Bizarre trial ends with 55 year sentence for armed robber

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Blue Ridge, Ga. – In what might be remembered as one of the most bizarre trials to be held in Fannin County in 2019, a jury has found 22 year old Hamond Mormon guilty and Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver handed down a 55 year sentence in the case.

Mormon, along with his mother Melisse Mormon (aka Melisse Marmon) and cousin Rashad Morman, were accused in the Labor Day 2017 armed robbery of the AT&T store located off of Scenic Drive.

Fannin County, Georgia, Armed Robbery, AT&T, Guilty, Trial, Melisse Mormon, Melisse, Rashad Morman, Hamond Mormon, Sovereign Citizen, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Sgt. Jacob Pless, Lt. Todd Pack, Blue Ridge City Police, Capt. Rob Staurt,  Appalachian Judicial Circuit, Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, High Speed Chase, 515, Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities

Hamond Mormon was found guilty on 14 counts and sentenced to 55 years.

According to law enforcement statements, as well as surveillance footage from the store, Rashad and Hamond entered the store, both armed, and forced employees to hand over cash, personal belongings, and cell phones.

Melisse waited outside for the two to return and drove the getaway vehicle. The resulting chase between the trio and law enforcement involved speeds over 100 mph and only ended when Fannin County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jacob Pless disabled the suspects’ vehicle through use of a PIT (Pursuit Intervention Technique) maneuver.

A jury made up of 6 men and 6 women, with a female alternate, listened the state’s argument presented by Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee and watched the antics of Defendant Hamond Mormon unfold for several days.

Mormon made his intentions known to the court that he would be defending himself and opted out of representation by a public defender.

Mormon also exercised his right to declare Sovereign Citizenship, a move that has repeatedly been struck down by higher courts and considered an invalid claim.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sovereign Citizens “believe that even though they physically reside in this country, they are separate or “sovereign” from the United States. As a result, they believe they don’t have to answer to any government authority, including courts, taxing entities, motor vehicle departments, or law enforcement”.

One of papers filed by Mormon to Judge Weaver and District Attorney Sosebee states: “As a true flesh and blood American and sovereign citizen, I refuse to participate in any colorable law schemes or practices”.

The first several days of the trial were anything but normal for members of the jury to witness and court staff to accommodate. Mormon, representing himself, would often refuse to acknowledge Judge Weaver as she gave explanations of court proceedings to ensure that he was aware everything that was going on.

Mormon also refused to wear clothes to court and instead sat in the courtroom cloaked in a blanket. Despite his seemingly odd behavior, an extensive mental evaluation was performed by the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities and found Mormon to be of sound mind and competent to stand trial.

On the day of closing arguments, Mormon refused to come to the courtroom all together, and Judge Weaver was putting her foot down as well stating that if Mormon did show he would be required to wear clothing.

Sosebee presented her closing argument to the jury and reminded everyone: “The State of Georgia is not required to prove the guilt of the accused beyond all doubt or to a mathematical certainty. It has to be a reasonable doubt.” Sosebee added to this, “We have in fact carried that burden.”

With Judge Weaver reminding the jury that Mormon’s behavior in the courtroom is not indicative of guilt and that the jury should only consider the evidence presented in the case, the 12 member (plus an alternate) was dismissed for deliberations.

Deliberation only took 21 minutes before the jury informed the court that they had reached a verdict in the case. The foreman stood and read a verdict of guilty on all counts. Weaver polled each jury member individually to ensure that each member had in fact reached this unanimous decision.

“This has been a little bit of an unusual trial,” Judge Weaver spoke directly to the jury before their dismissal, “I appreciate your patience with us.”

After the jury left the courtroom, Fannin County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Todd Pack was once again tasked with inquiring as to whether Mormon would like to enter the courtroom. Mormon had previously declined Pack’s offer for closing arguments and then again for the reading of the verdict.

Declining for a third time to enter the courtroom for sentencing, according to Pack, Mormon stated, “You are sentencing an artificial being. My name is not Hamond Dontel Mormon. I am not who they say that I am.”

Before handing down the sentence Weaver addressed her feelings on the case involving Mormon, “I guess of the three defendants I have a little more sympathy for him because of his background…than I have for the others.”

Weaver went on to explain that after having read Mormon’s evaluation by the state and given the details of his past that she felt “he never really had a chance”.

Mormon received a total of 55 years to serve 50 of those years in prison. A breakdown of the sentencing is as follows:

  • Count 1 – Armed Robbery – 20 years to serve
  • Count 2 – Armed Robbery – 20 years to serve consecutive to Count 1
  • Count 3 – Aggravated Assault – Merge w/ count 1
  • Count 4 – Aggravated Assault – Merge w/ count 1
  • Count 5 – Aggravated Assault – Merge w/ count 1
  • Count 6 – Aggravated Assault – Merge w/ count 1
  • Count 7 – Kidnapping – 20 years to run concurrent with Count 1
  • Count 8 – Kidnapping – 20 years to run concurrent with Count 1
  • Count 9 – False Imprisonment – 10 years concurrent with Count 1
  • Count 10 – False Imprisonment – 10 years concurrent with Count 1
  • Count 11 – Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Felony – 5 years to serve consecutive to Count 2
  • Count 12 – Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Felony – 5 years to serve consecutive to Count 11
  • Count 13 – Possession of Tools for the Commission of a Crime – 5 years probation to run consecutive to Count 12
  • Count 14 – Theft by Taking – Merge with Count 1

 

 

 

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Author

Natalie Kissel

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Armed robbery suspects sentenced up to 70 years

News

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.]

 

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

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Priest announces candidacy for Superior Court

Election, Election 2018, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Mary Elizabeth Priest announced her recent qualification for and intent to run for the Superior Court bench in the May 2018 non-partisan General Election. Ellijay has been her home for 30 years.

The Superior Courts handle civil matters, including family and domestic litigation, criminal cases, ranging from traffic violations to felonies, as well as transfers and appeals from Magistrate Court and Probate Court. In our Appalachian Circuit, Superior Court judges are responsible for dockets and jury trials in Fannin, Gilmer, and Pickens counties.

Mary Beth is a graduate of Gilmer High School and North Georgia College and State University. Before
attending law school, she served as a case manager and investigator for the Pickens County Department
of Family and Children Services. She later received her Doctorate of Jurisprudence from Georgia State
University. She began her legal career as an associate attorney at Downey & Cleveland, in Marietta, in
2006. In 2010, she joined the law firm Clark & Clark, in Ellijay, where she practiced complex civil litigation.

Priest said, “It has been a great honor to serve on the bench for the past two years. One of my goals has
been to build a bridge between our community and our court system. I am proud of the progress we have
made in that regard. Being a judge is an enormous responsibility that I take very seriously. I ask the
people of the Appalachian Circuit to trust me with their vote. If they do, I will continue to work hard for
our community with the same commitment to efficiency, impartiality, fairness, and responsibility that I
have had since my first day on the bench.”

Judge Priest was appointed by Governor Nathan Deal in 2016 to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Roger Bradley. In addition to being involved with and frequently speaking at local civil organizations, she initiated and helped coach the Gilmer High School Mock Trial team’s inaugural season this year. As an adopted child born into foster care, she has also done outreach for adoption agencies as a strong advocate for foster and adopted children.

Her husband, Jeremy, owns and operates a scrap metal recycling company as well as a plumbing company, and they live in Ellijay with their two children. Her father, Mike Williams, and mother, Lorie Stanley Williams, originally of Stanley Creek in Fannin County, also live in Ellijay.

JOURNALISTIC Malpractice

Citizens Speak, Letters to Editor
Dear Mr. Harbison,
I am offended, shocked, and stunned – but not surprised – at the continuing lack of objectivity and fairness of the News Observer.  I have been a subscriber for more than a decade and a reader for multiple decades.  You are objective and fair with SPORTS reporting, but your paper clearly has a bias –  if not agenda –  in your POLITICAL reporting.  Your front page article in the October 4th edition regarding my wife Jane’s candidacy for City Council treated each allegation and argument of Ms. Barbie Gerald and Mr. Syfan as gospel truth, and made my wife look evasive and untruthful.  Everyone who knows her, knows full well that Jane DOES NOT LIE OR EXAGGERATE, nor did she when signing her qualification affidavit UNDER OATH stating that she was a resident of the City of Blue Ridge qualified to run for a seat on the City Council.  That, sir, is TRUE, and the Superior Court will so rule.
What you didn’t report was the bombshell evidence at the “hearing” that Mr. Syfan represented Angie Arp personally.  Yes, to deprive Jane of her constitutional right to run for public office, Mr. Syfan ginned up a challenge to Jane’s residency and held a so-called “hearing.”   What was clear as a bell (and your reporter knows it because he was there) was that Ms. Gerald was unqualified to be an Election Superintendent thereby allowing her to be exactly what they wanted her to be – a mere pawn and shill for Mr. Syfan and his block of City Council members who have had a choke hold on the City Council for the past 4-8 years.  The resulting dysfunction (to put it charitably) of that controlled council has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer funds from the City and put them into the pockets of none other than Mr. Syfan.  Indeed, he profits from mayhem, confusion, and dissent!  And this election chicanery is just the latest example because it, too, will end up costing the City as it continues to pay for the bad and self-interested advice of a hopelessly conflicted  counselor – Mr. Syfan.
Also newsworthy, but ignored by your paper, was that the delayed occupancy of our home at Sycamore Crossing was DUE TO “THE CITY” which forced us to stop work on our apartment on the second floor over Sycamore Crossing thereby delaying our expected April 2016 move-in.  By the way, Sycamore Crossing is now recognized as the “meeting place” and landmark property in the City of Blue Ridge – and all because of a person who Mr. Syfan and Angie Arp have thrown off the ballot.  Not qualified to run? Garbage!
Look also at page A7 “CANDIDATES SPEAK—”  where you carry photos of eight (8) candidates that chose to attend, participate, speak and answer questions at the only public community forum for the city council election.  Notably, HOWEVER, there were nine (9) candidates there – the ninth being JANE WHALEY who garnered loud applause for her candor, honesty and commitment to Blue Ridge – while her opponent didn’t even do the only thing he has done for the City in his eight (8) years on the council – show up.  Where was your fairness and objectivity on page 7.  Jane will be ordered back onto the ballot, and she will run and win a seat on the City Council.  That is when you will start to truly see a Better Blue Ridge!
Sincerely,
Bill Whaley M.D.

Fannin Commissioners question Appalachian Pretrial Probation Program

News

The Fannin County Board of Commissioners held a special called meeting on February 7th 2017.  First on the agenda and taking up most of the time of the entire meeting was discussion regarding the Appalachian Pretrial Probation Program.

The Fannin Commission Chair Stan Helton and Fannin County post commissioners Earl Johnson and Larry Joe Sosebee had questions regarding the Appalachian Pretrial Probation Program,  hereinafter referred to as the APPP,

and were told by long time county attorney, Lynn Doss, “It is my understanding it is a private entity, it is not a unit of county or state government, and is therefore a private company.”

Further discussion continued and Commission Chair Helton said, “I signed this yesterday and then realized it was a contract and then thought it needs to be presented to you two gentlemen.”

Apparently the document had already received signatures from Fannin County Magistrate Judge Brian Jones and Fannin County Probate Judge Scott Kiker.  It appeared a lack of understanding by the Board of Commissioners and County Attorney Lynn Doss of what exactly the APPP is,  led to a decision for it to be tabled, which was eventually withdrawn.    Discussion continued and then questions were directed to Fannin County Probate Judge Scott Kiker who stepped to the podium to address the Commissioners and answer the questions.

Helton directed his comments to Judge Kiker saying, “This is the first time I’ve seen this, I hate to put anyone on the spot but we are discussing the agreement with the Appalachian Pretrial Program, its the APPP and this contract was just presented to me yesterday and yourself and Judge Jones had already approved this, is this an annual contract?”

Judge Kiker responded to the board saying, “Since I took office, as far as I can recall this has been the probation company we have used.  To be honest with you I have never questioned it, I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing.”  Kiker added, “Unless something is presented to me that shows an advantage to doing something else, I can say this, I’ve not had any issues with the APPP, they perform well.”  “I’m certainly open, If someone were to come to me, and say, I don’t know John Doe Probation Service were to come to me and put a contract in front of me and say we can do this cheaper, better or whatever I would be remiss as an Elected Official not to look at that.”

Fannin County Post Commissioner Earl Johnson, “I just have no idea what it is.”

When a question arose about the APPP being a corporation or a non-profit in reference to a statement made by County Attorney Doss, Ms. Doss responded with, “Ok I used corporation as a euphemism for private entity because I don’t think its a branch of county government but I can find that out.”

It was obviously clear the Board of Commissioners were not familiar with the APPP and the longtime Fannin County attorney Lynn Doss nor the Fannin County Probate Judge, Scott Kiker had a clear understanding of it.

FYN received the following information about the program from Appalachian Judicial Circuit Chief Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver,

“APPP is not a private probation company but is designated a county government program monitored by the Georgia Department of Community Supervision.  The program is a certified law enforcement program and the probation officers are certified police officers.
I have included a list of the misdemeanor probation programs in Georgia which clearly shows that APPP is designated a “government” probation program.”
Judge Weaver also forwarded a copy of the correspondence she mailed to each commissioner in August, 2016 which gave a brief history of the program.   See below:
It is disappointing more inquiry wasn’t completed prior to the meeting or county officials were not more knowledgeable which could have provided a better understanding for the commissioners and for citizens.  See full meeting video below:

 

 

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

Featured, Featured Stories, News

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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Fannin Focus Publisher Mark Thomason Arrested along with Thomason’s Attorney Stookey – Transported to Pickens Jail

Featured, Featured Stories, News

Fannin Focus Publisher Mark Thomason and his attorney Russell Stookey were arrested late Friday afternoon and transported to the Pickens County Jail.  Earlier in the day a Pickens County Grand Jury indicted Thomason on 1 Count of Identity Fraud, 1 count of Attempt to Commit Identity Fraud, and 1 count of Making a False Statement.  Thomason’s Attorney, Russell Stookey of Hiawassee Georgia was also indicted for 1 count of Identity Fraud and 1 count of Attempt to Commit Identity Fraud.  Thomason’s booking report is below, Stookey’s booking report will be published when available.

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See related link:  Fannin Focus Publisher Mark Thomason Indicted along with Thomason’s Attorney Russell Stookey

Superior Court Judge Honorable Judge Roger Bradley Enjoys Retirement Celebration

Community, Featured, Featured Stories

A celebration was held January 26th 2016 in honor of Superior Court Judge Roger Bradley’s retirement.  A large crowd of colleagues, friends, and family attended the gathering to honor Judge Bradley and wish him well on the next chapter of his life.    Chief Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver spoke of Judge Bradley’s career and presented him with a plaque.  Attorney George Weaver spoke at the gathering and reflected on the memories with the crowd.

Judge Bradley has shared with us about his plans to spend time with his family and do some traveling.  FYN would like to wish him well.

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Judge Roger Bradley announces retirement plans

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