Man's minor crimes added up over years

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In his short adult life, Justin Elmore was in and out of court more often than some lawyers.

Though police never charged Mr. Elmore with a violent crime, the 23-year-old fatally shot by deputies last week appeared to be constantly on their radar.

In addition to three felony drug cases, Mr. Elmore had 12 different misdemeanor cases.

He spent time in jail, but never for very long. That's not a surprise to people familiar with the criminal justice system. Only so many people can fit in overcrowded jails and prisons, and judges prefer to use those spots for criminals who commit violent and major crimes, attorneys said.

Mr. Elmore's offenses mostly dealt with drug possession and traffic violations.

Veteran criminal defense attorney Pete Theodocion said Mr. Elmore's number of arrests might shock some people, but it is probably more reflective of his socioeconomic circumstances.

People in poor neighborhoods have more contact with police, he said. If someone has a proclivity to act out, he is going to be in court a lot, Mr. Theodocion said.

The reality is a college student who uses marijuana constantly is less likely to be arrested than a user in public housing.

"It is what it is," he said.

Still, a dozen arrests is an extreme number, said Augusta attorney Scott Connell, who has practiced law as a prosecutor and a defense attorney.

Once a person is known to the police, he can expect more encounters, and if he is hanging out in areas where police know drugs are bought and sold, the chances of being stopped and questioned increase even more, Mr. Connell said.

He agrees with Mr. Theodocion that the police presence is greater in poor neighborhoods. It's also where police are needed more, Mr. Connell said.

But the perceptions residents there have of police are often negative. People in middle- and upper-class areas see a police presence as a comfort, not intimidation, Mr. Connell said.

Richmond County State Court Judge David Watkins sees a lot of repeat misdemeanor offenders. Augusta isn't a very big city, and once a person is on the radar of law enforcement, he tends to remain there, the judge said.

Mr. Elmore owed more than $5,000 in fines on his felony drug convictions and thousands more from his misdemeanor cases. The probation department filed violation warrants numerous times because, for one reason, Mr. Elmore wasn't paying on his fines.

Judge Watkins said he and other judges are willing to convert fines into community service or waive fines if defendants follow the probation rules.

"It's not locked in that someone is set up to fail," he said. "But sometimes it's almost that the system is trying harder to help them than they are willing to help themselves."

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

ELMORE'S YEARS OF TROUBLE WITH THE LAW

Justin L. Elmore's criminal history from age 17 to 23:


NOV. 26, 2002: Arrest on misdemeanor obstruction charge for running from officer


DEC. 3, 2002: Charged with giving a false name


JUNE 25, 2003: Charged with obstruction for running from drug agent


OCT. 22, 2003: Charged with possession of marijuana, obstruction and giving a false name after struggling with a deputy while trying to hide a marijuana cigarette in his mouth


DEC. 29, 2003: Charged with theft by receiving, speeding, driving without a license and disorderly conduct after being stopped for speeding; theft charge dismissed in 2004


SEPT. 3, 2004: Charged with speeding and driving without a license


JAN. 27, 2005: Charged with being a minor in possession of alcohol and violating open container law; he was passenger in car stopped for speeding


DEC. 19, 2005: Charged with possession of cocaine with intent to resell and theft by receiving a stolen 9 mm handgun


APRIL 27, 2006: Traffic stop for improper windshield tint and driving without a license


JUNE 30, 2006: Arrested for driving without a valid license, misdemeanor possession of marijuana and possession of Ecstasy


AUG. 4, 2006: Arrested for possession of cocaine; released on bond


SEPT. 5, 2006: Bench warrant issued for his arrest after he doesn't appear for arraignment


OCT. 4, 2006: Pleads guilty to three pending felony cases. Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet sentences him to five years' probation under the First Offender Act and sets fine and surcharges at $5,550


JUNE 28, 2007: Probation officer files revocation petition because Mr. Elmore had not reported since January or paid on his fines and fees


AUG. 8, 2007: Arrested for speeding and driving without a license


AUG. 15, 2007: Judge signs order to release Mr. Elmore from jail; payment on his fine is made and he is returned to probation


SEPT. 11, 2007: Charged with driving without a license


OCT. 19, 2007: Probation officer files petition asking judge to revoke the First Offender sentence because of arrest on traffic offenses and because he didn't report to probation, do community service or stay employed


NOV. 11, 2007: Judge returns him to probation, increasing the supervision to "intensive" probation


JAN. 29: Charged with seat belt violation and driving without a license


MARCH 26: Driving movement violation, failure to stop after an accident, driving without insurance and without a driver's license


APRIL 21: Traffic ticket because of speedometer not working


AUG. 24: Arrested on charges of possession of cocaine with intent to resell and misdemeanor offenses of possession of marijuana and obstruction


AUG. 27: Judge signs order releasing him from jail; probation officer concurs.


OCT. 29: Judge Overstreet revokes First Offender status. No hearing date is set to determine whether the probation sentence should be changed to a prison sentence.

Source: Richmond County state and superior court records

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Searching 4 the facts
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Searching 4 the facts 12/21/08 - 04:12 am
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Matthew Chapter 7 1 1 2 "Stop

Matthew
Chapter 7
1
1 2 "Stop judging, that you may not be judged.
2
For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.
3
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?
4
How can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove that splinter from your eye,' while the wooden beam is in your eye?
5
You hypocrite, 3 remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother's eye.

As It Is
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As It Is 12/21/08 - 04:52 am
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This is what the enabling

This is what the enabling justice system in America gets us now. Had he been in jail where he bleonged, he would be alive, the community would be better off and this incident would have never occurred. His over 25 interactions with law enforcement never required an officer to use his or her weapon until now. This alone should show that officers deal with situations which are presented to them not that they go out looking for a situation to use their weapons or deadly force. Mr. Elmore placed himself in this situation and from his past record along with probation, etc. probably knew he was going to be in for some long jail time finally. In reality, had he simply followed the instructions of the officers, he would be alive and most likely eligible for bail in a very short time which in itself is ridiculous. And, as for CAN WE ALL JUST GET ALONG, there are many other verses from the bible that would contradict the point you are trying to make. There would be no need to jude others if their were no crime and everyone followed the life of Jesus and the 10 commandments but unfortunately that simply isn't the case. We must judge our peers based on their actions and the evidence.

dickworth1
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dickworth1 12/21/08 - 06:00 am
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If you're not wanting to
Unpublished

If you're not wanting to judge the criminal, why would you judge the police?

sctex
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sctex 12/21/08 - 06:36 am
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It's all whitey's fault.

It's all whitey's fault.

politicallyNcorrect1
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politicallyNcorrect1 12/21/08 - 06:39 am
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I started reading his

I started reading his charges & reading & reading & reading...I'm thinking my God when is this going to end. Seriously though, trouble was in the making it was only a matter of time before he hit the big time & received a prison term.

politicallyNcorrect1
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politicallyNcorrect1 12/21/08 - 06:44 am
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Can we all....Your up kinda

Can we all....Your up kinda early Church doesn't start for hours. You better get some sleep so you don't fall asleep during the sermon.

kat30815
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kat30815 12/21/08 - 06:47 am
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so the guy who got shot was

so the guy who got shot was already well on his way to prison. hmmm, be killed by police / or by a really angry inmate in for a life sentence for murder.
i don't think Elmore would have been a winner either way.

politicallyNcorrect1
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politicallyNcorrect1 12/21/08 - 06:53 am
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As it is...Yes that's what I

As it is...Yes that's what I was telling everyone the other day. I'm sure he knew his time was drawing near. When someone quits showing up for court & doesn't pay their fines..they know that the next time or the time after the Judge will deny bail & hold you till court because he knows your not going to show up in court or pay your fines. Elmore knew this was coming, thats why he made a lethal decision!

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 12/21/08 - 07:03 am
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can we all, you're taking the

can we all, you're taking the quote out of context. Try "render unto Cesar ..." . Nowhere does the bible say to ignore the law breakers and that's what you're implying. We all judge people, and are judged, every day, every time we meet or converse. We all have rules of society to obey if we wish to be a part of the society. Elmore was living on government subsidy and felt the rules of society didn't apply to him. His long-term misbehavior and poor decision making led to his death.

usnvet
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usnvet 12/21/08 - 08:26 am
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Just another instance of the

Just another instance of the press trying to justify the shooting for the cops. This man has a family mourning him and the Chronicle prints this crappe. How about you print the disciplinary records of the murdering officers!!

justus4
101
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justus4 12/21/08 - 08:37 am
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Nothing new here...law
Unpublished

Nothing new here...law enforcement kills a minority, then the all-white media get his contacts with police and it's published, so "they" were justified in killing him. (thats how white people think about minorities, especially African-American males) Their actions prove that fact. This article should be titled, Why "we" Had to Kill Him, because it demonstrates a pattern happening throughout the country. It also demonstrates a wicked approach thru misinformation, distortion of facts, and public official corruption, to decrease the population of black men. The internal report will state "A good kill" then it's on to the next one, meanwhile, the suffering of this man's family goes on in silence. The killing of a dog have generated more positive news press. Again, the article further demonstrate comtempt for (some)human life and a biased view of public service information.

RBI
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RBI 12/21/08 - 08:53 am
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You can't tell me that the

You can't tell me that the so-called "resident experts" couldn't see a pattern developing with this young man. I mean hell, 25 previous arrest? True, the system is there to help individuals that need it, but there's also a limit to that too. If an individual seeks help from the system, then give it to them. If not, and they stray down the wrong path again and again and again, then use the system's judicial powers to enforce the law.

nofrills
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nofrills 12/21/08 - 08:56 am
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Again ignorance raises’ its

Again ignorance raises’ its ugly head. If we keep defending Elmore for his bad action how can we expect other minorities to stand with us when it really counts? Now before you call me an Uncle Tom let me just say all human life counts. Justin had adults in his life that did nothing to change the course of decisions he choose. This is really where the true blame and anger should be targeted. Where was his mother or father? If my son was arrested for having drugs I would of thrown the law books away and had a quick understanding of who and what he could do even if it meant I had to LAY HANDS ON HIM. Where was his concerned family member then? Only now do you see them pointing their fingers at RCSO. So keep making excuses and let others see how uneducated we appear. I for one won’t stand for it no matter what the color of your skin I only hope my true friends wont judge me by Elmore’s actions

getalife
4
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getalife 12/21/08 - 08:56 am
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As long as this community

As long as this community supports these thugs and drug dealers, crime will always exist in these areas. The children in these areas seeing the mob violence and rage ensures that their generations will do the same.

godbeeaug
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godbeeaug 12/21/08 - 08:57 am
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(kat30815 )interesting point

(kat30815 )interesting point suicide by cop was never an issue during this whole incident, not saying that was the case but this probably would have been the last draw,as for( cant we all just get along)this was Gods will.

kai@reasontostand.org
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kai@reasontostand.org 12/21/08 - 08:59 am
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Thanks justus for your racist

Thanks justus for your racist slant, all this truth was making me woozy thinking that maybe, just maybe, the cops were actually justified in using lethal force to defend themselves against this man. Or would you, in light of present facts, like to continue to argue for his being a "moral and upright citizen"? This man's family suffered long before he was ever shot, it began the day he decided to be a lawless thug.

usnvet
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usnvet 12/21/08 - 09:00 am
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The death penalty for petty

The death penalty for petty crimes is what this amounts to. If the cops are going to use drugs as a reason to kill people, it's high time we legalize them. Who cares if people get high if the cops are going to be allowed to dish out the death penalty for possesion or use. The only reason drugs are illegal is to provide the government with a reason to stop, harrass and arrest the minorities. If you all care so less about these people as to condone murdering them, why do you care if they get high? After all, If we aren't free to medicate ourselves, just how free are we?

mommy22girls
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mommy22girls 12/21/08 - 09:17 am
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It's funny how justus4 is

It's funny how justus4 is using racial slants when the cops that shot him where minorities. Far as the media, they are only doing there job. This is a controversial case so of course they are going to publish his rap sheet, white or black. Far as his family, I am sure IF they wanted to speak up they would have the chance, the "white" media has interviewed people against the shooting, so I am sure if his family wanted to give an interview they could.

Far as the dog getting lots of media time, I agree with you on that one, I am really tired of seeing it!

JohnQPublic
5
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JohnQPublic 12/21/08 - 09:21 am
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I feel for this young man's

I feel for this young man's family but he chose his lifestyle, and all of the consequences that go along with it. No one forced him into it. We all have to live, or die, as a result of our choices. Too bad he didn't put the mind he has for business into a legitimate way to make money. Also, he didn't care about who he helped to get on drugs, or who he helped get closer to the grave by selling drugs to them. All he cared about was the money. He didn't care about anything else. Is this is what is being admired? That he ruined lives? There are three consequences to the drug life: jail, institutions or death. What's your choice. He made his.

JohnQPublic
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JohnQPublic 12/21/08 - 09:22 am
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The saddest part about this

The saddest part about this whole story is that there is someone ready to fill his shoes. Ready to take over the glorified lifestyle. Where is the glory? He is dead. Show me the glory in dying young for nothing. That's right. He died for nothing and it was his own doing. No one else is to blame but him. So are you going to be the fool to take his place on the streets for a while? To ruin your life? Is that all you are worth? A car, some clothes, and junk jewlery?

Waymore
103
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Waymore 12/21/08 - 09:28 am
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usnvet, you call using

usnvet, you call using cocaine, heroin, LSD, self medication? That's rich! Have you ever dealt with someone high on this stuff? But, I agree, legalize it all, and tax it. However, when some idiot gets hooked on it, don't look for government assistance to get off it. Just like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, everyone knows the consequences of getting hooked. And, if you really are a usn vet, how many innocent people have YOU murdered? I guess we could all sit here and call you a baby killer or that you murdered people by lobbing missiles while you were hundreds of miles away.

soldout
1280
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soldout 12/21/08 - 09:29 am
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"The wages of sin are death"

"The wages of sin are death" Sowing and reaping is color blind. Instead of being dead he could be achieving many good things and living a blessed and joyful life. Others are making the same choices today that he made. Whatever the question or the situation Christ is the answer and sin is the problem.

wizzardx1
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wizzardx1 12/21/08 - 09:52 am
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A note to usnvet-If you call

A note to usnvet-If you call selling drugs to children so that they can "medicate themselves" an honorable profession, you need to rethink your priorities.This person was not JUST medicating himself,he was selling addictive drugs to children. If you condone his behavior, you are in need of some medication.

CalvinCool
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CalvinCool 12/21/08 - 10:01 am
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One less criminal walking the

One less criminal walking the streets; I dont see a downside.

Martinez
154
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Martinez 12/21/08 - 10:06 am
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Where is SMH this morning.

Where is SMH this morning. According to SMH, this fine upstanding young man's arrest records was almost entirely for loitering at one specific store. According to SMH he was also gainfully employed in his family's successful and legitimate construction business and had enough money to buy his vehicle with cash. I am so confused why the police and paper and court records would all contradict the all knowing SMH (LOL).

Rupret in the middle east
0
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Rupret in the middle east 12/21/08 - 10:10 am
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What is wrong with you

What is wrong with you people? Three convictions and your are going to do hard time. The americans judges are too soft and defense lawyers sucks. They will do and say anything for a dollars.

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 12/21/08 - 10:10 am
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Why was a man with a history

Why was a man with a history of selling illicit drugs allowed back on the streets after 10/06? Then he pleaded guilty to three felony charges at least one of which involved possession of cocaine with intent to resell. How many of our innocent children did Elmore hook on drugs before he met his untimely end?

SargentMidTown
8
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SargentMidTown 12/21/08 - 10:11 am
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Veteran criminal defends

Veteran criminal defends attorney Pete Theodocion said Mr. Elmore's number of arrests might shock some people, but it is probably more reflective of his socioeconomic circumstances that is why H.O.N.G.K.O.N.G. came into existence because gentrification not revitalization is the only way to really make downtown Augusta a better place to live. Those trouble maker need to be replaced with upwardly mobile people. The trouble makers do not deserve downtown Augusta. Harrisburg and all of downtown will be great when gentrification becomes a reality. Downtown Charleston S.C. is a good example. Support www.hongkongaugustasga.org Merry Yule Tide.

ITDoc
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ITDoc 12/21/08 - 10:13 am
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Justus: Do us all a favor: Go

Justus: Do us all a favor: Go to CTX and resist arrest.

Martinez
154
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Martinez 12/21/08 - 10:15 am
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On a more serious note, I do

On a more serious note, I do think it is shameful that the Augusta Chronicle is keeping this story going. Those who believe the police were wrong will not be convinced by reading his extensive criminal history. Those of us who support the police don't care to know these details. If this is supposed to be a story about the court system failing, use another criminal as your example as you are merely fueling an unnecessary fire and adding salt to the wound of a grieving family.

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