Mother charged in prom party death

AUBURN, Ga. - The mother of a high school student who threw an after-prom party where an 18-year-old Winder-Barrow High School senior died faces criminal charges in connection with the death, authorities said.

 

Barbara Ann Michael, 39, of Auburn, west of Athens, is charged with nine counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, two counts of maintaining a disorderly house and one count of party to a crime of furnishing alcohol to a minor in connection with the fatal after-prom party and at least one other party, Barrow County sheriff's Maj. Murray Kogod said.

The senior, Leland "Lee" Lemar Martin, of Winder, was found dead April 29 after an after-prom party at Ms. Michael's Quail Trail Road house. Officials have said Ms. Michael's daughter threw the party while her mother was out of town and many of the people who attended were drinking.

In addition, two teenagers identified by Maj. Kogod as high school seniors - Anthony "A.J." Perry, 19, of Auburn, and Jerry Donta Sanders, 19, of Statham - also have been charged.

Mr. Sanders faces a single count of simple battery for kicking Mr. Martin when he was on the ground, while Mr. Perry faces a single reckless conduct charge for not calling 911 after finding Mr. Martin in bad shape, according to Maj. Kogod.

"He failed to call 911 or render aid to Leland Martin when he should have," Maj. Kogod said. "He should have called 911 or got some kind of medical treatment for Mr. Martin."

No one has been charged specifically with Mr. Martin's death, and Maj. Kogod would not say whether someone might face a homicide-related charge. However, Maj. Kogod said investigators plan to bring additional charges, either against those already charged, other people or both.

During the party, Mr. Martin and others videotaped the festivities and Mr. Martin fought with at least two people. After fighting with one student who hasn't been charged, Mr. Sanders jumped in and began to fight with Mr. Martin, investigators said.

"Mr. Sanders jumped in when he didn't need to," Maj. Kogod said. "It was not of a defensive posture; it was of an offensive posture."

Although an autopsy report and a toxicology report still are pending, investigators have said Mr. Martin did not die as a result of any injuries he suffered during a fight at the party.

According to a police report detailing some of the events at the party, Mr. Martin bled after the fight and eventually laid down on the couch, went to sleep and didn't wake up.

On Friday, Maj. Kogod said some of the students who were at the party were reluctant to give investigators information, fearing they might be charged. But after some reassurances, students became more helpful.

"We're not looking to go after everybody," Maj. Kogod said. "We merely want to know those that are criminally liable."

Investigators still are trying to find out who supplied the alcohol and if any adults were at the gathering, which started after the school's prom April 28 at the Classic Center in Athens. The event ended at 11:30 p.m., and Mr. Martin was found at 12:15 p.m. the following day.

As many as 40 guests attended the party, and most were under the legal drinking age, according to Maj. Kogod, who said they drank beer and hard liquor.

As the party raged on, Mr. Martin started to become antagonistic, and another student hit him in self-defense, according a police incident report.