Eyewitness News at 11, 12-11-12

7:44 PM, Dec 11, 2012   |    comments
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Good evening and thanks for joining us...

I'm Leah Johnson.

Frank is working on our Help for the Holidays project.

He'll join us in just a few minutes.

First.. our top story tonight... Murder suspect Ashley Brown was granted a commitment hearing today after he turned himself into the Bibb County Law Enforcement Center.

Brown was wanted in connection with a shooting outside a southwest Macon Waffle House.

Police say that shooting left Christopher Crowder dead and injured two others.

According to Brown's attorney.... Veronica Brinson.. the 19-year old's grandmother urged him to turn himself in.

Brinson was not in court today when Brown waived his right to a commitment hearing.

But Magistrate Court Judge Cedric Leslie says... he will set a date for a hearing anyway.


Judy Le takes a closer look at the case..

Around 10:30 this morning...Brown walked into the back entrance of the Bibb County LEC.

Since Brown gave himself up to authorities...Sheriff's office spokesman Lt. Gregory Rachel...says expediting a first appearance is "an automatic process."

Here's a look at what happened at the Waffle Sunday morning..

I spoke to two witnesses....Geneva and Katrina Wortherly...who say it all started with an argument over 20-dollars worth of marijuana...then Brown pulled a gun...

<(katrina wortherly, witness) the guy who originally had the gun, he had pushed it into the guys face. After awhile it looked like he was just joking around with them and he started shaking their hands>

Katrina says Brown went toward the back of the diner...came back with a group of people...and a fight broke out.

The Wortherlys say that Crowder managed to get the gun from Brown...but during the struggle he dropped it..

Then another man picked it up and shot Crowder.

<(geneva wortherly, witness) we saw the same guy that shot him, stand over him and shot him in the face>

Brown was booked on charges of felony murder and two counts of aggravated assault. Macon police has yet to identify the second man...who the Wortherlys say actually pulled the trigger. I asked Macon police about the second suspect..but they would only say that it's an ongoing investigation.

This case has spurred a debate on our Facebook page.

If Brown didn't kill Crowder...why he is being charged with murder?

Leah, according to Georgia law... Since Brown is considered party to the crime...which means...aiding, assisting or conspiring with another person...he can be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

If you have any information about the shooting... Police want to hear from you.

You can call Macon Regional CrimeStoppers at 1-877-68-CRIME...again 1-877-68-CRIME.

Georgia economists have some good news for you today.

The economy in the state...and right here in Central Georgia are showing signs...of getting stronger.

that's according to state and local economic forecasts.

Macon Mayor Robert Reichert... Warner Robins Mayor Chuck Shaheen and other local leaders gathered to hear what Robert Sumichrast, Dean of the Terry College of Business at UGA...and Roger Tutterow... Professor of Economics at Mercer University...had to say about what's next on for our economy.

Housing prices are on the rise for Central Georgia.

During the recession... housing prices dropped by 18 percent in Macon.. .and by 13 percent in Warner Robins.

But now... Housing prices are up by 13 percent in Macon... and 17 percent in Warner Robins.

That's good news for homeowners looking to sell without taking a loss.

The Gross Domestic Product or G-D-P for our state will grow at a slightly higher rate than the nation's G-D-P.

Now in the Peach State our G-D-P will be up by 2 point 1 percent but the country's G-D-P will be about 1 point 8 percent.

So what's the bottom line?

Professor Roger Tutterow says three factors will decide whether our local economy continues on its upswing.

The Banking Crisis being truly over..

Housing Prices continuing to rise

And... Washington finding a rational response to the fiscal cliff.

Economists say while they project a positive economic outlook... there's still a chance for recession.

They rate the risk of falling back into a recession at about 30 percent...the primary reason behind this prediction is the fiscal cliff and the potential for war in the Middle East.

But that's lower than last year...when they gave a 45 percent chance of the economy falling into a recession.

Economists say there are two things local officials can do to keep our economy growing...

Investing in education and thinking more as a region instead of as individual cities and counties.

Tests of Wilkinson County's water supply came back clean today... That's after two days

Classes at all of Wilkinson's public schools had to be canceled as a result...even though staff came to work.

It was all a result of a broken water main that send city crews scrambling Sunday.

Superintendent Aaron Geter says the decision to close school was one he took seriously.

<if it's any inconveniences, again I apologize on behalf of the school district, but we're doing what's in the best interest of the children. >

School is back in session for Wilkinson County students tomorrow.

Results on those tests of the water supply...came in this afternoon.

Today, a Macon committee passed a new piece to the puzzle surrounding the I-75 Interchange Project.

People in Pleasant Hill told Katelyn Heck... It's another small step toward rebuilding their community.

Peter Givens remembers Pleasant Hill... Back when he says it was a lot more 'pleasant' than it is now.

<it was self-sufficient. It had mom and pop stores all over the place, dry cleaners, gas station, tennis courts. You name it, we had it.>

He says even though building I-75 connected Macon to the rest of the state... It tore apart the Pleasant Hill community.

<I-75 basically cut us not in half, but they cut us up pretty good.>

Five years ago... the Georgia Department of Transportation proposed a 10 million dollar plan to help restore the area.

<there's a mountain of red tape that everyone has to go through in terms of a project of this size, like right of way issues, easement issues>

DOT tried to minimize some of those problems by asking Macon for 23 pieces of property... In exchange for almost 250-thousand dollars.

Ownership would also allow them to use state funds for things like installing sound barriers along the highway, restoring residential areas, and improving streets.

Part of the package deal includes pieces of the Ocmulgee Trail near I-75 and I-16.

<it's our hope that this 250-thousand dollars will be used to connect the trail from Riverside Cemetery to Amerson River Park.>

The Department of Transportation proposed a 2018 start date for all of these projects.... But Givens says the results will be worth the wait.

Katelyn Heck 13WMAZ Eyewitness News

The property transfer will go before full council for a vote next Tuesday.

And with our phone bank open today... Today's 13WMAZ dot com web poll asks...

Does your community offer enough education resources?

So far... 55 percent of voters say no.. It does not.. While 45 percent say yes it does.

To vote now.. visit our website.. 13wmaz dot com and look for the question on the right side of the homepage.

Our education panelists...working hard to answer your calls... As Middle Georgia RESA partners with 13WMAZ to offer Help for the Holidays.

Find out how you can help your child do better in school.

The number is 752-1300...and you can call through the end of this broadcast.


Chris Eiler Gray Thursday


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