Eyewitness News at 6, 4-1-13

6:05 PM, Apr 1, 2013   |    comments
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Hello everyone.

I'm Frank Malloy.

And I'm Leah Johnson.

Bibb County coroner Leon Jones is on the scene of a possible drowning...after a man reportedly tried to swim across the Ocmulgee River..

 

Jones says it happened near Amerson Waterworks Park in North Macon.

He says he got the call just before 4 p.m.

Macon-Bibb county rescue divers are still looking for Aaron Austin Cross... Bibb County sheriff's office spokesman Sean Defoe says he's 24 years old... And from Warner Robins.

Witnesses say he jumped into the water...and swam from one side.

Defoe says...when he decided to swim back...with his friend...he went under...after saying the water was too cold.

We'll have more information for you on this story as soon as it becomes available... on our website.. 13wmaz dot com.

Some news this evening about who will lead the Bibb County School system... at least for another thirty days.

Katelyn Heck explains why a majority of board members voted to keep the acting superintendent right where she is.

The bibb county school board extended Susanne Griffin-Ziebart's term as acting superintendent until May first.

A six to two vote to keep her as head of the district came after board members met behind closed doors for over two hours.

Lester Miller and Jason Downey opposed... Miller says he supports Griffin-Ziebart... But does not think extending her position is the right decision.

He would not explain any further... And Downey refused to comment.

The board first named Griffin-Ziebart as acting superintendent after buying out Romain Dallemand's contract.

She agreed to step in for a month while the search began for an interim candidate.

But acting board president Sue Sipe says they need more time.

<with applications now going to the GSBA for the interim superintendent position, we're quite hopeful that we'll have some good folks to look at and interview and that she might be able to step back down into her deputy superintendent position before may first>

 

The application deadline for the interim superintendent closes April 12th.

Meanwhile... in the search for the permanent head of the district... Board members are filling out surveys this week... Pitching their thoughts on qualifications for the new leader.

But they aren't the only ones who get a say.

<there will be plenty of opportunities for community members, personnel here at the system to come forward and put some of their ideas on what we're looking for in our next superintendent.>

Community members will also get to fill out a survey... That looks similar to this one.

It asks questions like... what levels of experience are most important... classroom teacher?... Business leader?... Previous superintendent job?... and other options.

The Georgia School Board Association will use the responses to create a brochure like this one... To send out to potential candidates.

Frank?

Thank you, Katelyn. Sipe says she does not know when the surveys will be open to the community.

Former Houston County Probation officer Russell Holt... Accused of shooting and killing his girlfriend... Jessica Wolf was in court today.

 

Jennifer Moulliet was there and joins us now with more...

Jennifer...

Leah... Russell Holt's attorney... Franklin Hogue filed twelve motions today in Houston County Court.

The proceedings took longer than three hours.

Hogue says he filed for a change of venue because of the connection both Jessica Wolfe... And Russell Holt had to the courthouse.

Wolfe worked in the District Attorney's office and as a probation officer... Holt was in and out of the courthouse as a probation officer.

<my concern is that we'll get here and spend a day or two in jury selection and not be able to find twelve jurors who haven't formed an opinion about my client's guilt. >

 

Hogue gave an alternative... If the judge rules not to move venues... He suggested a different courthouse in the same town.

<if we're in this very building everyday it could have an influence a subtle subliminal influence on jurors >

Judge Tilman Self met with Hogue after the hearing to discuss logistics in relocating the trial in Houston County.

Nothing... In regard to a new location was decided.

Now, Hogue also asked the judge to throw out Holt's interrogation tapes.

He says his client never waived his right to a lawyer... And even asked for one... But his request went unanswered.. And he was interviewed by police without one.

Hogue says that was a violation of his fifth amendment right.

He says Holt was interviewed by police... Then the police walked out... As the tape continued to record... At that point Holt talked to himself... And a little while later police returned to continue questioning.

Judge Self agreed the interrogation tapes should be thrown out... But questioned the tapes of Holt talking to himself... He said technically at that moment he wasn't be interrogated... Hogue disagreed.

So what's the next step?

Judge Self asked Hogue to prove admitting the tapes of Holt talking to himself in the interrogation room is a violation of his fifth amendment right by Friday.

No decision was made today in court.

Thanks Jen.

Holt's trial is set for the end of this month.

Just a few hours ago, the State's highest court listened to arguments from the attorney for a Putnam County man... accused of killing another man during a feud over a dog.

David Brett was convicted of shooting Jose Garcia Castro to death in June 2011.

Prosecutors said the two men fought because Brett's dog died... while Garcia was caring for it.

Brett's attorney argued that the killing was self defense... because Garcia threatened him with a knife.

According to the Georgia supreme court.... Brett said his trial lawyer was not competent because he failed to object to testimony that he had a history of carrying a gun and threatening people... and failed to push the self-defense argument.

Spokeswoman Jane Hansen says the justices have until the end of December to rule, though a decision could come sooner.

There's now a quick way to get to Atlanta and Orlando.

The first flight from Silver Airlines touched down in Macon today at the Middle Georgia Regional Airport.

And Judy Le was there for the landing.

11 passengers flew the first Silver Airways flight into Macon from Atlanta.

<suzann nixon, orlando - It was really good. Short, smooth, nice, up and down. Quick.>

It's the first Macon...Atlanta...to Orlando service coming out of the Middle Georgia Regional Airport.

<Jose Toledo, regional manager - we were here early and had an on-time departure which is our commitment to our community and the rest of the city>

The Florida based airline will provide one round-trip flight to Atlanta each weekday and one weekend flight....that's six a week.

<tony bales, chattanooga- we were just online looking for the best deal from Atlanta to Orlando and this was the best we could find.>

The airline will also offer six round-trip flights a week to Orlando...at a reasonable price...

<nixon - $127. Yea, very cheap. (normally how much would it cost you?) About 220 so it was very affordable >

The flight from Atlanta takes 45 minutes. In Macon...four passengers boarded the plane to Orlando...making the total count 15.

<nixon - my mom had surgery and it was easter so I left the kids at home with my husband and took a little trip and visited her so i'm on my way back. Supposed to be at school today, i'm a teacher, so taking the day off>

The plane seats 31 passengers

<the aircraft is as comfortable as one of the regional jets that the competitors use>

Flight prices from Macon to Atlanta fluctuate...but are about 60-dollars round trip per person.

Judy Le 13wmaz eyewitness news

Steve Bennett ...the spokesman for Silver Airways...says the U.S. Department of Transportation will pay Silver an annual subsidy of almost 2 million dollars a year for the next two years because the flights classify as "essential air service." Many federal agencies affected by the across-the-board budget cuts seemed to shift into crisis mode when the sequester kicked in last month.

But not the Warner Robins Housing Authority.

Lorra Lynch Jones explains how they prepared for the 5-percent slash in funding.

Hilda Reyes takes pride in her home....

...A one-bedroom apartment in the Warner Robins Housing Authority's senior living community.

<I like the people here.>

That's a good thing says Housing Authority director Sheryl Frazier... because soon she's going to ask Reyes and her neighbors for help.

<we will be asking them to participate more with keeping the grounds clean, units.>

Frazier says the sequester shaved about 194-thousand from her annual budget... a painful squeeze... But one she prepared for when the possibility arose more than a year ago.

<its difficult to lose money, but when you have advanced notice that makes it easier for you to plan it, so it doesn't become a crisis.>

Frazier cut nearly half her staff... Slashed training and travel for herself and board members.. And found ways to reduce maintenance costs.

Plus... she says changes to housing authority rules a few years ago required most tenants to pay some rent. That money makes it possible to keep running.

<when you look at the past, where there was zero dollars to live in public housing, that is an increase.>

Frazier says she couldn't shoulder more losses..

<to say we can take anymore, no.>

But preparation kept her from panic... And so far most tenants....

... have been willing to pitch in.

In Warner Robins, Lorra Lynch Jones 13wmaz Eyewitness News.>

Frazier says they won't let the cuts stop their annual school supply giveaway... But they will have to depend on other community partners to help out.

Last year... the housing authority contributed 8-thousand dollars to the Back to School Bash that benefited 3-thousand students.

Frazier says this year... they can only chip-in 4-thousand.

It was so hard for drivers to see that the Florida Highway Patrol was forced to closed a nearly 80-mile stretch of Interstate 75 from Collier County to Broward County.

Officials have since reopened the interstate.

The smoke was coming from a huge brush fire in the nearby Big Cypress National Preserve.

As of Sunday afternoon, the fire had burned over 20-thousand acres and was only 40 percent contained.

The boys of summer are back.

Today is opening day .... the start of baseball season

But a day at the ball park can get pretty pricey ... especially if you include food and drinks.

And prices can vary widely.... depending on the park.

A new C-N-N Money survey looked at most of the 30-major league teams.

Mets fans at New York's Citi Field shell out the most for a regular hot dog-- six-dollars-and-25-cents a pop.

Cincinnati Reds' fans, though, at Great American Ball Park can get a dog for just a buck -- that's the cheapest in the survey.

Thirsty fans pay the most at Washington Nationals games, where a 16-ounce can of beer goes for eight-dollars.

For half that, beer drinkers can get a 12-ounce draft at Cleveland Indians games.

But the best deal for a beer?

That's A 14-ouncer for four-dollars at Arizona Diamondbacks' Chase Field.

 

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