Eyewitness News at 11, October 23, 2012

11:30 PM, Oct 23, 2012   |    comments
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   And I'm Frank Malloy.
   This is Eyewitness News at 11.
 Our top story tonight...
    Macon police make an arrest in the murder of a Macon woman.
     87-year-old Christine Patton Cook was found smothered in her home on General Lee Drive last Thursday..
"After an intense five day investigation, we've made an arrest in the Christine Cook murder investigation. We arrested 31 year old Aurie Bonner the third and we charged him in the murder of Ms. Cook."
   Bonner is being held at the Bibb County Jail.
   Police are not saying if Bonner knew the victim.
Macon Police will be meeting with the District Attorney's office tomorrow to discuss any additional charges.


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A 23 year-old Milledgeville woman faces charges of false statements and concealing a body.... after her baby was found buried in a backyard.. 
 Sheriff Bill Massee says...deputies were called to Lakemere Lane Northwest in Baldwin County. 
The homeowner reported finding the body of a newborn buried in his backyard. 
     Investigators say they determined that.. 
   Brittany Palmer gave birth to the infant and then buried it a few days before the body was found. 
      Massee says as far as he knows..... no one knew she was pregnant. 
  Massee says once they have the autopsy results... they'll look at all of the evidence to determine if other charges could be filed. 
  We spoke to a man who said he was Brittany Palmer's father. He declined comment.


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Georgia is reporting its first case of fungal meningitis related to tainted drugs used in steroid shots. 
   Health officials say a 66-year-old Macon woman developed symptoms after she received a steroid shot from the Forsyth Street Ambulatory Surgery Center.
  The medication has been recalled by a lab in Massachusetts and has led to 23 deaths across the country.
    Health officials are not releasing the woman's name. 
  But they say she had symptoms like headache and slight fever.... and a slightly high white blood cell count in her spinal fluid.
Even though the lab hasn't completed tests on her spinal fluid... David Harvey, Director of the North Central Health district says those symptoms were enough to take action. 
"The danger lies in being too relaxed about it and not doing the appropriate thing I think if it were me or one of my family I would be very much in favor of going ahead and starting the medicine until we see."
   14-thousand people in 17 states have received the injection that could be tainted with the fungus. 
   There are 308 confirmed cases..... including Georgia's only case here in Macon. 
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    Gangs are a problem that plague communities across the country, and Warner Robins is not immune.  Tom George tells us about a program that aims to help curb the negative effect of gangs in Houston County.
"You have to watch what colors people wear, you have to watch what color you wear .. If you wear too much red, or too much blue or black, they'll be like are you down for a gang ... Are you ganging?"
It's part of the reason the Houston County Gang Task Force will be hosting a community awareness forum Thursday to bring light to the issue of gangs ... It's been sponsored for the last 16 years by the Union Grove Baptist Church.
"We are trying to our best educate people here in Houston County the dos and the donts and what they can do to prevent gang activity in the homes, in our community .. As we as the county at large."
Stephens says when he began, there were at least 20 organized gangs in the county...and while that has declined...he says there is still gang activity.
It's something the District Attorney's office wants to address as well.


"Because of the work of law enforcement, and the schools we are really doing our best to squash it before it becomes a big problem. "
"Organizers say some of the biggest pressures kids face are when they're at school.  They say they hope the event will teach parents to have the tools they need to spot the warning signs.  >
"We may not see it in our household, but a lot of times our kids do things behind the scene or at school. Things that we never would even think our students could be ... Our child could be a "A" student in school, but yet still influenced by someone else."


But not Amber.  After graduating last year, she's gone on to college ... But has some advice for her fellow students...
"It's tough trying to stay afloat.  To stay from all the drama and all the craziness that goes on through high school , but you can do it because your future will always be bright .. You just have to keep working hard."


   The forum will be held at Northside High School's cafeteria Thursday at 6 p.m.  The forum rotates high schools in Houston County every year.


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Bibb County Superior Court Judge Howard Simms is home from his inpatient treatment for alcoholism. Simms talked with 13WMAZ's Kenny Burgamy today about the road check last month, rehab and his future on the bench.
"I hope that they'll be supportive. That's a decision they'll have to make. What I can say is if you want to fault me for my character flaws that's fine. I've obviously got a lot of them. I'm a flawed man. You can't fault me for what I've done on the bench. I've done, by all accounts, a good job as a judge, and I intend to continue to do that good job, and I intend to do it better than I've done it before."
     Judge Simms told us that he will not resign and plans to return to the bench soon. 
Last week... Bibb County Sheriff Jerry Modena said Simms will not face charges relating to the DUI.     


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  Another local race that's heating up is the one for Bibb County District Attorney...
  Challenger David Cooke continued his attacks on Bibb County's current DA Greg Winters at a news conference today.
  Cooke passed out a 3-page document headed... Greg Winters' Track Record.
It lists dozens of cases supposedly prosecuted by Winters... And shows for example.... that Winters allegedly dismissed 12 out of 14 murder cases .... and all eight rape cases.
"I have a proven record of prosecuting the toughest cases and winning over the last twelve years my opponent Greg Winters has demonstrated a record  of failing to prosecute individuals arrested of crime particularly on those kinds of crimes that affect our families the most."
     But Greg Winters says his opponent doesn't have his facts straight.
He said at least six murder cases on Cooke's list... Aren't murder cases at all.
He says two of them were dismissed because law enforcement arrested the wrong person... And two cases were dismissed because they didn't happen in the Macon Judicial Circuit. 
"It's clear to see, if you do any research, what the true facts are but he's not putting the facts out  he again is misleading the public and integrity matters. The district attorney  above anything else needs to have integrity not mislead people, not to win at all costs. I'm not willing to do that and I think that matters to me and to the citizens of the Macon Judicial Circuit."
Winters says as far as he knows... Cooke has not filed an open records request on any of his cases. But he says he's welcome to do so. 


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    From the time we are children... and throughout adulthood.. we're able to witness the unknown through the power of reading.
     Today a group of Springdale elementary students learned the importance of patience... while reading "Interrupting Chicken."
     I was on hand for the lesson in communication... Listening well and not interrupting others.
        Afterwards... Ms. Johnston's kindergarten class introduced one of their favorite books to me... "Pete the Cat."
        The students here say they know the importance of picking up a good book in their spare time.
     We want children all across Central Georgia to be able to enjoy books of their choice.
     So be sure to join us this Saturday... For our Make A Difference Day.
     We'll have a book drive and children's book giveaway at several locations.
     You can find out more at 13WMAZ dot com.



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