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Mistrial Declared After Day One of McKenzie Murder Case

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By News Staff

Photo by Andy Behlen” />
Deputies from the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office escort defendant Derrick McKenzie to a police car following the mistrial in his murder case Wednesday afternoon.
Photo by Andy Behlen

The Derrick McKenzie capital murder trial ended with a mistrial during jury selection Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 6.

The day began with nearly 350 potential jurors filing into the courthouse around 8:30 am. Wednesday under high security. Armed officers with metal detectors checked everyone who entered the courthouse for weapons. Even ink pens were not allowed inside.

The jury pool met with District Judge Jeff Steinhauser and defense and prosecution attorneys in two shifts because they could not all fit in the courtroom at one time. The judge dismissed some of the jurors based on factors such as age or those with young children. By that afternoon, the jury pool had been reduced to a number that could comfortably fit inside the courtroom at one time.

 

 

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Source:: Fayette County Record

      

La Grange Debaters Headed to State

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By News Staff

The La Grange High School CX Debaters competed at the district tournament on Tuesday, February 5, at the Randolph Recreation Center. Stephany Ramirez and Emma Allbritton placed 5th. Landry and Lee Holt placed second and Isis Debrock and Amelia Rohan placed first. The second and first place teams qualified for the state tournament in Austin on March 22 and 23. LHS CX Debate Team as pictured from left to right: Landry Holt, Lee Holt, Stephany Ramirez, Amelia Rohan, Casey Marshall, Emma Allbritton, Mason Friedel, and Isis Debrock).

The La Grange High School CX Debaters competed at the district tournament on Tuesday, February 5, at the Randolph Recreation Center. Stephany Ramirez and Emma Allbritton placed 5th. Landry and Lee Holt placed second and Isis Debrock and Amelia Rohan placed first. The second and first place teams qualified for the state tournament in Austin on March 22 and 23. LHS CX Debate Team as pictured from left to right: Landry Holt, Lee Holt, Stephany Ramirez, Amelia Rohan, Casey Marshall, Emma Allbritton, Mason Friedel, and Isis Debrock).

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Source:: Fayette County Record

      

Fayetteville Homecoming Royalty

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By News Staff

Last year’s Homecoming Royalty at Fayetteville High School helped crown this year’s Homecoming royalty at festivities at the school last week. From left to right: Last year’s King Damon Gerik, 2018-2019 King Stuart Castro, 2018-2019 Queen CeCe Mitchell, 2018-2019 Basketball Sweetheart and Homecoming Princess Emma Lapeyre, Last year’s Queen Stormy Kasmiersky, 2018-2019 Basketball Beau and Prince Lane Fritsch.

Last year’s Homecoming Royalty at Fayetteville High School helped crown this year’s Homecoming royalty at festivities at the school last week. From left to right: Last year’s King Damon Gerik, 2018-2019 King Stuart Castro, 2018-2019 Queen CeCe Mitchell, 2018-2019 Basketball Sweetheart and Homecoming Princess Emma Lapeyre, Last year’s Queen Stormy Kasmiersky, 2018-2019 Basketball Beau and Prince Lane Fritsch.

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Source:: Fayette County Record

      

Court blocks Alabama from executing Muslim inmate without his imam present

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By JTP

Kuzma/iStock(ATLANTA) — A federal appeals court on Wednesday blocked the execution of a Muslim inmate in Alabama after the state refused to allow his imam to be at his death instead of a Christian prison chaplain.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit granted an emergency stay of execution for 42-year-old Domineque Ray one day before he was scheduled to be put to death for the rape and murder of 15-year-old Tiffany Harville more than two decades ago in Selma, Alabama. The Alabama attorney general’s office has asked the United States Supreme Court to vacate the stay and let it proceed with the execution scheduled for Thursday evening, according to court documents.

“The central constitutional problem here is that the state has regularly placed a Christian cleric in the execution room to minister to the needs of Christian inmates, but has refused to provide the same benefit to a devout Muslim and all other non-Christians,” a panel of three district judges wrote in their decision Wednesday.

Ray has been held at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama, since he was convicted and sentenced to death in 1999. He has been a devout Muslim since at least 2006 and has been meeting with his current imam who has provided religious ministry to Muslim inmates like Ray since 2015, according to court documents.

On Jan. 23, two weeks before his scheduled execution, Ray met with the prison warden who, apparently for the first time, explained the practices and policies that the Alabama Department of Corrections adheres to during executions. Among other things, the warden told Ray that a Christian chaplain employed by the department would be in the death chamber as a lethal cocktail of drugs is administered. The inmate’s designated witnesses, along with any spiritual adviser other than the prison chaplain, may be seated in a witness room, separated from the execution chamber by a large window, according to court documents.

Ray asked if he could bring in his imam in place of the prison chaplain, but was told his request couldn’t be honored due to the department’s policy. Ray and his attorneys filed a civil rights complaint and an emergency motion for stay of execution on Jan. 28, claiming the policy violated his constitutional rights.

The Alabama Department of Corrections has agreed to exclude the prison chaplain from the death chamber, but a district judge on Friday denied Ray’s initial request for a stay of execution. The judge wrote that Ray waited “until the eleventh hour” to make his legal claim, it’s a matter of safety and security, and Ray’s imam, who is not a department of corrections employee, is “untrained, inexperienced and outside the state’s control.”

Ray filed an appeal and the court overturned the denial.

“We welcome this decision and hope Mr. Ray will ultimately be provided equal access to spiritual guidance,” Ali Massoud, the government affairs coordinator for the Alabama chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in a statement Wednesday.

The three-judge panel wrote in their decision that it was “exceedingly loath to substitute our judgment on prison procedures,” but that “it looks substantially likely to us that Alabama has run afoul of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”

“What is central to Establishment Clause jurisprudence is the fundamental principle that at a minimum neither the states nor the federal government may pass laws or adopt policies that aid one religion or prefer one religion over another,” the judges wrote. “And that, it appears to us, is what the Alabama Department of Corrections has done here.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Source:: National News

      

"Things That We Drink To": Morgan Evans spends 25 weeks and counting at #1 in Australia

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By Music News Group

Warner NashvilleApparently, there are a lot of people in Australia who’d love to get “Day Drunk” with Morgan Evans.

The Aussie hitmaker is currently spending his 25th week at #1 on the country charts in his home country with his latest single.

That’s not all, either: “Day Drunk” has also notched two weeks at #1 on the pop charts Down Under. It’s the first time a country artist has accomplished that feat since Taylor Swift did in 2009 with “Love Story.”

“Day Drunk” recently picked up the Golden Guitar Award for Single of the Year as well, an honor given out by the Country Music Association of Australia.

This weekend, Morgan travels to Los Angeles to support his wife Kelsea Ballerini at the Grammys, after he wraps up three more dates on Old Dominion‘s Make It Sweet Tour.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Source:: Country Music News

      

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