Category Archives: Murray

Ledford Denied Stay of Execution

In an 8-to-1 vote, the Supreme Court of Georgia has denied a stay of execution for J.W. Ledford, Jr., who is scheduled to be put to death tonight at 7:00 p.m. by lethal injection at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, GA.

Ledford, 45, was sentenced to death in Murray County for the murder of his 73-year-old neighbor, Dr. Harry Buchanan Johnston, Jr. On Jan. 31, 1992, Ledford, who was 20 at the time, went to his neighbor’s house and stabbed the physician to death, nearly decapitating him. After dragging Johnston’s body to a small building on the Johnston property and covering it up, Ledford returned to the home and forced his way in, holding a knife to Johnston’s wife, Antoinette. Threatening to kill her, Ledford pushed her throughout the house, demanding money and guns. After stealing some guns, he forced her onto the bed, tied her up, then left. She was able to free herself and call the sheriff’s office. Law enforcement officers found Johnston’s body near the small building. According to the medical examiner who performed the autopsy, following his injuries, Johnston lived about eight or nine minutes before bleeding to death.

In addition to denying Ledford’s motion for a stay of execution, the state Supreme Court has also denied his request to appeal today’s ruling by the Butts County Superior Court. Earlier today, that court denied his motion for a stay and rejected his attorneys’ claim that his age at the time of the crime should make him ineligible for the death penalty. Under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in Roper v. Simmons, it is unconstitutional to execute anyone who was under the age of 18 at the time of the crime. Ledford’s attorneys wanted the Georgia Supreme Court to raise the minimum age to 21, arguing that “neuroscience has shown that an adolescent brain does not fully mature until a person is in his mid-20s.” State and federal laws imposing minimum age requirements on such things as consumption of alcohol and obtaining a concealed carry handgun permit confirm that young adults aged 18, 19, and 20 are not as responsible as those over 21, the attorneys contended. They also argued that the death penalty largely has fallen into disuse nationally and internationally for people 18-to-21.

In today’s decision, all the Justices concurred except Justice Robert Benham, who dissented. (Judge Tilman E. Self, III of the Georgia Court of Appeals sat by designation in place of Justice Britt Grant, who was disqualified.)

Highland Rivers Health Governing Board Welcomes Two New Members

Murray County Chief Magistrate Judge L. Gale Buckner and Hiram Police Chief Todd A. Vande Zande were seated as members of the Highland Rivers Health governing board at its most recent meeting in February. Buckner and Vande Zande will serve three-year terms as representatives of Murray and Paulding counties, respectively.

“Mental illness and substance use disorders continue to have a substantial impact on both law enforcement agencies and the criminal justice system in our state,” said Judge Allen Wigington, chair of Highland Rivers’ governing board. “Chief Vande Zande and Judge Buckner are important partners in Highland Rivers’ ongoing efforts to address these issues in communities in northwest Georgia. We are very pleased to have them join our governing board.”

Highland Rivers Health is governed by a 14-member board that includes a representative from every county in the agency’s service area (with two representatives from both Floyd and Polk counties) who are appointed by each county’s board of commissioners. Members serve three-year terms, and terms are staggered to ensure continuity of governance.

The board includes several individuals who have family members with mental illness, addictive disease or developmental disabilities, and includes representatives from the judicial system, family services, private industry, law enforcement, local government and healthcare, among others.

“Highland Rivers Health is very fortunate to have governing board members that are true advocates – not only for our agency, but more important, for the individuals we serve,” said Highland Rivers CEO Melanie Dallas. “Judge Buckner and Chief Vande Zande are excellent additions to our board and we thank the commissioners of Murray and Paulding counties for appointing them.”

For more information about the Highland Rivers Health governing board, including a list of members, meeting schedule and meeting minutes, visit the Highland Rivers website board page at: http://highlandrivershealth.com/governing-board/.

Rep. Tom Graves Announces 2017 ‘County Connection’ Schedule for 14th District

Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA-14) today announced the 2017 schedule for the 14th Congressional District’s County Connection Program. The County Connection Program stations members of Rep. Graves’ staff in counties across the 14th District in order to provide a personal link to Congress for Georgians who may not be able to visit the permanent district offices in Dalton and Rome.

Congressman Tom Graves

“Assisting constituents who are having problems with a federal agency is an important part of my job,” said Rep. Graves. “Whether you’re a senior citizen having trouble accessing your Social Security benefits, a veteran denied care at the VA or someone having trouble with any other federal agency or program, my staff is here to help. My staff and I will do everything we can to ensure the federal government serves you as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

Note: The counties of Floyd and Whitfield do not have County Connection days because they are home to Rep. Graves’ two permanent congressional offices that have full-time staff and are open five days per week.

The full 2017 schedule is available below:

Catoosa County
County Administrative Building
800 Lafayette Street
Ringgold, GA 30736
Time: 10-12 p.m.
Dates:
February 7, 2017
March 14, 2017
May 9, 2017
June 13, 2017
October 10, 2017

Chattooga County
Chattooga County Library
Meeting Room
360 Farrar Dr.
Summerville, GA 30747
Time: 10-12 p.m.
Dates:
February 14, 2017
March 14, 2017
April 11, 2017
May 9, 2017
June 13, 2017
September 12, 2017
October 10, 2017

Dade County
Administrative Building
“Commissioners Meeting Room”
71 Case Avenue
Trenton, GA 30752
Time: 10-12 p.m.
Dates:
March 7, 2017
April 4, 2017
June 6, 2017
September 5, 2017
November 14, 2017

Gordon County (Location #1)
Georgia Northwestern Technical College – Gordon County Campus
Building 400, Room 4-103
1151 Highway 53 Spur, SW
Calhoun, GA 30701
Time: 1-3 p.m.
February 28, 2017
April 18, 2017
June 20, 2017
September 12, 2017
October 17, 2017

Gordon County (Location #2)
Fairmount City Hall
2265 Highway 411 SE
Fairmount, GA 30139
Time: 1-3 p.m.
March 21, 2017
May 16, 2017
October 3, 2017

Haralson County
Commissioners Office
Government Complex-Conference Room
155 Van Wert Street
Buchannan, GA 30113
Time: 2-4 p.m.
Dates:
February 21, 2017
March 21, 2017
April 18, 2017
May 23, 2017
June 20, 2017
October 24, 2017

Murray County
Courthouse Annex
121 North 4th Avenue
Chatsworth, GA 30705
Time: 1-3 p.m.
Dates:
February 7, 2017
March 14, 2017
May 9, 2017
June 13, 2017
October 10, 2017

Paulding County
Administrative Complex
Conference Room- 2nd floor
240 Constitution Blvd.
Dallas, GA 30132
Time: 10-12 p.m.
Dates:
February 21, 2017
March 21, 2017
April 18, 2017
May 23, 2017
June 20, 2017
October 24, 2017

Pickens County
Hinton Volunteer Fire Department
9273 Highway 53 West
Jasper, GA 30143
Time: 10-12 p.m.
Dates:
February 28, 2017
April 18, 2017
June 20, 2017
September 12, 2017
October 17, 2017

Polk County
Cedartown Municipal Complex
City Hall-City Council Room
201 East Avenue
Cedartown, GA 30125
Time: 2-4 p.m.
Dates:
February 14, 2017
March 14, 2017
April 11, 2017
May 9, 2017
June 13, 2017
September 12, 2017
October 10, 2017

Walker County
Courthouse Annex I
101 South Duke Street
Lafayette, GA
Time: 1-3 p.m.
Dates:
March 7, 2017
April 4, 2017
June 6, 2017
September 5, 2017
November 14, 2017