Originally created 06/25/02

Across Georgia



Panel awards benefits to sheriff-elect's wife

ATLANTA -A state committee that awards benefits for police officers killed in the line of duty changed positions Monday and decided to give $75,000 to the widow of slain Sheriff-elect Derwin Brown.

The panel voted 6-1 to change its earlier position that Phyllis Brown was not entitled to benefits because her husband had not yet taken office.

Gov. Roy Barnes had asked the panel to reconsider.

Jailer kills colleague by mistake, police say

ATLANTA -A Fulton County jailer who was acting out scenarios he had learned in training to become a sheriff's deputy accidentally killed another jailer, authorities said.

A single gunshot Sunday night killed Mychiska Patterson, 23, a jailer who had worked for the sheriff's department for two years.

Jailer Dean Ricketts, 28, was charged with involuntary manslaughter. As a jailer, Mr. Ricketts was not authorized to carry a firearm, and the gun was not sheriff's department property, Fulton County sheriff's Maj. Clarence Huber said.

Train to Carter home will start in autumn

AMERICUS -A state-operated excursion train to former President Carter's childhood home will begin runs through southwest Georgia this fall.

SAM Shortline - which stands for Savannah-Americus-Montgomery, the line's historic route - will travel from Cordele to Plains.

Critics say the project amounts to rolling pork.

"How many people are going to drive to Americus to ride a train to Plains?" said state House Minority Leader Lynn Westmoreland, R-Sharpsburg.

High court turns down Hispanic man's appeal

ATLANTA -The Georgia Supreme Court denied an appeal from a Hispanic man who argued that he was denied his rights when he was arrested on charges of driving under the influence because he could not communicate with police.

Omar Rodriguez was arrested Dec. 2, 2000, in DeKalb County. Attorney Norman Cuadra had argued that Mr. Rodriguez, who does not speak English, was unable to understand the implied consent form, which explains the procedure and his rights regarding blood-alcohol testing. Mr. Cuadra said an interpreter should have been offered, noting that the law requires interpreters for hearing-impaired people in the same situation.

But the court, in an opinion written by Presiding Justice Leah Ward Sears, rejected that argument in its ruling Monday, noting that "non-English-speaking persons such as Rodriguez have ... the potential to understand such a warning."