Author: Jason Johnson

Hurricane Nate leaves flood, wind damage in its wake

Though Hurricane Nate made landfall in Mississippi, the Category 1 storm caused its share of damage in Mobile County, especially on Dauphin Island, where several miles of sand on one of the main roadways has continued to hamper some recovery efforts. One of the most notable impacts of Nate was storm surge, which caused localized flooding on Water Street in downtown Mobile., but aside from wharfs and seawalls, there was little in the way of structural damage when the waters receded. First responders in Mobile evacuated four people in areas affected by minor flooding and responded to nine calls...

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Circuit Court accepting names for judicial vacancy

The Mobile County Judicial Commission has set an October 24 deadline for submitting names to be considered for Mobile County Circuit Judge, Place Nine, which will be vacant upon the retirement of Judge Rosemary de Juan Chambers. Chambers, who was appointed circuit judge in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit of Alabama in 1992, plans to retire as of January 4, 2018, after more than 25 years on the bench. A graduate of Vanderbilt University and the University of Alabama School of Law, Chambers worked as a prosecutor for the City of Mobile, as counsel for the Department of Human Resources...

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Convicted murderer to represent himself at retrial

A Mobile County man sentenced to death for capital murder plans to represent himself at a retrial next year after an appellate court overturned his conviction in 2016 because prosecutors improperly introduced evidence at his initial trial. Derek Tyler Horton was 18 when he was arrested for the 2010 murder of Jeanette Romprey, a 59-year-old Grand Bay resident whose body was found in her burned trailer home with two gunshot wounds to the head. Indicating a robbery, several items from inside Romprey’s home were scattered at the edge of a nearby lake and her car was missing. The same...

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Alabama Supreme Court rules Poarch Creek Indians can be sued

The Alabama Supreme Court last week issued rulings in three civil cases involving the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and its business enterprises, concluding that the tribe, despite having sovereign immunity, can be sued civilly if an injured party has no other option for relief. In one of the cases, justices also acknowledged “genuine questions” about the validity of PCI’s federally recognized trust lands in the wake of a 2009 ruling of the United States Supreme Court. Each of the cases challenged PCI’s right to invoke sovereign immunity, which — in a legal context — means the tribe and business arms...

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MPD officer filmed driving erratically resigns

A Mobile Police Officer captured in a viral video driving erratically before striking another motorist has tendered his resignation on Monday, according to Chief Lawrence Battiste. Lt. Jeffrey Hilburn, a 19-year veteran of the force who had previously been recognized for “outstanding” service, served a proper two-week notice of his resignation on Oct. 2, per a department spokesperson. The video, which racked up more than 100,000 views on Facebook on the first day it was posted, shows an MPD cruiser swerving in and out the right-hand traffic lane for nearly five minutes on what appears to an Interstate or...

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Man arrested for ‘threats’ referencing Las Vegas shooting

A Baldwin County man has been arrested and charged with making terroristic threats after writing “who wants to come slaughter all of Bay Minette like Vegas…” on social media in the wake of a mass shooting that left 58 people dead and more than 500 injured on Monday. The Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of 23-year-old Joel Logan Gilliam Oct. 3, after receiving numerous complaints that a man had made threats of violence against the citizens of Bay Minette on Facebook. The Federal Bureau of Investigation assisted with the investigation of those threats, which Public Information Officer...

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Manslaughter case against day care driver moves forward

District Judge Bob Sherling has found enough probable cause for a grand jury to consider moving forward with charges against the former van driver for an unlicensed day care center in Mobile accused of causing the death of 5-year-old Kamden Johnson last month. Johnson was found dead on the side of Demetropolis Road on Aug. 21 after police say he was likely left in a van driven by 46-year-old Valarie Rena Patterson. The day after Johnson’s death, Patterson was charged with manslaughter and abuse of a corpse. At the time, Patterson was employed as a driver at the Community...

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Raises, capital projects targeted in Mobile County budget

After taking “a conservative approach” for many years since the 2008 recession, the Mobile County Commission has approved a $141 million budget expected to fund some long-sought capital upgrades and extend pay raises to all county employees. Passed by a unanimous vote this week, the budget includes a 2.5 percent raise for all employees, a $500 “salary supplement” and an additional 7.5 percent salary increase for court police who provide security in Government Plaza and other county buildings. Finance Director Dana Foster-Allen is projecting a $4.5 million increase in revenues in the next fiscal year, including an estimated $3.4...

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