, Community, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Fannin County Board of Commissioners (BOC) began the process of opening up the way for competition when it comes to waste removal in the county.

Recent commission meetings showed much discussion about the current contract with Advanced Disposal. The contract set to expire on Sept. 1 of this year, requires the BOC give at least 180 day notice if there is intent to amend or cease further business with the company.

Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson expressed his disappoint with the company’s automatic 3 percent increase in price annually and said, “We’re where we’re at because there’s one company. You can’t get a competing price when no one else will bid.”

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Post 1 Commissioner, Post 2 Commissioner, Stan Helton, Earl Johsnon, Glenn Patterson, Advanced Disposal, Tony Sidebotham, Operations Manager, Contract, Renewal, Glass Recycling, Competition, Attorney, Lynn Doss

Board of Commissioners speak with attorney Lynn Doss about opening the door to competition.

All board members did recognize the asset Advanced Disposal has become to Fannin County through their community partnerships and participation.
“The intent is not to get rid of ADS. We still need them as an operator in our county,” Chairman Stan Helton spoke of the intentions behind the contract discussions.

Helton added that the BOC intentions were “to introduce competition, someone that can do the job, that would have a transfer station, and see if we (BOC) could open the door up for them to at least quote, bid, or prove to us that they would be a viable alternative, another resource for the county.”

An individual has come forward and spoken with commissioners about the possibility to offering their services to the county. Helton had a meeting with the individual that he referred to as being “positive”.

“This is a gentleman that has an interest in serving the community and he’s got equipment and a transfer station that would be available,” Helton said explaining the meeting and pointed out that the services the individual could provide would be on a much smaller scale than Advanced Disposal.

Post 2 Commissioner Glenn Patterson shared his thoughts that “competition’s always good”.

Previously Fannin County was under consent and by court order could only allow for one solid waste transfer station to operate. This order has since expired.

Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss told the BOC that she would review the consent order and work towards allowing for the county to have more than one solid waste transfer station and recommended that the BOC develop a pricing template for waste removal before seeking bids.

Johnson added to this that the county needs a set of requirements, above the already mandated state requirements, to ensure that companies operating in the county are permitted by the state and capable of delivering the results that are agreed upon.

Helton reiterated that he is not in favor of eliminating Advanced Disposal’s services as the county’s primary supplier and added that he didn’t feel that anyone at this time is in a position to take the place of Advanced Disposal.

“We felt if there was some way to open up a little bit of competition, perhaps that would be the favorable result for the county,” Helton explained that perhaps in years to come that a door would open to receive numerous bids.

Johnson spoke of Advance Disposal, “Advanced, as far as I know, they handle all of the garbage the county has right now. They do a good job of it,” but added that his goal is to stabilize costs: “I think we should look at every route to try to reduce our prices.”

No official vote was needed in the matter and with all three commissioners in agreement about saving the residents of Fannin County money, they gave the go ahead to Doss to notify Advanced Disposal of their intent to negotiate the upcoming contract.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

$50,000 bond set for Chamaty and Havard in connection with the murder of Justin McKinney

Featured Stories, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – “What I am going to do here, is I am going to set bond at $50,000,” Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver made her ruling and granted bond for Michael Chase Havard age 20 and Kevin Jack Chamaty age 20, both of whom have been charged in connection with the murder and Justin McKinney and assault of Anna Franklin.

The terms of the bond are strict with both men being required constant supervision and a host of stipulations that if not followed will result in immediate arrest.

The courtroom was packed in Pickens County as the two young men each had lawyers present their case for being allowed bond.

Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee recounted the events that led to the arrest of Havard and Chamaty in a written statement given by Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) Special Agent Jamie Abercrombie.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Murder, 15 Year Old, 16 Year Old, Blake Dickey, Hunter Hill, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, Public Defender, Clint Hooker, Attorney, David Farnham, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Justin McKinney, Anna Franklin, GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center, Fannin Regional Hospital, Drugs, Dalton Manuel, Lakota Cloer, Special Agent, Jamie Abercrombie, Dustin Hamby, Captain, Justin Turner, Investigator, John Arp, Chief Deputy, Major Keith Bosen, Elrod Lane, Maple Grove Road, Chase Havard, Kevin Chamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel, 20 year old, bond, $50,000, Brian Steel

Defense Attorney Brian Steel presents the case for bond to be granted for his client Kevin Jack Chamaty.

According to Abercrombie both men knew of the conspiracy to murder and rob McKinney and aided in the act by providing gas and rides the night of the incident on Dec. 4, 2018 and also helped in disposing of one of the weapons used in the crime.

The GBI learned of the young men’s involvement after Havard voluntarily came forward and spoke with investigators about his knowledge and the roles that he and Chamaty played in the events surrounding the case.

Chris Hyde, Chamaty’s stepfather, was first to take the stand. Questioned by Defense Attorney Brian Steel, Hyde was firm in his belief that if granted bond Chamaty would return to court to face trial: “I believe 100 percent he would return, without hesitation.”

While Hyde is no longer married to Chamaty’s mother, Christy Hyde, Christy still resides in the home with Hyde and is currently serving 15 years probation for a methamphetamine and weapons charge in 2015. It was pointed out that Chamaty’s mother is serving under the First Time Offenders Act.

Gerald Patterson, who resides with Chamaty’s grandmother Rachel Newman, also took the stand to testify on behalf of Chamaty receiving bond.

Patterson who has resided with Newman for approximately 5 years, spoke of his belief that Chamaty does not pose a threat to the community, and like Hyde was willing to “put up his wealth” as a guarantee.

Sosebee took the court off guard as she questioned Patterson: “Is this the same Ms. Newman (Chamaty’s grandmother) that was convicted in 1990 of voluntary manslaughter for the shooting death of her ex husband?”

“Yes ma’am it is,” Patterson replied to Sosebee’s question.

Chamaty, himself, does have a prior record with law enforcement, but the nature of his charges were never fully disclosed in court. Despite Chamaty having a family with a history of run ins with the law, many supporters were present for the young man.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Murder, 15 Year Old, 16 Year Old, Blake Dickey, Hunter Hill, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, Public Defender, Clint Hooker, Attorney, David Farnham, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Justin McKinney, Anna Franklin, GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center, Fannin Regional Hospital, Drugs, Dalton Manuel, Lakota Cloer, Special Agent, Jamie Abercrombie, Dustin Hamby, Captain, Justin Turner, Investigator, John Arp, Chief Deputy, Major Keith Bosen, Elrod Lane, Maple Grove Road, Chase Havard, Kevin Chamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel, 20 year old, bond, $50,000, Brian Steel

The gallery stood to show their support of Chamaty and Havard.

After testimony from Hyde and Patterson, neither of whom have criminal backgrounds, Defense Attorney Steel turned to the courtroom gallery and asked those there to support Chamaty to please stand: “If you would do me a courtesy, if you would please stand in your place if you have come here today to support bond being granted for Mr. Chamaty.”

Approximately 30 people rose and remained standing as they testified their belief that Chamaty would in fact return to court and does not pose a threat to the community. Chamaty became visibly emotional during this phase.

“Nobody is in any way diminishing the loss of life for any person or living creature, but here we stand before the court in a position where Mr. Chamaty is cloaked with the presumption of innocence,” Steel concluded his case and pointed to the fact that Chamaty had followed a legal process in dealing with this case thus far and had voluntarily turned himself in.

Sosebee argued for the court to deny bond questioning why a 20 year old would be living with a 16 year old (Lakota Cloer : co-defendant in the case) and pointing to lack of accountability by the family prior to the incident.

“There are several juveniles in this court right now,” Sosebee said explaining that Chamaty’s pattern of behavior was likely not to change. “As a matter of fact we have the sister of Lakota Cloer who present in the gallery now, here in support of Mr. Chamaty. The connections, the continuation that Mr. Chamaty has with the witnesses in this case have not ceased.”

Sosebee added that while Chamaty had voluntarily turned himself, he had also “voluntarily facilitated the commission of those acts” in the crimes he is alleged to have participated in on Dec. 4.

Ultimately, Weaver granted bond set at $50,000. Along with this bond, Chamaty must be under constant supervision from Mr. Hyde including going to work.

“Mr. Hyde now has a shadow on him,” Weaver said of her ruling, “I am putting the burden on Mr. Hyde.”

Chamaty will be under house arrest and only allowed to leave with Mr. Hyde for work, church, medical or legal appointments. Chamaty will also be subjected to random drug testing in which he must call every morning to find out if he will be tested that day.

No contact with victims or co-defendants including co-defendant’s families will be allowed, and a curfew of 8 p.m. is set in place. Both Hyde and Patterson put up their personal property to insure the bond.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Murder, 15 Year Old, 16 Year Old, Blake Dickey, Hunter Hill, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, Public Defender, Clint Hooker, Attorney, David Farnham, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Justin McKinney, Anna Franklin, GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center, Fannin Regional Hospital, Drugs, Dalton Manuel, Lakota Cloer, Special Agent, Jamie Abercrombie, Dustin Hamby, Captain, Justin Turner, Investigator, John Arp, Chief Deputy, Major Keith Bosen, Elrod Lane, Maple Grove Road, Chase Havard, Kevin Chamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel, 20 year old, bond, $50,000, Brian Steel

Havard and Chamaty sit with their attorneys awaiting Weaver’s decision to grant bond.

Havard’s terms of bond were very similar to the parameters set in place by Weaver for Chamaty’s bond.

Havard’s father, Chris Havard, spoke on his son’s behalf. He explained that his son had contacted him regarding the events that took place on Dec. 4 and that he had advised his son to go to the police in which Havard did almost immediately.

Havard, after speaking with investigators, then went to stay with his father who resides in Raleigh, Nc. According to Chris Havard, “I decided to pick him up and bring him to Raleigh.”

When the young man was informed of a warrant out for his arrest, Chris Havard made arrangements for his son to voluntarily turn himself in: “I personally drove him there (back to Fannin County).”

Havard’s father explained that while he would like for his son to return with him to North Carolina if granted bond, he understood that that might not be possible and had made arrangements for his son to live with his grandmother in Ellijay, Ga.

Diane Conway, Havard’s grandmother took the stand to confirm that she would take responsibility upon Havard’s release.

Conway admitted to being very upset by the events that have taken place but still would do anything to help her grandson: “I believe in him.”

Despite her belief in her grandson, she also has a firm belief in the law and when questioned whether she understood that if Havard violated any of the terms of the bond that he would be placed under custody she nodded and replied, “I would report him,” and added “He’s just going to have to go with me wherever I go. I have no problem with it.”

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Murder, 15 Year Old, 16 Year Old, Blake Dickey, Hunter Hill, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, Public Defender, Clint Hooker, Attorney, David Farnham, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Justin McKinney, Anna Franklin, GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center, Fannin Regional Hospital, Drugs, Dalton Manuel, Lakota Cloer, Special Agent, Jamie Abercrombie, Dustin Hamby, Captain, Justin Turner, Investigator, John Arp, Chief Deputy, Major Keith Bosen, Elrod Lane, Maple Grove Road, Chase Havard, Kevin Chamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel, 20 year old, bond, $50,000, Brian Steel

Judge Weaver expressed her thoughts on the responsibility of all involved in the case.

“If he’s to work, I don’t know how I would do that. I would just have to keep him at home with me,” Conway did express concern about being unable to supervise him on a job.

The court handed down the same stipulations of bond that were set forth for Chamaty with the exception that the bond could be amended if Havard gained employment and at a minimum would be required to where an electronic monitoring device while at work.

Both Conway and Chris Havard put up personal property to insure Havard’s bond. All insurances by both families will need to be approved by the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office prior to release.

The bond issued will also cover any further charges that might be handed down by a Grand Jury.

Judge Weaver shared her thoughts on the circumstances surrounding the McKinney murder case: “Frankly, I’m just not real happy with the parents or grandparents of any of these children. In every one of these defendants, these children were basically let go their entire life. Which we don’t do that as parents.”

“None of this should have ever occurred because somebody should have known where these kids were,” Weaver continued to address the court, “That’s not how you raise children. I think every bit of this could have been prevented if the parents were just exercising what they should be doing as parents to begin with, which is knowing where there children are on a school night at 1 o’clock in the morning.”

All suspects are expected to face a Grand Jury soon in Fannin County and move forward to trial.

You can read more about the McKinney Murder Case by following the links below:

Fatal Shooting in Fannin County
Details Emerge Surrounding Murder Case in Fannin County
Two More Arrested in McKinney Murder Case
McKinney Murder. What Happened That Night. FYN Exclusive Interview With Survivor Anna Franklin
“Pop and Rob”: McKinney Murder Motive Revealed By Prosecution
Bond Denied for Accused McKinney Killer
40 Years To Serve 15: Cloer Accepts Plea Deal in McKinney Murder Case
Two Adults Arrested in McKinney Murder Case

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Two adults have now been arrested in McKinney Murder Case

Featured, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Two more have been arrested in the McKinney murder case.


Twenty year old Michael Chase Havard and twenty year old Kevin Jack Chamaty. Both individuals are being charged with murder.


Attention was first drawn to Havard and Chamaty when Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) Special Agent Jamie Abercrombie testified at an initial appearance and bond hearing for the juveniles also charged in the case.

(Left to Right) Kevin Jack Chamaty (Age :20) and Micheal Chase Havard (Age :20) have been charged in connection with the murder of Justin McKinney.


According to Abercrombie another individual came forward on night of Wednesday Dec. 5, 2018. Havard voluntarily arrived at the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office and told staff that he had information regarding the McKinney murder.


Abercrombie said, “Havard provided a written statement.” The Special Agent also told about how Havard shed light onto the shooter of Franklin.


Havard was visiting a friend, Kevin Chamaty, who resided at Lakota Cloer’s residence on Dec. 3. Cloer who had been charged in the McKinney murder accepted a plea deal in which he will have to serve 15 years behind bars.


It was during this visit that Havard recalled Hunter Hill, Blake Dickey, both of which have been charged with the murder of Justin McKinney and assault of Anna Franklin, along with Cloer and another individual, 15 year old Levi Manuel, were discussing the plans to “pop and rob” McKinney.


According to the interview with Havard, Hill said that the four were “going to rob someone who had marijuana and pills” and asked Havard if he wanted in. Hill also told Havard that they were going to shoot everyone there and take whatever they have.


Havard declined and left with friend Chamaty to go to Walmart. Chamaty received a call later that night in the early morning hours of Dec. 4 from Cloer. Cloer stated that he was on Maple Grove Road and was in need of gas.


Havard and Chamaty drove to meet Cloer and gave him gas for his truck. Cloer was by himself and told Havard that he had dropped off Hill, Dickey and Manuel on Elrod Lane.


Having not heard from Manuel, Havard and Cloer went to look for the three. Chamaty parked at a church and waited for Havard to return.


As Havard walked down Elrod Lane, he says that he saw a light and heard “it’s me” in a voice that he recognized as Manuel.


Once back to Cloer’s truck the juveniles, along with Havard, met Chamaty and proceeded back to the Cloer residence.


“Mr. Hill had made statements that everyone was dead,” Abercrombie recalled Havard’s testimony. Havard also stated that Manuel made comments that he had unloaded a clip into the girl and that Hill, who was last out of the residence, stated that he had finished Franklin off and killed Donald Majors, a third resident who was present at the Franklin home where McKinney had been murdered.


The boys at this point believed that everyone in the home was deceased.
Havard stated that Manuel was the one who had the .25 caliber handgun, and admitted that he had advised Cloer to dispose of the weapon.


Cloer attempted to scratch off the serial numbers on the handgun before getting rid of the weapon. Chamaty then drove Havard and Cloer to the “cliffs at Nottely Lake” where Cloer threw the gun into the water.


Havard later took FCSO Investigator John Arp and GBI Special Agent Abercrombie to Nottely Lake and showed where the handgun had been thrown. With the help of divers the gun was recovered.


FetchYourNews will keep you up-to-date as further details emerge surrounding the McKinney Murder Case.

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

40 years to serve 15: Cloer accepts plea deal in McKinney murder case

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Blue Ridge, Ga. – There was a noticeable absence at the preliminary hearing that was held regarding the death of Justin McKinney and the deadly assault of Anna Franklin.

In the courtroom were Blake Dickey (also known as Blake Dye), Hunter Hill, and attorney Bruce Harvey who spoke on behalf of his client Levi Manuel. All three boys have been accused in the shooting death of McKinney that took place on Dec. 4, 2018.

Not in the courtroom during this initial phase was the fourth juvenile accused in the case, Lakota Cloer, and while his attorney Charles Fulcher was present, unlike Harvey, he did not speak to his client’s absence.

After bond was denied in the case of accused shooter Blake Dickey, the courtroom cleared, and Lakota Cloer was brought in. Cloer’s family, along with family members of Justin McKinney, watched as Cloer plead guilty to lesser charges. Emotions were high on both sides.

Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee spoke first, “We have reached a negotiated plea offer. This is a 3 count felony accusation.”

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Murder, 15 Year Old, 16 Year Old, Blake Dickey, Hunter Hill, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, Public Defender, Clint Hooker, Attorney, David Farnham, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Justin McKinney, Anna Franklin, GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center, Fannin Regional Hospital, Drugs, Dalton Manuel, Lakota Cloer, Special Agent, Jamie Abercrombie, Dustin Hamby, Captain, Justin Turner, Investigator, John Arp, Chief Deputy, Major Keith Bosen, Elrod Lane, Maple Grove Road, Chase Havard, Kevin Shamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel, Bruce Harvey

16 year old Lakota Cloer was arrested in Dec. 2018 for his role in the McKinney murder.

Sosebee explained that family members of the victims had been notified of this deal, and that there had been extensive discussions with defense attorney Fulcher.

The new charges that were agreed upon as part of this arrangement are:

1 Count Aggravated Assault : This charge is in relation to victim Justin McKinney. Cloer is being charged in aiding and abetting in this crime, as well as having knowledge of the crime.

1 County Robbery by Intimidation: This charge is in relation to the motive that ultimately ended in the death of McKinney and the serious injury of Franklin. As with the other charges this applies to Cloer since he engaged in discussion and planning of the crime. Along with aiding and abetting Cloer also admits to providing a gun to co-defendant Levi Manuel.

1 Count Aggravated Assault: This charge is in relation to victim Anna Franklin. Cloer admits guilt to intentionally aiding and abetting in this crime that involved the use of a deadly weapon.

By reaching a plea bargain, Cloer waived several rights including that to have a trial by jury and for his case to be seen in front of a grand jury.

It was revealed during this hearing that Cloer had previously been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had been and is currently on medication to combat symptoms. Despite this diagnosis no competency or psychological testing was performed to evaluate Cloer’s state of mind.

Fulcher having spoke with his client, Cloer, on many occasions felt that he was competent to make decisions and said to the court: “I don’t have any concerns whatsoever about his competency. He understands the consequences of the decisions that he makes today.”

Appalachian Judicial District Chief Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver asked Cloer a series of questions to satisfy the court of Cloer’s competency and to have a record of his replies.

Weaver also questioned Cloer’s mother, Amanda McGaha, about her feelings on her son’s mental state and if she felt Cloer understood what was happening in the courtroom. McGaha replied that she was confident that her son understood the proceedings now that he was on proper medication.

Cloer was able to reply clearly to each question asked by Judge Weaver which allowed the proceedings to move forward.

Weaver explained that sentencing for his plea would take place that day, but that a restitution hearing would be scheduled at a later date. A restitution hearing will determine what, if any, payments Cloer will have to pay to the victims for the harm caused by his wrongful acts.

After thoroughly explaining what a plea deal means and giving a detailed account of what rights Cloer would be waiving by pleading guilty and accepting the charges, Weaver asked Cloer, “Has anyone used any force, threat, pressure, or intimidation that caused you to enter this plea?”

Cloer replied, “No, you honor.”

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Murder, 15 Year Old, 16 Year Old, Blake Dickey, Hunter Hill, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, Public Defender, Clint Hooker, Attorney, David Farnham, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Justin McKinney, Anna Franklin, GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center, Fannin Regional Hospital, Drugs, Dalton Manuel, Lakota Cloer, Special Agent, Jamie Abercrombie, Dustin Hamby, Captain, Justin Turner, Investigator, John Arp, Chief Deputy, Major Keith Bosen, Elrod Lane, Maple Grove Road, Chase Havard, Kevin Shamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel, Bruce Harvey

Cloer sets alongside accused Levi Manuel at a first appearance in Fannin County.

With that the sentence was handed down.

For the first Count of Aggravated Assault in relation to Justin McKinney, Cloer is sentence to 20 years having to serve 15 of those years in the Georgia State Prison System.

The second Count of Robbery by Intimidation will have Cloer serving 10 years in the Georgia Prison System. This sentence is to run concurrent with the sentencing from Count One.

Lastly, Cloer was sentenced to 20 years of probation for the Aggravated Assault of Anna Franklin. This sentence is to run consecutively with the sentencing from Count One.

Overall, Cloer received a 40 year sentence, 15 of those years to be served in prison with the remaining 25 years to be served on probation.

A victim impact statement prepared by McKinney’s mother, Debra McKinney Bignardi, was read by District Attorney Sosebee.

According to this statement, at the time of McKinney’s murder the family was also dealing with the impending loss of one of McKinney’s nephews “who spent his last days on Earth mourning the loss of his uncle”.

Bignardi was left wondering why. Why the death of her son, why if he had done something wrong that the boys did not feel that he too deserved a fair trial as they were getting.

She noted 6 families were victims of this crime, and that by taking the life of her son, Justin McKinney, that the boys had also in a sense taken their own lives, and that all the families are left to mourn the future.

Bignardi pleaded that the boys be able to find programs while in prison to provide some sort of rehabilitation: “Our hope is that when these young men are released from prison they are not worse off than when they went in.”

After the emotional victim impact statement was read, Judge Weaver spoke to the court, “It is never easy to sentence young people.”

“This is a tragedy in every sense of the word,” Weaver went on and expressed hope that others will learn from this. Weaver stated that she hopes for youth to recognize and stay away from activities that can lead to criminal behavior, and that parents will be more involved in their children’s lives, knowing who they are with and knowing where they are.

Weaver concluded the hearing by saying, “My heart goes out to all of the individuals involved in this case.”

As court was recessed Cloer was allowed to briefly speak to his family. The group shared a very emotional goodbye before Cloer was escorted out of the Fannin County courtroom to begin his sentence for his part in the McKinney murder case.

You can read more about the McKinney Murder Case by following the links below:

Fatal Shooting in Fannin County

Details Emerge Surrounding Murder Case in Fannin County

Two More Arrested in McKinney Murder Case

McKinney Murder. What Happened That Night. FYN Exclusive Interview With Survivor Anna Franklin

“Pop and Rob”: McKinney Murder Motive Revealed By Prosecution

Bond Denied for Accused McKinney Killer

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Bond denied for accused McKinney killer

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Blue Ridge, Ga. – Only one of the four accused in the McKinney murder case sought bond after the preliminary hearing took place in a Fannin County Courtroom.

Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver presided over the case and as the preliminary hearing came to a close stated, “The Court does find that probable cause has been established.”

The State had met their burden of proof in establishing a case against the boys being charged with Malice Murder, Felony Murder, Aggravated Assault, and Aggravated Battery. Now the burden of proof fell upon the defense to satisfy reasoning for letting any of the boys out on bond.

Fifteen year old Blake Dickey (also known as Blake Dye) sat alongside his attorney David Farnham as the court began the bond hearing.

Farnham argued that his client, Dickey, should be considered for release, and did in fact satisfy all the factors required by state law in Georgia for this consideration.

According to Farnham, Dickey had no prior convictions and had never been involved in anything violent in his life. If released Dickey did not pose a threat to the community and was not a risk for intimidation of any witnesses.

Farnham went on that if the court granted bond, Dickey would return to school where he would be supervised by a panel of teachers and that Dickey would begin residing with his mother where he would be under constant supervision at home.

Lastly Farnham pointed out that both of Dickey’s parents reside in Fannin County and said, “”He’s not a flight risk, Judge. His entire family is here.”

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Murder, 15 Year Old, 16 Year Old, Blake Dickey, Hunter Hill, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, Public Defender, Clint Hooker, Attorney, David Farnham, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Justin McKinney, Anna Franklin, GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center, Fannin Regional Hospital, Drugs, Dalton Manuel, Lakota Cloer, Special Agent, Jamie Abercrombie, Dustin Hamby, Captain, Justin Turner, Investigator, John Arp, Chief Deputy, Major Keith Bosen, Elrod Lane, Maple Grove Road, Chase Havard, Kevin Shamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel, Bruce Harvey

Accused Blake Dickey (left) sits next to accused Hunter Hill at a previous hearing.

The Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee stepped in and presented her thoughts regarding the bonding of Dickey.

Sosebee pointed out that prior to the arrest Dickey was residing with the Hill family and added of the boys, “They were in an unsupervised environment, that clearly allows them to travel at will.”

While Farnham had stated his case for release, Sosebee argued that he had failed to present sufficient evidence backing his claims, which is required by Georgia law for cases of this nature: “there has been no evidence presented on behalf of the defendant in this case.”

After hearing both sides, Judge Weaver denied bond for Dickey agreeing that the burden of proof on the defense’s behalf had not been satisfied. Weaver added to this, “The issue of supervision has been in the Court’s mind during most of this hearing.”

Attorney Karen Shelley opted to not file a motion for a bond hearing at the time, leaving her client, accused 15 year old Hunter Hill to remain in a juvenile detention facility for the time being.

A third party in the group of juveniles accused, Levi Manuel, will have a preliminary hearing and possible bond hearing at a later date. This comes from Manuel recently switching his legal representation.

Attorney Bruce Harvey of Atlanta, Ga. will now represent Manuel in the McKinney murder trial. This move came as a surprise to the court and to Manuel’s previous council attorney Andrew Wehunt.

Judge Weaver noted that while she had received Harvey’s appearance filing that she did not see a withdraw from Wehunt, and thought that Wehunt might have been taken off guard by this move.

Harvey, the high profile Atlanta based attorney, has represented his fair share of clients in Manuel’s position and was already making moves in the courtroom as he asked for a delay in Manuel’s first appearance / bond hearing.

According to Harvey, Manuel’s previous council had filed a motion for a psychological and competency evaluation to find out if the boy was capable of standing trial. This evaluation was never completed and Harvey felt that moving forward without this information would not be in his or his client’s best interest.

Judge Weaver along with District Attorney Sosebee agreed to have this testing done and postpone the first appearance hearing. Manuel’s hearing has tentatively been moved to take place on Feb. 18, 2019.

You can read more on the McKinney Murder Case by following the links below:

Fatal Shooting in Fannin County

Details Emerge Surrounding Murder Case in Fannin County

Two More Arrested in McKinney Murder Case

McKinney Murder. What Happened That Night. FYN Exclusive Interview With Survivor Anna Franklin

“Pop and Rob”: McKinney Murder Motive Revealed By Prosecution

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

“Pop and Rob”: McKinney murder motive revealed by prosecution

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Blue Ridge, Ga. – The prosecution painted a picture of what took place in the early morning hours of Dec. 4, 2018 that left one Fannin County resident, Justin McKinney, dead and another, Anna Franklin, seriously injured.

According to the state’s findings, the McKinney murder was not a case of revenge but rather a cold blooded, premeditated murder, in which the juveniles involved intended to “pop and rob” the victims.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) Special Agent Jamie Abercrombie was assigned to the case when Captain Justin Turner of the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) contacted GBI for assistance with the murder.

Special Agent Abercrombie recalled listening to the 911 call placed by victim Anna Franklin the night of the murder.

“Hunter Hill and Blake Dickey were at her (Franklin’s) residence at the time of the shooting,” Abercrombie said recollecting Franklin’s initial call for help, “and that is how I first learned of Mr. Hill and Dickey.”

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Murder, 15 Year Old, 16 Year Old, Blake Dickey, Hunter Hill, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, Public Defender, Clint Hooker, Attorney, David Farnham, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Justin McKinney, Anna Franklin, GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center, Fannin Regional Hospital, Drugs, Dalton Manuel, Lakota Cloer, Special Agent, Jamie Abercrombie, Dustin Hamby, Captain, Justin Turner, Investigator, John Arp, Chief Deputy, Major Keith Bosen, Elrod Lane, Maple Grove Road, Chase Havard, Kevin Shamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel

Accused Hunter Hill (15) and Blake Dickey (15) set in a Fannin County Courtroom at a previous appearance.

Both Dickey and Hill knew the victim McKinney well and had been to his home on numerous occasions to buy marijuana.

The scene at 135 Elrod Lane in Morganton, Ga. was laid out, as Abercrombie described walking into the single-wide trailer. The kitchen and living room had an open floor plan and there was a bedroom located on either side of this main area.

After walking up the ramp that led to the front door, Abercrombie said of what she saw when she entered the home, “Mr. McKinney was deceased in the floor of the kitchen area and the wood-stove area.”

There was a single spent 410 shotgun shell located at the scene, and this was the weapon used on McKinney. According to Abercrombie, “He had been shot in the back of the head.”

Franklin who had already been taken to the hospital had been shot through the arm, which she had used to shield her face during the attack, and the bullet, unable to be removed, remains in her neck.

Two .25 caliber shell casings were found at the crime scene. These belonged to the weapon used to attack Anna Franklin.

Abercrombie later learned that a third resident of the home had been present the night of the shooting. Donald Majors was asleep in the second bedroom when the shooting occurred, but having drank heavily before retiring Majors did not even know a shooting had occurred.

“They (FCSO) woke him up. He was asleep in his room and law enforcement woke him up,” Abercrombie told the story of Majors being unable to provide any details of the night during her interview process.

Abercrombie, along with GBI Special Agent Dustin Hamby, located both Dickey and Hill at Fannin County High School the next day, and by coordinating with school staff were able to apprehend the two fifteen year olds in the principal’s office and take them in for questioning.

“He was not truthful with me in the beginning,” Abercrombie said of her interview with Dickey.

After a short time Dickey did tell his story of the night and admitted that he had been the one to kill McKinney with the shotgun. Dickey stated to Abercrombie that they had planned it out and that they had planned to shoot both McKinney and Franklin.

Dickey did claim that the killing was done out of revenge. According to Dickey, McKinney had been selling Hill’s older brother, Logan Hill, methamphetamine (meth) and that Logan had become severely addicted and was injecting the drug.

This addiction had left Logan hospitalized, and McKinney was the one who provided the meth. Dickey was the only juvenile involved that Abercrombie heard this motive from at that time.

Hill who was interviewed by Special Agent Hamby backed up Dickey’s recollection of events, and both boys were arrested on the spot.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Murder, 15 Year Old, 16 Year Old, Blake Dickey, Hunter Hill, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, Public Defender, Clint Hooker, Attorney, David Farnham, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Justin McKinney, Anna Franklin, GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center, Fannin Regional Hospital, Drugs, Dalton Manuel, Lakota Cloer, Special Agent, Jamie Abercrombie, Dustin Hamby, Captain, Justin Turner, Investigator, John Arp, Chief Deputy, Major Keith Bosen, Elrod Lane, Maple Grove Road, Chase Havard, Kevin Shamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel

District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee at a previous appearance with defendant Lakota Cloer (16) present.

When left alone with FCSO Chief Deputy, Major Keith Bosen, Hill is noted as claiming if given the chance, he would do it again.

Dickey also mentioned that 16 year old Lakota Cloer had driven them to the residence on Elrod Lane. This was the first mention of someone other than Dickey and Hill being involved, but more would come forward that would implicate Cloer as well.

Another individual came forward on night of Wednesday Dec. 5, 2018. Chase Havard voluntarily arrived at the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office and told staff that he had information regarding the McKinney murder.

Abercrombie said, “Havard provided a written statement.” The Special Agent also told about how Havard shed light onto the shooter of Franklin.
Havard was visiting a friend, Kevin Shamaty, who resided at the Cloer residence on Dec. 3. It was during this visit that Havard recalled Hill, Dickey, Cloer and another individual, 15 year old Levi Manuel, were discussing the plans to “pop and rob” McKinney.

According to the interview with Havard, Hill said that the four were “going to rob someone who had marijuana and pills” and asked Havard if he wanted in. Hill also told Havard that they were going to shoot everyone there and take whatever they have.

Havard declined and left with friend Shamaty to go to Walmart. Shamaty received a call later that night in the early morning hours of Dec. 4 from Cloer. Cloer stated that he was on Maple Grove Road and was in need of gas.

Havard and Shamaty drove to meet Cloer and gave him gas for his truck. Cloer was by himself and told Havard that he had dropped off Hill, Dickey and Manuel on Elrod Lane.

Having not heard from Manuel, Havard and Cloer went to look for the three. Shamaty parked at a church and waited for Havard to return.

As Havard walked down Elrod Lane, he says that he saw a light and heard “it’s me” in a voice that he recognized as Manuel.

Once back to Cloer’s truck the juveniles, along with Havard, met Shamaty and proceeded back to the Cloer residence.

“Mr. Hill had made statements that everyone was dead,” Abercrombie recalled Havard’s testimony. Havard also stated that Manuel made comments that he had unloaded a clip into the girl and that Hill, who was last out of the residence, stated that he had finished Franklin off and killed Majors.
The boys at this point believed that everyone in the home was deceased.

Havard stated that Manuel was the one who had the .25 caliber handgun, and admitted that he had advised Cloer to dispose of the weapon.

Cloer attempted to scratch off the serial numbers on the handgun before getting rid of the weapon. Shamaty then drove Havard and Cloer to the “cliffs at Nottely Lake” where Cloer threw the gun into the water.

Havard later took FCSO Investigator John Arp and GBI Special Agent Abercrombie to Nottely Lake and showed where the handgun had been thrown. With the help of divers the gun was recovered.

The shotgun was also recovered. Manuel who was residing at the Cloer residence at the time of the murder, gave investigators the gun which had been hidden between the mattresses in his bedroom.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Murder, 15 Year Old, 16 Year Old, Blake Dickey, Hunter Hill, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, Public Defender, Clint Hooker, Attorney, David Farnham, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Justin McKinney, Anna Franklin, GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center, Fannin Regional Hospital, Drugs, Dalton Manuel, Lakota Cloer, Special Agent, Jamie Abercrombie, Dustin Hamby, Captain, Justin Turner, Investigator, John Arp, Chief Deputy, Major Keith Bosen, Elrod Lane, Maple Grove Road, Chase Havard, Kevin Shamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel

Accused Levi Manuel (15) and Lakota Cloer (16) at previous hearing regarding McKinney murder case.

Manuel was later interviewed and told his side of the events that night. He claimed to not know Justin McKinney.

Stepping outside briefly after the three boys entered the home, Manuel said that he heard a gunshot, and rushed back inside. Once inside he saw Dickey standing over McKinney’s body.

At this point Manuel says that he aimed his gun above Anna Franklin and shot. Manuel admits to having shot the gun more than once. According to Abercrombie, Manuel claims “they got scared and ran out and forgot to take anything”.

Much like the Manuel and Havard account, Cloer paints Hill as the mastermind behind the crime, saying that Hill presented the entire idea and said that he knew someone they could “pop and rob”.

According to Abercrombie, Cloer also stated that “Mr. Dickey follows whatever Mr. Hill does”.

“Mr. Cloer knew that pop meant to kill and Mr. Hill made statements they would kill him (McKinney) and take what he had,” Abercrombie told of Cloer’s testimony and added that the boys had intended to steal marijuana and pills.

Cloer says that Hill never mentioned his brother, Logan Hill, never mentioned revenge and did not show any anger about McKinney.

According to Abercrombie, “Mr. Cloer stated that Mr.Hill stated that his motive was specifically to rob McKinney and kill him.”

Cloer admitted to his involvement saying that he did give Manuel the handgun that he later tried to alter and dispose of, and that he was also the driver that dropped the boys off.

After the testimony of GBI Special Agent Abercrombie was complete, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver made the ruling to move forward with the charges against Hill, Dickey, Cloer and Manuel: “The Court does find that probable cause has been established.”

The charges against the accused include Malice Murder, Felony Murder, Aggravated Assault, and Aggravated Battery.

A search warrant was obtained for the 135 Elrod Lane where the crime took place. Marijuana was the only illegal substance found at the home. The juveniles remain in custody awaiting trial.

 

You can read more about the McKinney murder case by following the links below:

Fatal Shooting in Fannin County

Details Emerge Surrounding Murder Case in Fannin County

Two More Arrested in McKinney Murder Case

McKinney Murder. What Happened That Night. FYN Exclusive Interview With Survivor Anna Franklin

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Additional charges filed in McKinney murder case

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Blue Ridge, Ga. – Additional charges will be faced in the murder of Justin McKinney and the assault of Anna Franklin.

Three of the 4 juvenile suspects charged in connection with the crimes that took place in the early morning hours of Dec. 4, 2018 appeared in Fannin County Superior Court on Monday, Jan. 7 for another first appearance hearing regarding new charges.

Fifteen year old Hunter Hill, 15 year old Dalton Manuel and 16 year old Lakota Cloer were all present with individual legal representation to hear the charges that they will now be facing.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Murder, 15 Year Old, Blake Dickey, Hunter Hill, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, Public Defender, Clint Hooker, Attorney, David Farnham, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Justin McKinney, Anna Franklin, GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center, Fannin Regional Hospital, Drugs, Dalton Manuel, Lakota Cloer, Karen Shelley

Accused LaKota Cloer and Dalton Manuel sit with legal representatives as new charges are read.

Fifteen year old Blake Dickey (AKA Blake Dye) was not present as his lawyer, Defense Attorney David Farnham, was out of state and unable to attend. Farnham waived his client’s right to this first appearance.

Originally Cloer’s attorney had filed a motion for the appearance to be a preliminary hearing as well as bond hearing. After discovery of the new charges, however, Cloer’s attorney opted to keep these motions filed but move the hearings to a later date.

Emotions were high in the courtroom as family members of the victims as well as the accused were present. Not present was alleged victim Anna Franklin.

“She (Franklin) was notified of the proceedings,” District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee said explaining the absence of Franklin to the court. “She is not present today. She did decline to appear.”

Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver told those attendance the reasoning for the day’s hearing, ” One of the purposes of a first appearance, of course, is to allow the defendants to know what they are being charged with.”

Weaver then proceeded to read the charges against the teens. In the first warrants served in Fannin County for the year of 2019 all four suspects will be facing the same charges “individually and as a party to the crime”. These charges include:

1. One count of malice murder
2. One count of felony murder
3. One count of aggravated assault
4. One count of aggravated battery

Felony murder entails a murder that is committed during the process of another felony. Having initially been charged with only malice murder, the added charge of felony murder came after charges concerning the aggravated assault and battery of Franklin were added.

Weaver gave detail into the additional charges stating that aggravated assault is “when said accused assaulted Anna Franklin with a deadly weapon” and that aggravated battery is due to the extent of harm Franklin had received “by rendering a member of her body, her left arm, useless.”

Franklin who was shot during the Dec. 4 altercation deflected the bullet by throwing up her arm in a defensive manner. The bullet entered and exited the arm before entering Franklin’s face and becoming lodged in the neck.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Murder, 15 Year Old, Blake Dickey, Hunter Hill, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, Public Defender, Clint Hooker, Attorney, David Farnham, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Justin McKinney, Anna Franklin, GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center, Fannin Regional Hospital, Drugs, Dalton Manuel, Lakota Cloer, Karen Shelley

Accused Hunter Hill listens to new charges in McKinney murder case.

In the state of Georgia malice murder means the intent to take a life without legal justification or mitigation. In this case the State does not need to prove a motive in order to obtain a conviction but instead will attempt to show that the person accused deliberately intended to take another person’s life.

Foreshadowing came to the future direction of the trial as Defense Attorney Karen Shelley, representing accused Hunter Hill, objected to media presence in the courtroom.

“I would ask the court to perhaps consider less media coverage because of the delicate nature,” Shelley presented her reason for objection, stating that the accused in this case are all juveniles and that media coverage could prematurely sway public opinion.

Ultimately, Sheley’s request that her client not be photographed or recorded was denied with Weaver stating that the hearing was “open to the public” and the media would not be providing information that was not readily available for anyone in attendance.

“There’s going to be a venue objection when we go to trial on this matter,” Shelley stated of Weaver’s ruling, “if the media is covering this case, which the community is already began to cover.”

The defendants were dismissed with Weaver stating of their rights that all accused “are presumed to be innocent until such time that they are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

A Grand Jury is expected to convene on Feb.18, 2019. The motion for a preliminary hearing and bond hearing could take place before this date.

 

Additional Articles Related to McKinney Murder Trial:

Details emerge surrounding murder case in Fannin County

Fatal Shooting in Fannin County

Two more arrested in McKinney murder case

McKinney murder, what happened that night? FYN Exclusive interview with survivor Anna Franklin

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

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