Eyewitness News at 6, October 24, 2012

5:52 PM, Oct 24, 2012   |    comments
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 The man accused of murdering a Macon woman in her home is dragged into court.
    Hello everyone.  Thank you for joining us. 
    I'm Frank Malloy.
     And I'm Leah Johnson.
     This is Eyewitness News at Six.
      Macon police arrested Aurie Bonner the third last night for the murder of 87-year-old Christine Cook. 
       Cook was found dead last week in her home on General Lee Road in Macon.
 An autopsy said.... Cook was smothered. 
     Austin Lewis was in the courtroom today and has more. 
     Frank, Leah, Bonner was the first inmate who appeared today before Magistrate Judge Barbara Harris.
     I was waiting for him to come in...along with inmates...and other reporters....and here's what we saw.
Now that's a group of deputies tripping over Bonner as they carry him in. 
All eyes were on him...as he fought deputies bringing him to the front... to stand before Judge Harris. 
     It took a minute or two for deputies to get him on his feet...
    But once they did...Judge Harris tried to calm him down, asking him to listen to her...before she continued with the first court appearance.
   She explained that he faces a felony malice murder charge. 
     After that...Bonner nodded to show that show he understood the charge against him. Judge Harris said she could not grant bond...and Bonner waived his right to a commitment hearing...to explain the charge further.
After he signed the form to waive that hearing...three deputies escorted him out of the courtroom...Bonner made several comments to deputies as they left. We didn't hear what he said but the tone wasn't friendly. 

     A Houston County jury is still considering their verdict for murder suspect Jermontae Moss.
Moss is charged with killing 43-year old Jose Marin who owned a mexican food store in Warner Robins... during an attempted robbery.
This week... a witness testified that Moss was the shooter.
But during closing arguments today... Moss' attorney said the sweat pants he was wearing during his arrest don't match the witness's description of the killer.
Rodney Davis, defense attorney: "This is what mr. Moss was wearing when he was arrested they're black and you see these stripes, they're clear, nobody mentioned anything about stripes."
    The prosecution says there's no evidence pointing to anyone else as Marin's killer... but Moss.

  Now, an update to story we've been following since last week ... The current owner of Progressive Christian Academy is back in Florida facing violation of probation.
     Florida Correction officials tell us Hawkins, also known as Christine Perera, returned to that state yesterday after her travel privileges were revoked . 
     The Department of Correction says she did not respond truthfully to her probation officer when asked what she was doing in Georgia ...  
     Hawkins was convicted on check fraud and grant theft charges before coming to Macon to work at the school.
     School parents have complained that the school is apparently being run by a person with a criminal record...and a state agency is investigating the academy...but won't say why.
   When we went to the school, we were told to speak with the head of the Florida-based company who purchased the school ... He has not returned our phone calls.

       Macon is one of 11 cities across the country in the Code for America Program.
For almost a year, young people from the web industry have worked on technology tools to make it easier for residents to interact with their government. 
They showed Candace Adorka some of the fruits of their labor.
Remember a year ago, when city and county officials asked voters to approve the penny sales tax? They promised to be open with how they're spending that money. Here's the secret weapon to help fulfill that promise. 
"You can absolutely see exactly where all the money is going and hopefully is makes residents feel better that the government is doing what they said they would do with the money."
Jessica Lord is a 2012 Code For America Fellow assigned to Macon. She developed a web site where anyone can see SPLOST projects, broken up by categories-- or down to specific streets. 
"You can compare the budgets that the projects are getting and you can look at the funding schedule of when the funds actually will be disbursed."
She's putting the final touches on the site-- transferring the data to the city so employees can maintain it. 
"So I've been working with code enforcement."
Nick Doiron is another fellow on Team Macon-- he gathered data and modified Homestatus-dot-org, so anyone can type in a Macon street, and see what's on Code enforcement's radar. He says it solves two problems 
"People who work in different neighborhoods wanted to know what the government was doing in their neighborhood and they wanted to know how to connect with the city, and also the city in their own technology didn't have a map or other types of information retrieval to show this to their citizens."
He presented the site to some residents of the Lynmore estates neighborhood, and leaders from Habitat for Humanity. 
"It allows us to actually be more focused more targeted and see greater results and I think when that happens and people feel more empowered, that also results in more engages citizens."
Lord says she wouldn't have traded working in Macon...it for anything,
"There are more cities like Macon than there are Chicagos or Philadelphias. And so we felt like the things we did in Macon would be more meaningful to more cities across the country."
Candace Adorka 13 WMAZ Eyewitness News. 
 Code for America's work in Macon was funded entirely by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation...at no cost to taxpayers.


      Today, a group of Lake Joy Elementary students learned the benefits of getting lost in a good book.
     And...also why literacy is important to us.
     Our Lorra Lynch Jones was there to read "The Giving Tree" and "Interrupting Chicken."
     "The Giving Tree" taught them a lesson on how to help others unselfishly.
     The fourth and fifth graders also had the chance to ask questions and learn about how we operate here in the studio.
     They say they enjoyed the books... and realize how important it is to keep a good variety on hand.
" Sometimes you just like to read picture books because you normally read chapter books in fifth grade and you don't really get to read those alot."
     This Saturday... we'll have all kinds of books for children like Lauren for our Make A Difference Day.
     You can make a difference until Friday by dropping off books for our book drive at locations across central georgia.
     You can check 13WMAZ dot com for one close to you.
      Last week, Democratic U.S. Representative John Barrow talked to us about the issues in his quest for re-election to Georgia's 12th District congressional seat.
     This week.... his Republican opponent, Lee Anderson of Grovetown, talked about the issues he considers important in the race. We interviewed the two men separately...because Anderson declined to take part in a debate with Barrow.
     Anderson said the most important issues tinclude balancing the federal budget, same sex marriage, abortion, health care, gun rights and Barrow's campaign ads.
     Anderson, who's a farmer, calls himself an every day guy who's accessible and can relate to the problems facing people in tough economic times.
     Georgia's 12th congressional district covers 19-counties in east Georgia, including Laurens, Wheeler and Treutlen counties.
     Barrow is seeking his fifth, two-year term in the House of Representatives. 
    Anderson currently serves as a Georgia state representative. In Columbia County, he previously served on the county Commission and the board of education.

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