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Cases moving closer to trial dates

POSTED: April 19, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Several cases pending in the Liberty County Superior Court are moving forward as they are moved from the criminal plea calendar to the trial calendar beginning April 21.

The State vs. Cortez A. Johnson
Cortez A. Johnson faces one count murder, one count felony murder, one count of aggravated assault and one count of cruelty to children in the first degree for his alleged involvement in the death of Montez Lassiter, just one month shy of the child's third birthday in March of 2006.
At the time of the incident Johnson claimed the child jumped from his bunk bed and died as a result of the injuries. But an autopsy report from the GBI in Savannah revealed the child reportedly died as a result of injuries to the stomach.
Hinesville police officers reportedly found Johnson performing CPR when they responded to a 911 call of a child not breathing at the Cypress Bend MHP off Highway 196 in Hinesville shortly before 9 p.m. on March 6, 2006.
HPD Maj. Thomas Cribbs said his investigation and the results of the autopsy led his department to take out a warrant against Johnson in which, "We allege the child died of blunt force trauma to the abdomen."
Originally denied bond, a secondary bond hearing was held in May 2006. Johnson was granted a bond in the amount of $40,000 cash or $80,000 property. He posted a cash bond through MacCauley Bonding Co. in Savannah. Johnson was briefly deployed to Iraq but has returned to the Hinesville area. On March 27, Johnson was pulled over for weaving across the roadway. According to an incident report LCSO deputy Larry Bell said he detected a strong odor of alcohol coming from inside the vehicle. Johnson tested positive for alcohol and was placed in the patrol car. Johnson reportedly told the deputy he was out on bond for murder. A background check confirmed the information. Within a few minutes HPD officers arrived on scene along with ADA Mark Hendrix and issued a special presentment bench warrant for Johnson who was taken to Liberty County Jail. He is set for a bond hearing on April 7. The trial for murder was placed on the trial calendar in April.

The State vs. Julie Barnard
Judge Robert Russell has set bond for Julie Barnard after she has spent more than 300 days behind bars.
Barnard is awaiting trial on one count of arson and five counts of aggravated assault for her alleged involvement in a home fire that reportedly placed her estranged husband and four children at risk last May. Russell ordered bond at $25,000 per count making bond $150,000 cash or $300,000 property. Her case was placed on the trial calendar.

The State vs. Latasha Jackson
Latasha Jackson faces one count of malice murder, one count felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of theft by taking - motor vehicle.
The charges stemmed from Jackson's alleged involvement in the stabbing and eventual death of Roosevelt Buchannan on Oct 19, 2006 at his Azalea Street home in Hinesville.
According to a Hinesville Police report, Jackson called an acquaintance and asked her to check on Buchannan because she had cut him during an argument. The acquaintance, Kendra Williams, reported she drove to Buchannan's house but called 911 from the driveway and did not go into the residence.
When police arrived, they found the front door ajar and Buchannan lying in a pool of blood in the living room.
One of Buchannan's neighbors reported seeing Buchannan's vehicle leave the residence earlier "in a hurry."
Buchannan was taken to Memorial Health in Savannah where he died about four weeks later.
Jackson was found in a wooded area near Buchannan's abandoned vehicle and arrested.
Her case has also been placed on the trial calendar.
 

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