Armed robbery suspects sentenced up to 70 years

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BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – After a week-long trial, two of the suspects found guilty in the Labor Day 2017 armed robbery of an AT&T store on Scenic Drive, have been sentenced.

Melisse Marmon and Rashad Marmon were found guilty of crimes including two counts of armed robbery, two counts of aggravated assault with intent to rob, two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of kidnapping, two counts of false imprisonment, two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, one count of possession of tools for the commission of a crime, and one count of theft by taking.

Melisse Marmon, the driver of the car in which the three suspects fled, was found guilty of additional charges, including two counts of fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer and one count of reckless driving.

The police pursuit of the suspects reached speeds of over 100 mph and led law enforcement in a chase across two counties.

On Thursday, May 17, Chief Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver sentenced both Melisse Marmon and Rashad Marmon. The suspects were given sentences for each individual charge with some sentences being merged and others to be served consecutively.

Rashad Marmon was sentenced to a total of 60 years with the first 55 years “to be served in confinement.” The remaining five years may be served on probation.

Melisse Marmon received a total of 70 years with the first 65 years “to be served in confinement.” The remaining five years may be served on probation.

According to witnesses in court, Melisse Marmon expressed that she would be seeking an appeal.

The third suspect apprehended after the robbery, Hammond Marmon, is expected to go to trial at a later date.

[Featured image: Suspects are, from left to right: Melisse Marmon, Hammond Marmon, and Rashad Marmon.]

 

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Natalie Kissel

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Head of Judicial Watchdog Agency Resigns

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By Elaine Owen, Editor of Fannin Sentinel 

Facing at least one formal ethics complaint, the judge who chairs the state Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) resigned from the agency Friday.

Brenda Weaver, chief Superior Court judge of the Appalachian Circuit and chairwoman of the JQC since April, announced her resignation in an email to her six fellow commission members late Friday. Weaver gave no reason for her resignation but said, “The work of this commission is extremely important and nothing and no one should distract from its duties and responsibilities.”

Weaver said she intends to use the time she had spent working on judicial ethics matters “to expand and improve services” in her circuit’s accountability courts and veterans court.

An ethics complaint had been filed against Weaver last month by the Society of Professional Journalists in connection with a civil subpoena and a public records request drawn up to obtain bank records associated with Weaver’s court operating account, which is funded by taxpayer dollars from the three counties in her judicial circuit.

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Superior Court Judge Weaver Drops charges, Publisher Mark Thomason will not stand trial

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District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee received a request from Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver to drop the charges against Publisher Mark Thomason and Attorney Russell Stookey.  Sosebee will not prosecute and filed a nolle pros this morning, July 7th in the Pickens County Court system and awaits a judge’s signature.  Judge Weaver cites reasons in letter below:

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Judge Brenda Weaver says Accountability Courts is ‘the right thing to do’

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Article written by John Mullinix, FYN Contributor:

Last Thursday evening, the Fannin County Tea Party Patriots were treated to a presentation about the Accountability Court system by Superior Court Chief Judge Brenda Weaver. In the Appalachian Court District that includes the Felony Drug Court, the Family Drug Court, the Mental Health Court and the Veterans Court. These courts take individuals that have been convicted of felonies and who are otherwise headed for prison and puts them into an intense and highly supervised program towards rehabilitation.

The Felony Drug Court was started by Judge Weaver in 2002. In her words she was “doing Accountability Court when Accountability Court wasn’t cool.” With the help of then Representative David Ralston, Justice Amanda Mercier, who was working as a lawyer for David Ralston at the time, and a defense attorney, the Felony Drug Court was born in the Appalachian Superior Court District. This program was the first of its kind in Georgia and one of the first in the nation.

The selection process that a felon has to go through is rigorous and not all applicants will be accepted into the program. For the ones that are accepted, they agree to a minimum of 24 months of supervision and they must attain certain educational goals to graduate. The participants must attend a minimum of three classes per week, attend at least two AA or NA meetings and have full time jobs. The have three random drug tests per week and they are subject to random in-home inspections by court personnel. On top of all of this, they have to meet with the Judge twice a month for a progress review. These courts are very highly regimented to give the participant very little time to get into trouble.

The Drug Court discovered that a high percentage of Veterans were not being reached in the program and failing out. One day a judge told a Vet on his staff to go talk to one of the Veteran participants. And that made all the difference. The Veterans Court utilizes mentor Vets to work with the Veterans in the program. They have found that Vets will communicate with other Vets better than those who have not been in our military.

The Family Drug Court is very similar in its operation and is designed to facilitate the treatment and rehabilitation of drug or alcohol addicted parents with children in the home. These cases are usually started by a Department of Family and Children Services (DFACS) investigation when the children have been or are in danger of being removed from the home due to unresolved substance abuse issues. Like the Felony Drug Court, the selection process to get into the diversion program is rigorous and the educational and drug testing requirements are the same. These participants must go to parenting classes, NA or AA and also must meet with the Judge every two weeks for a progress review.

The Mental Health Court works much the same as Family Drug and Felony Drug courts work. High emphasis is placed on the patient taking their medications as required. The full time job requirement is on a case by case basis as some of the mentally ill are unable to work.

Judge Weaver then posed the question, “Why do we do this? Why not just let them stay in jail or prison?” Her answer was, “Because it is the right thing to do.”

The program is changing criminals into productive, tax-paying citizens. The program reduces the number of drug addicted people in our communities and has the added benefit of being cheaper. It costs about $21,000 per year to house inmates in the state prison system in Georgia. In the program participants provide their own housing, their own food and their own medical care. Even though there is much more supervision per participant, it does not cost that much per person and the program is shorter, lasting two to three years per participant.

The recidivism rate is much lower with the Accountability Court program when compared with the state prison system. With an 80 percent success rate, only two out of every ten graduates of the program will re-offend. The rest will live normal, drug-free lives.

According to the Georgia Center for Opportunity, two of three prison parolees will be arrested again within three years.

This is a state run program that is rescuing young lives and putting productive citizens back into society. It is lowering the overall number of drug and alcohol abusers in the area and it is cheaper than the alternative, the prison system.

This writer is proud to live in an area with such a forward thinking Superior Court system led by Judge Brenda Weaver.

 

Aska Rapids Case Gets Reprieve

Community, Featured Stories

The parties of the Aska Rapids Case won a reprieve this week, as Judge Brenda Weaver gave the parties involved another thirty days to negotiate and determine a disputed property line.

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