Top Henry County crime and courts stories in 2016
McDONOUGH — The following is a look back on the top public safety news from the year, some the most widely-read and others the most impactful to citizens of Henry County.
Four killed in Moccasin Gap Road shooting
In the early hours of Oct. 27, police discovered four young people shot inside a Moccasin Gap Road home in Jackson. McDonough resident 18-year-old Matthew Hicks, 29-year-old Keith Gibson of Covington and 20-year-old Sophia Bullard of Thomaston were found dead. The fourth victim, 20-year-old Destiny Olinger of Jackson, was discovered in critical condition and died of her injuries three days later.
Olinger hosted a bonfire with friends at her home the night before the shooting, and the suspected murderers were in attendance. Two McDonough men, 22-year-old Jacob Cole Kosky and 19-year-old Matthew Baker, are facing charges of murder and aggravated assault in the shooting.
Kosky turned himself in to police hours after the shooting and reportedly confessed to the crime.
“At one point in the interview he made the admissions, ‘I domed everybody in the house. Two to the head. Everybody I saw. I did it,’ Henry County Detective David LeCroy testified in court in November.
Though authorities consider Kosky the primary shooter, Baker is facing four counts of malice murder and four counts of aggravated assault as party to the crime. Investigators believe Baker held a gun while Kosky spent the rounds in his revolver, before grabbing the gun from Baker to continue shooting.
Both men have been denied bond and are currently being held in Henry County Jail. A grand jury is expected to consider their charges some time next year.
Henry County officer found justified in wrong-house shooting
A grand jury determined Dec. 8 that Sgt. Patrick Snook was justified in his actions that resulted in the death of William Powell, the 63-year-old homeowner fatally shot when police officers responded to a distress call at the wrong address. Though Snook never faced criminal charges, Henry County District Attorney Jim Wright requested the grand jury review the findings of an investigation into the June incident by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Powell was shot around midnight June 8 when Snook and two other officers responded to the area of Swan Lake Road on information received from 911 dispatch. Powell was awakened by his dogs barking and walked out from his garage armed after he saw figures moving in his front yard, according to the family attorney. The jury found that Powell raised his weapon into a shooting stance when confronted by police.
“Sgt. Snook shot because he feared for his life and the lives of the other officers,” the jury stated in their finding of facts. The jury recommended no further action be taken against Snook, an 11-year HCPD veteran uniform patrol officer.
Snook returned to work at the police department shortly after the June incident.
Rosenbaums indicted on murder charges in death of foster child, plead not guilty
Jennifer and Joseph Rosenbaum pleaded not guilty in Henry County Superior Court Nov. 23 to all charges in the November 2015 death of their two-year-old foster child. In September, both husband and wife were indicted by a grand jury in Superior Court on one count of malice murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of cruelty to children in the first degree and one count of aggravated battery in the harm and death of Laila Marie Daniel, a child in their care.
The jury charged that the Rosenbaums acted with malice in Daniel’s death, accusing them of beating her about her body with unknown objects and inflicting “cruel and excessive physical and mental pain,” court records show.
Jennifer is also charged with a third count of cruelty to children for her treatment of Millie Place, Daniel’s four-year-old sister also in her care prior to Daniel’s death. The grand jury has accused Jennifer of causing the child mental and physical pain by striking her about her body with unknown objects.
The couple and their attorney Corinne Mull are now preparing for trial, expected some time 2017.
“We have a long road ahead of us to investigate the case, and we anticipate at the end of that case we will prove that neither one of them are guilty of abusing the children in any way, shape or form,” Mull said in November.
Mull added that though the burden is on the state to prove the couple guilty, she and her team “willingly assume the burden to prove them totally innocent.”
Teen dies in fiery seven-vehicle crash on I-75
Locust Grove High School senior Summer Ann Lee, 18, was killed Aug. 20 when her SUV was struck from behind on I-75 by a tractor trailer traveling northbound near Exit 218. According to the Henry County Police Department, the truck was driven by 49-year-old Daniel Crane of Jemez Springs, N.M. The collision set off a chain-reaction, pushing Lee’s vehicle into five other vehicles.
Lee was a well-known student who was active in her high school. She was a gifted athlete, awarded the Defensive Player of 2013 and Defensive Player of 2014 for her play on Locust Grove High’s junior varsity softball team, according to the school website. And in 2015, she earned the team’s Best Teammate Award.
Friends said her interests ranged from photography to philanthropy.
“She was bubbly and kind-hearted, such a gentle soul,” said her former principal, Anne Wilson of Unity Grove Elementary. “Everywhere that she went she exuded positivity and happiness. Just a ray of sunshine.”
Lee was honored at an Aug. 20 vigil at Locust Grove High School and at a funeral at Relevant Church in Locust Grove on Aug. 26.
Former school administrator and BOC candidate acquitted of child cruelty charges
Larry Morey, a former 2016 Republican candidate for chair to the Henry County Board of Commissioners, was acquitted Sept. 28 of child cruelty in the second degree by a Henry County Superior Court judge.
Morey was charged in February 2015 for “cruel and excessive, physical pain by striking said child about the body” in an October 2014 incident where he was accused of disciplining a special needs student at ABC Montessori in McDonough with a belt.
Morey’s attorney, Gil Maxwell, argued that the student’s parents gave Morey and ABC Montessori School permission to use corporal punishment on the child if needed. This was provided to the school in the form of a notarized agreement, signed by the student’s mother, which gave the school permission to authorize corporal punishment if other techniques were ineffective.
McGarity ruled that Morey was acquitted on the charge, noting inaccuracies in witnesses’ testimony. McGarity also said the prosecution had not accurately demonstrated that Morey had willfully caused cruel or excessive pain on the student.
Henry County public safety agencies make improvements, win awards
The Henry County Police Department celebrated its 25th anniversary in June. Since its establishment in 1991, the police department has grown to accommodate an explosion in growth in Henry County and incorporated many technological advancements in policing. Going forward, Chief Keith Nichols told the Herald in June he would like to see further improvements to the department in the coming years.
“I would like to see all our patrol vehicles have in-car cameras and computers since not all of them are equipped due to funding,” Nichols said. “We would like to be able to purchase body-worn cameras for our officers, but have found that the records retention aspect is extremely expensive. We are also looking to expand and add another precinct in the next couple of years.”
The department received several accolades this year, including the Mothers Against Drunk Drivers’ Agency of the Year. The department’s HEAT unit was named the state DUI Taskforce of the Year.
The Henry County Sheriff’s Office became the first agency in the state to implement a county jail booking device that uses the detail of the human eye to make identifications. The Henry County Jail’s new iris-scanning system was funded by seized drug funds from the drug task force, without the need for taxpayer dollars.
Henry County law enforcement agencies were presented with life-saving tools this year to aid officers in first responder situations. In September, Henry County District Attorney Jim Wright purchased $4,500 in opiate reversing, or overdose, kits from federally-seized asset funds for city and county police officers. In October, the Flint Circuit Drug Task purchased 500 tourniquets for all badge-wearing officers in Henry County to aid in officer self-care and for injured citizens.