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Man beats injured wife with crutch



ATHENS — An Athens man has been arrested after he beat his amputee wife with her own crutch during a fight at their home Thursday, police said.

Robert Lee Austin, 38, was charged with aggravated assault, false imprisonment, battery, obstruction of a 911 call and criminal damage to property.

He was being held Friday without bond at the Clarke County jail.

Authorities say the 32-year-old victim, who recently lost her leg, was knocked unconscious and taken to Athens Regional Medical Center with injuries that were not life-threatening.

Authorities say Austin punched his wife several times in the face and struck her with a crutch, which broke during the attack.

Police were unsure what sparked the attack but say Austin was intoxicated at the time.

Boater indicted on homicide charges

GAINESVILLE — A boater involved in a deadly crash on Lake Lanier now faces homicide charges.

A Hall County grand jury indicted Paul J. Bennett, of Cumming, in the June 18 crash that killed 13-year-old Griffin Prince and his 9-year-old brother, Jake, both of Buford.

The charges include first-degree homicide by vessel, boating under the influence and refusing to render aid.

Authorities say Bennett’s fishing boat rammed a pontoon boat driven by the victims’ father, Michael Prince, and carrying four adults and nine children June 18.

Jake died at the scene, and Griffin’s body was found in the lake days later.

Lab IDs bodies of house fire victims

CANTON — Authorities have identified three bodies found in the rubble of a house fire last month in Cherokee County, north of Atlanta.

The medical examiner at the GBI Crime Lab confirmed the bodies found were of Ricky Norrell, his wife, Darlene, and their daughter, Lindsey, Cherokee County sheriff’s Lt. Jay Baker said Friday.

The wife and daughter had gunshot wounds to their head, and their deaths are listed as homicides. Baker said the father’s death is listed as a suicide.

Baker said the remains of a rifle were found near the body of the father, who examiners believe died from a gunshot wound to the head.

Investigators concluded that Ricky Norrell shot his wife and daughter before taking his own life.

Firefighters were called to the home in July after an explosion was heard in the neighborhood. The house was destroyed by the time firefighters arrived, and the three bodies were pulled from the ruins of the split-level home.

Former drug officer enters guilty pleas

ATLANTA — A former Gwinnett County police narcotics investigator pleaded guilty Friday to violating his oath of office and misdemeanor theft.

Vennie Rodrick Harden was sentenced to five years of probation with the first six months under house arrest.

Harden and the former special investigations section supervisor, Lt. David Butler, were indicted in 2010 for misusing money earmarked for undercover investigations. Harden was accused of forging Butler’s name to authorize payments to a confidential informant.

A judge granted Harden first offender status, meaning his record will be cleared after he completes his sentence.

Butler pleaded guilty in March and was sentenced to one year under house arrest, and five years on probation.


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