County by county news for Thursday


Man pleads guilty in 2007 GameStop murder

Patrick Graham pleaded guilty Tuesday for the murder of a GameStop store manager in Marietta in 2007. He avoids the death penalty, but will spend the rest of his life in prison. He admitted to robbing the Marietta GameStop store in 2007 and accosting, at gunpoint, store manager Matthew Cherry, a 21-year-old Kennesaw State student. He then forced Cherry, a co-worker and the co-worker’s father into a back room. According to court records, he later brought Cherry back out to clean out the cash register. Even though Cherry cooperated, Graham beat him, then tightly wrapped duct tape around his head. Fran Jeffries

Cobb man arrested for child porn

Moreland Smith Jr., 72, was charged with sexual exploitation of children when it was discovered that he had sexually explicit pictures of young boys on his computer, according to an arrest warrant.

The photos were downloaded onto his machine sometime in October, according to court records.

Smith was booked into the Cobb County Jail and released on $10,000 bond. Marcus K. Garner

Victims and activists participate in gun rally

Community activist Markel Hutchins will be joined by ministers, civic leaders, student activists and organizations for a rally and candle vigil 6 p.m. Feb. 7 at GLOCK Inc., 6000 Highlands Parkway SE, Smyrna.

The demonstration, at the gun manufacturer’s headquarters, will focus on the proliferation and saturation of handguns in urban cities.

The event follows the recent shootings at Price Middle School and Morehouse College in Atlanta, and the current national debate on gun control.

Kenneth Musisi

Deputy charged with sexual battery

Cobb County sheriff’s deputy Sgt. Kristopher Travitz, of Douglasville, was arrested Friday following an internal investigation into alleged misconduct that occurred two years ago and was terminated, according to Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren.

The14-year veteran was charged with aggravated sexual battery, sexual assault by a member of law enforcement, violation of public oath and false statements — all felonies — and booked into the Bartow County jail, where he was being held without bond Tuesday.

Travitz allegedly fondled a female inmate in custody between October 2010 and March 2011, according to his arrest warrant. Travitz also claimed in an interview that the inmate, whose name was not released, had never gone to his home, the warrant states.

But he later admitted she had come to his home, according to the sheriff’s office. Alexis Stevens

Youth orchestra to perform this weekend

Students in the 400-member Georgia Symphony Orchestra’s youth orchestra and chorus will perform 3 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Kennesaw State University. Shows will be at the Bailey & Family Performance Center off Frey and Campus Loop Roads.

Groups include chorus and chamber music, philharmonia, jazz, symphony and percussion ensembles. Admission is $5. Information:

Tucker McQueen for the AJC


Sidewalk to be built along U.S. 29 in Lilburn

About a mile of sidewalk along the north side of Lawrenceville Highway/U.S. 29 will be built in Lilburn after Gwinnett County Commissioners awarded a $332,000 contract Tuesday.

The new sidewalk will fill in gaps between existing sections, creating a continuous sidewalk from Rockbridge Road to Hillcrest Road/Main Street and linking two County parks – the new Bryson Park and Lions Club Park. The project also includes cross walks and pedestrian signals at Holly Ridge Drive/Pine Road. The city of Lilburn is funding a portion of the signal work. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of the year. Dan Klepal

Massage chair cashboxes stolen

Authorities are looking for a suspect accused of 10 burglarizing massage chairs, most of them at businesses on South Norcross-Tucker Road in unincorporated Norcross.

The suspect usually smashes out glass doors or windows, then pries open cash boxes attached to each chair, police said.

Anyone with information should call Gwinnett police at 770-513-5300 or Crime Stoppers at 404-557-8477.Bryan Cronan

Second diamond interchange to come

Gwinnett County’s second diverging diamond interchange will be built this year on the bridge at Jimmy Carter Boulevard and Interstate 85, after the county commission on Tuesday approved the $6 million project. Gwinnett’s first project of this type is currently under construction at the Pleasant Hill Road connector to I-85.

The project is expected to be complete within a year.

Dan Klepal

Suwanee offers teen driver safety course

The Suwanee Police Department is offering a free two-hour program to assist parents and new teen drivers.

Georgia Teens Ride with PRIDE (Parents Reducing Injuries and Driver Error) will be offered at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 27 at the Suwanee Police Training Center at 2966 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.

Rather than a technical, hands-on driver training program, PRIDE addresses seat belts, crash dynamics, Georgia’s teen driving laws, parental influence, and peer pressure. The course is free, but space is limited.

Registration forms are available at A parent or guardian must attend with their teen. Andria Simmons

SPCA hosts vaccination clinic

The Georgia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will host a Vaccination Clinic with low-cost tests and shots, 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at 1175 Buford Highway, Suite 109, Suwanee.

Dogs must be on leash, and all cats in a carrier. Information:

Kenneth Musisi

Child car seat safety checks available

The Lilburn Police offer free child car seat safety checks 1 to 4 p.m. every Thursday at 76 Main St. in Lilburn.

Appointments can be made for other dates and times with Lt. Chris Dusik, 770-638-2185. Karen Huppertz for the AJC


Roswell K-9 officer receives bulletproof vest

The Roswell Police Department recently received a bulletproof vest for its K-9 officer Bruno. The Kevler K-9 vest was donated by Trouw Nutrition USA, a supplier of specialty ingredients to the U.S. pet food industry, and Kevlar for K9s, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the safety of working dogs. The vest is valued at $840, and will be used to protect the K-9 unit during high risk situations.

Information: and Mea Watkins

New aquatics center plans mass hiring

The Cherokee County Aquatic Center, set to open late April-early May near I-575 and Sixes Roadwill hire 70-80 part-timers in about 10 days. Manager Kim Baker says they’ll need lifeguards, front-desk attendants and concession workers. Openings will be posted on the Cherokee County government website,

Mark Woolsey for the AJC

Doctor charged with child molestation

A Fulton County grand jury on Wednesday indicted Sandy Springs physician Kelly Thrasher, 40, and charged him with molesting a juvenile girl during a sleepover at his home.

The grand jury added charges of sexual battery and aggravated sexual battery to the indictment.

Thrasher was arrested Jan. 24 after his release from the Ridgeview Medical Center where he entered himself after detectives initiated a criminal investigation into the molestation complaint, according to police.Thrasher is also charged in a November 2012 incident where he is accused of sexually assaulting a 38-year-old woman at his residence in Sandy Springs. That case is set for 10 a.m. on Feb. 13 in Sandy Springs Municipal Court. Fran Jeffries

Billing changes set for water, sewer

Forsyth County Water and Sewer Department customers may see changes in their billing and due dates beginning with their March bills. The county says that’s because both billing routes and cycles are being updated and more geographically grouped to improve efficiency. Customers will get more detailed information in bills mailed next month. Information:

Mark Woolsey for the AJC

Roswell Historical Society to meet

The Roswell Historical Society’s general meeting will be 7 p.m. today at The Gardens at Great Oaks, 786 Mimosa Blvd., Roswell.

Mary Williams, a local story teller will present on “Through the Eyes of a History Trivia Buff.” Event is free. Information:

Kenneth Musisi

Valentine’s Day gala concert planned

The Ludwig Symphony Orchestra will present a gala concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 950 Forest St. “A Beethoven Romance for Valentine’s Day” will feature cellist Caroline Nicholas, baritone Igor Vieira, and violinist, Tracy Du. Tickets are $22 adults; $19 seniors; and $12 students age 22 and under. Information: 770-623-8623 or

Mea Watkins


District 5 council seat draws challenger

Matt Rinker, a real estate professional and resident of East Atlanta, says he will challenge Natalyn Archibong (Atlanta City Council District 5) in November’s elections.

In campaign materials, Rinker said unsafe streets, underfunded schools and a park system in need of new leadership are among the reasons he chose to run against Archibong, who was first elected to the council in 2001. Jeremiah McWilliams

Burglars drive car through tavern

Burglars drove a vehicle through the Corner Tavern on Huff Road early Tuesday in the second unsuccessful attempt in as many weeks to steal the bar’s cash machine.

A witness saw three men get out of the stolen vehicle that had crashed into the bar, and when she “made a loud noise,” the three fled the area on foot, leaving the vehicle sticking out of the front of the building, a police report stated. Mike Morris and John Spink

Event today against child sex trafficking

Groups of individuals and organizations, led by Street Grace will take a stand against Atlanta’s epidemic of child sex trafficking by participating in the Stop CSEC! Lobby Day.

Volunteers will distribute materials into the offices of elected officials from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. today at the state Capitol.

Information: Kenneth Musisi

Law schools to host discover program

John Marshall Law School, in partnership with the Law School Admission Council and law schools at Emory University, Georgia State University, Mercer University and the University of Georgia, will host a free Discover Law seminar 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 28 at JMLS’s Blackburn Conference Center, 1405 Spring St. The program encourages students from racial and ethnic minority groups to pursue a legal education. Interested high school students and college freshman and sophomores may register. Information: Veronica Fields Johnson


Clarkston store clerk shot during robbery

A DeKalb County video store clerk was in critical condition Wednesday after being shot during an overnight robbery.

The shooting happened at T&T; Video on Market Street in Clarkston.

The 19-year-old victim, whose name has not been released, was shot in the arm, and the bullet traveled into his abdomen. The armed gunman forced his way in just as employees were closing Tuesday night. Mike Morris

Decatur to lauch pilot shuttle

Decatur assistant city manager Lyn Menne announced the city will launch its “Golden Shuttle” in March, a pilot program initially scheduled to last six months.

The shuttle will serve senior citizens in the Oakhurst and College Heights neighborhoods of South Decatur, with service on Wednesday into downtown. Though destinations haven’t yet been determined, Menne said likely targets include the library, grocery, post office city hall and the Decatur Rec Center.

After six months the city will consider if and how it will expand the program. Bill Banks for the AJC

Motivational speaker to appear at Fernbank

Carl McNair, an author and inspirational speaker, will appear at Fernbank Science Center’s Cherry Memorial Planetarium this weekend.

McNair set up a foundation in honor of is brother, Ronald E. McNair, after he and six other astronauts died aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986.

McNair’s speech will be followed by an animated short film and “We Choose Space” film.

The event begins at 1 p.m. Saturday at the planetarium. The films begin at 1:30 p.m.

April Hunt

DeKalb seeks input on transportation update

DeKalb County’s public works department will hold a series of meetings this month to gather resident input on the county’s transportation plan.

The first meeting will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. today Senior Center, 2548 Panola Road.

A second meeting will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday 2/9 at the Maloof Auditorium, 1300 Commerce Dr., Decatur.

Information: April Hunt

Brookhaven unveils budget

Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis has unveiled the new city’s first budget, which would hit the maximum allowed tax rate but includes a $400,000 reserve.

The $15.7 million budget, which calls for a 3.35 millage rate, will cover the city’s operating costs but does not include estimates for prices to set up a police department later this year.

The budget is about $9 million lower than projected by the Vinson Institute of Government’s feasibility study, in part because of several revenue sources such as franchise fees that the city will not receive until next year.

The City Council is scheduled to hold a hearing on the budget on Feb. 26. It is available for review online at

April Hunt


Citizens Police Academy gearing up for spring

The Henry County Police Department is offering an eleven-week Citizens Police Academy, scheduled to run 6-8 p.m. Tuesdays March 5 through May 14. The program is designed to educate and inform citizens about issues that face law enforcement efforts through comprehensive instruction. Classes will meet at the public safety annex in McDonough. It is free to adults who live or work in the county but space is limited and a background check is required. Information:

Monroe Roark for the AJC

Peachtree City poetry contest resumes

The Friends of the Peachtree City Library is accepting submissions for its third annual poetry contest. This year’s theme is “Our World, Our Community.” Cash prizes of $100 will be awarded in three age groups; entries are due March 1. Rules and forms are available at the library or by contacting

Jill Howard Church for the AJC

Henry set to receive GDOT grants

Henry County is slated to receive more than $1.5 million in Georgia Department of Transportation funds through its Local Maintenance & Improvement Grant program. According to the list of statewide approved applications on the DOT web site, $1,403,536.48 has been approved for unincorporated Henry County, as well as $52,329.32 for Hampton and $153,933,34 for Stockbridge.

Monroe Roark for the AJC

Clayton State seeks help for homecoming

Clayton State University is gearing up for its Homecoming 2013, featuring a parade from 11 a.m to 1 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 9). Staging will be at the Morrow Municipal Complex & Milton Daniel Park, 1500 Morrow Road. Community involvement, including volunteers and participation of local organizations and businesses, is needed. Information: Heidi Benford, 678-466-4328 or Lisa Gibson for the AJC

Morrow alerts drivers as parade nears

Morrow Police announces a shutdown 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday for a portion of Jonesboro Road (Ga. 54) for the Clayton State University Homecoming Parade. The northbound lanes of Jonesboro Road will be diverted at Adamson Parkway. The northbound lanes from Adamson Parkway to Clayton State Boulevard will be shut down to vehicular traffic for the parade. Lisa Gibson

Peachtree City to fill WASA posts

After declining to appoint two existing applicants to the Water and Sewerage Authority last week, the City Council of Peachtree City is soliciting more volunteers to fill the posts amid debate over recent rate hikes.

Applications for the five-year appointments will be accepted through Feb. 15. Go to for details. Jill Howard Church

Private school to host open house

Woodward Academy private school is hosting an open houses for the PreK-12 Main Campus 2 to 5 p.m. Feb. 10, at 1662 Rugby Ave., College Park. Jeffry Scott