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U.S. Supreme Court rejects appeals: William Sallie to be executed


The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a stay of execution for Georgia death row inmate William Sallie, clearing the way for him to become the ninth inmate Georgia puts to death this year.

Sallie was scheduled to die by lethal injection this evening at 7, but Georgia does not act until all courts have weighed in, which usually puts the actual time of death well into the night and sometimes into the early morning hours of the next day.

This afternoon, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously denied Sallie’s request for a stay of execution. His lawyers then petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court, even though the high court had previously turned him down.

As he waited, Sallie ate all of what he’d requested for his final meal — pizza — and visited with six family members, four friends, three members of the clergy and four paralegals.

Sallie, 50, has repeatedly failed to get any court to consider his claim of juror bias, and on Monday the State Board of Pardons and Paroles also rejected that argument and refused to grant a stay of execution.

Sallie was convicted in Bacon County of murdering his father-in-law John Moore in 1990, shooting and wounding his mother-in-law Linda Moore, and kidnapping his estranged wife and her sister.

Sallie broke into his in-laws’ home — where his wife, Robin, and their 2-year-old son, Ryan, were sleeping — after he lost a custody battle and his wife filed for divorce.

In court filings and a clemency petition, Sallie’s lawyers wrote that the domestic turmoil in William and Robin Sallie’s lives was much like that lived by a juror who denied ever being embroiled in a volatile marriage, a custody dispute or domestic violence.

When the woman was questioned during jury selection for the Sallie murder trial, she said her marriages — four of them — had ended amicably.

Sallie’s lawyers said that was false, contending in their clemency petition that the juror fought with soon-to-be ex-husbands over child custody and support payments and lived with domestic abuse.

That juror also told an investigator for Sallie’s lawyers that she pushed six fellow jurors to change their votes from life in prison to death, making the jury’s decision unanimous.

In numerous filings, Sallie’s lawyers have tried to get a hearing on the issue of juror bias, which has not been argued in any court because Sallie missed a critical deadline to bring that appeal.

Sallie’s attorney Jack Martin said that deadline came at a time when Sallie did not have a lawyer, as Georgia law does not mandate that the state pay for appellate attorneys for death row inmates.

Martin said former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher told the Parole Board about Georgia’s history of not providing lawyers for condemned inmates.

Fletcher wrote an op-ed in The New York Times this week — “Georgia’s dangerous rush to execution” — in which he talked about problems inherent in Georgia’s application of the death penalty.

“A door that would have been open to Mr. Sallie in almost any other state was closed to him in Georgia,” Fletcher wrote of the state’s refusal to provide people with legal counsel. “If it were open, he would be able to present the

facts about his trial, which appear to show serious problems with juror bias.”

Once Sallie is executed, Georgia will almost double its record for the number of executions carried out in a year since the death penalty was reinstated here in 1973. Georgia executed five people last year and also in 1987.

Georgia also leads the nation in executions this year.

Secret Santa drops $1K gold coin in red kettle for what might be second year in a row

The Salvation Army Corps of Springfield, Ohio, got a kick start to its holiday fundraising when they found a gold coin worth $1,000 in one of its red kettles.

It’s the second time in two years that a South African gold coin wrapped in a $100 bill has been dropped in a red kettle at the Kroger store on Bechtle Avenue, Salvation Army Resource Developer Ryan Ray said.

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Around the same time last year, a gold coin valued at $1,200 was dropped in the bucket, Ray said.

The Salvation Army never figured out who dropped the coin, he said.

The Red Kettle Campaign kicked off on Nov. 4 and runs through Christmas Eve.

More than 800 Clark County families signed up for Christmas assistance through the Springfield Salvation Army office this year, Ray said.

Money raised in the kettles goes toward community programming for the Salvation Army throughout the year. The organization says that for every dollar donated to the Salvation Army in Clark County, 83 cents goes back to the community.

Police: Child taken along for ride as 4 people rob Central Florida home

Four thieves burglarized a Central Florida home while a child sat in the back seat of a getaway car, police said.

The burglary happened during the middle of the day Tuesday in the Orlando suburb of Ocoee.

Thanks to astute neighbors, the thieves only made it about three miles down the road, police said.

Officers said they caught the culprits and found the stolen items and the child, who is younger than 10.

According to a charging affidavit, neighbors called police after they watched the car with the four people inside pull up to the home.

The affidavit also said one woman got out and banged on the door, and when no one answered, the two men inside the car got out and, "ran up to the door and kicked it open.”

Police said the culprits ran out of the home with a briefcase, got in the car and drove away.

Neighbors said it is important to look out for each other.

"I think it's great I think we need to do that," neighbor Alice Nice said.

The child was placed in the custody of relatives.

Detectives said they are working on charging Kameron Allen, Tyshira Davis, Kiara Jackson and Joshua Joseph with child endangerment.

The four were arrested and charged with burglary and remain in the Orange County Jail.   

No injuries were reported.

Man,mistaken for deer, shot, killed by brother on hunting trip

An Atlanta man was shot and killed Saturday by his brother while on a hunting trip with family members in South Carolina, an official said.

The brother of Brian Gregory Pickle, 30, mistook him for a small doe or a coyote, Union County Sheriff David Taylor said Tuesday afternoon.

Brian Pickle and Scott Leonard Pickle had the same Roswell Road address, Taylor said. Their father, who lives in Arlington Heights, Ill., also was in the hunting party.

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The incident happened shortly before 6 p.m., not long before nightfall on land leased for hunting, Taylor said. Because darkness was near, Pickle’s brother said he felt limited in time to take a shot, never thinking it could’ve been a person, Taylor said.

“We see these types of accidents all too frequently,” Taylor said.

The autopsy showed that the victim died of a gunshot wound to the head, coroner William Holcombe said.

“It was a family hunting outing turned horribly tragic,” the coroner said.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is investigating the incident.

Virginia Hepner, Woodruff Arts Center CEO, stepping down

Virginia Hepner, CEO and president of the Woodruff Arts Center, and a leader who guided the arts organization through a successful $110 million “transformation” campaign, announced Friday she will be leaving the Woodruff next spring.

That day, May 31, 2017, will mark five years since Hepner took the reigns at the Woodruff, an organization that includes the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Alliance Theatre and the High Museum of Art.


The summer of 2012, when Hepner arrived, was a contentious time, marked by bitter labor disputes with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and a Woodruff management thunderstruck to discover that an employee had embezzled $1 million.

Hepner came on board after a 25-year career in the banking industry, and began straightening those numbers out. She also presided over the appointment of new leadership at the arts center, as Rand Suffolk became the new director of the High Museum and Jennifer Barlament the new executive director of the symphony.

Under Hepner’s guidance the Woodruff negotiated contracts with the symphony that ended a lockout, and promised an endowment campaign to stop the orchestra from shrinking.

That $25 million endowment drive was part of the $100 million Transformation Campaign, an ambitious bid to completely renovate the Alliance Theatre, rebuild the symphony, underwrite educational and outreach programs at the High and create a steady flow of dividends that would take pressure off operating expenses.

The completion of that campaign — with $10 million to spare — was announced early this month.

“Virginia Hepner has done a tremendous job of leading the Arts Center over the last four-plus years,” said Doug Hertz, chairman of the Governing Board of the Woodruff Arts Center, in a statement. “The arts center is in a much stronger position today as a result of her commitment to our art, her willingness to take on some of the difficult issues the arts center has been facing and her incredible energy.”

With a budget close to $100 million a year, the Woodruff Arts Center is the largest arts organization in the Southeast and one of the three largest in the country. In an interview Friday Hepner said she has no plans beyond working from now until May 31 to get the center’s ducks in a row. After that she’s looking forward to a vacation in an unnamed part of the world.

“I can’t imagine I’ll ever retire,” said the 59-year-old, who imagines she’ll be part of the arts in one way or another for the rest of her life. “At the end of the day I’m a business person who believes in arts and culture.”

 Virginia Hepner, Woodruff Arts Center CEO, stepping down

College student becomes youngest elected to Florida House of Representatives

Amber Mariano cut her four classes on Tuesday, but the third-year political science major at the University of Central Florida more than likely won’t be penalized by her professors. In fact, she might get extra credit.

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Not only was she studying the political process, she was winning at it.

Mariano, a Republican candidate who turned 21 on Oct. 18, became the youngest person ever elected to the Florida House of Representatives, winning District 36 by 719 votes over incumbent Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy. Before Mariano, the youngest person elected to the Florida House was Adam Putnam, who was 22 when he won in 1996 and is now Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture.

“It was honestly the best night of my life,” Mariano told WFTS.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that the margin was 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent out of 66,939 ballots cast in Pasco County, located north of the Tampa Bay area — according to final but unofficial results.

Mariano the youngest of any gender since 1996, when Adam Putnam, then 22, won his first statehouse race.

According to her website, Mariano gained experience on the issues of education and health care during her time working for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in Washington, D.C. During the 2016 Florida legislative session, she worked for state representatives Rene “Coach P” Plasencia and Scott Plakon. She received endorsements from Rubio and Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Mariano, who plans to attend law school after graduation, is no stranger to politics. Her father, Jack Mariano, won re-election to a fourth term as a Pasco County commissioner.

“We didn’t expect this opportunity to present itself so quickly in her life,” Jack Mariano told WFTS. “But I will tell you at 6 years old she said she wanted to be the first woman president.

“So it’s been in her blood from way back when.”

“He says I’m leapfrogging him. He just wanted me to follow my dream,” Amber Mariano told WFTS.  “And this is my dream.” 

Crews battle vehicle fire on I-85 in Gwinnett

Fire units from Gwinnett County and the Georgia Forestry Commission were fighting a vehicle fire on I-85 southbound Saturday, officials said.

The fire, north of Hamilton Mill Road, involved a car carrier and the vehicles on the trailer, Gwinnett fire spokesman Tommy Rutledge said. It also sparked several woods and grass fires in the median and the wooded area of the interstate.

No injuries were reported, Rutledge said. It’s too soon into into the incident to know the cause of the fire.

Traffic was reported delayed in the area.

Fire units from Gwinnett County and the Georgia Forestry Commission were fighting a vehicle fire on I-85 southbound Saturday, officials said.

The fire, north of Hamilton Mill Road, involved a car carrier and the vehicles on the trailer, Gwinnett fire spokesman Tommy Rutledge said. It also sparked several woods and grass fires in the median and the wooded area of the interstate.

No injuries were reported, Rutledge said. It’s too soon into into the incident to know the cause of the fire.

Traffic was reported delayed in the area.


The Power of Pink

Jennifer Hernandez has been through a lot since late June, when she was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. She’s now halfway through eight rounds of chemotherapy. All of her hair has fallen out. She’s talked through the possibilities with her husband and children, ages 6 and 8. But on Oct. 1, the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Hernandez strutted onto the Power of Pink runway at Baylor Scott and White Lakeway in a patterned headscarf and struck a pose.

Hernandez is one of 14 survivors of breast cancer who walked the runway during the Power of Pink event presented by Austin Cancer Centers and benefitting Susan G. Komen Austin.

Susan G. Komen Austin Executive Director Suzanne Stone, formerly the executive director of the Lake Travis Education Foundation, said Susan G. Komen Austin raised $11 million since 1985 to go back into the community and another $5 million for global research. This year, 40,000 women will die of breast cancer, she said.

The women featured in the fashion show were treated during the day to massages, hair and makeup. They also got to pick out their own outfits for the show with the fashion advice of sponsor boutiques. As each survivor walked the runway, Cassie LaMere with Lexus of Lakeway told the audience about the women’s battles with cancer, their families and the personal inspirations that kept them going.

For Hernandez, who works at Lakeway Baylor Scott and White as a nurse, her work prepared her mentally, she said.

“I don’t feel exempt – bad things happen to good people all the time,” Hernandez said. “I knew I had to be feeling good to get through this, get it together. I don’t know, I had a calmness come over me. Things happened the way they did for a reason … I have a ton of support and a lot of family and friends, and a Facebook support group. People I don’t know send me stuff every week: lotion for dry skin, tons of coloring books and hats — lots of stuff from people that have been through it and know what you’ll need.”

The event featured booths, food trucks, a play place for kids and shopping from sponsor boutiques. After the fashion show, Baylor Scott and White Lakeway CEO Philippe Bochaton helped unveil a sculpture of a guitar painted with the breast cancer pink ribbon, flowers and a sword. After the unveiling, LaMere announced it was Hernandez’s birthday, and a cake was brought onstage where the models were gathered.

“My main concern is my family and my kids. I have an 8-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son, and they’re at a good age where you can tell them things,” Hernandez said. “I’ve been honest from the very beginning when getting the biopsy. I told them ‘It’s cancer,’ and they asked ‘Are you going to die,’ and I said ‘I hope not but this is what we’re going to go through.’ They shaved my head and they say ‘You look so weird,’ and we just laugh about it. It made it seem like it’s just one more step … we joke about it, because I do look a little weird. I think having a sense of humor helped, and they handled it beautifully.”

Alec Baldwin to play Donald Trump on season opener of Saturday Night Live

When Saturday Night Live returns for its new season this coming weekend, Alec Baldwin is going to take over the role of Donald Trump, with CNNMoney reporting that he'll be playing Trump at least until the election. 

SNL released a brief promo video yesterday (September 28th) showing Baldwin in his Trump get-up, going up against Hillary Clinton, who will continue to be played by show regular Kate McKinnon. Trump has previously been played by Darrell Hammond, who's also the SNL announcer, and by Taran Killam, who's no longer with the show. Baldwin has hosted SNL a record 16 times, and has also done occasional cameos. (CNNMoney)

(app users can see video here)

Woman sues after washing machine explodes in her face

Washing clothes seems like a simple enough task, but for one mother it could’ve injured her and her child.

Melissa Thaxton was in her Paulding County home when her top-loading Samsung washing machine exploded in her face, Channel 2 Action News reported.

“It was the loudest sound,” she said. “It sounded like a bomb went off in my ear. There were wires, nuts (and) the actual top was laying on the floor.”

Thaxton’s 4-year-old son was near the explosion.

“I just remember covering my head and leaning over towards my son,” she said, “and just screaming this scream that I didn’t even know I could scream.”

Now the mother is suing Samsung, Channel 2 reported. According to her lawyer, a support rod became unfastened during the spin cycle.

Samsung said the affected top-loading washing machines were made between March 2011 and April 2016, according to a news release. According to a report from ABC News, 21 people have reported having Samsung washing machine explosions since last year.

In response, Samsung said it is working with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to address safety issues. The company also recommends using washers on lower speed cycles.

“In rare cases, affected units may experience abnormal vibrations that could pose a risk of personal injury or property damage when washing bedding, bulky or water-resistant items,” the company said in a release.

Samsung said many of its customers have completed loads without any problems since 2011.

Customers are urged to visit or call 1-844-483-3881 if they have questions.

Thaxton told Channel 2 she hopes the lawsuit raises concerns for other parents.

“If that would have hit my child, it would have been catastrophic,” she said. “That’s why I’m speaking out.”

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