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Top crime and court stories of 2015

2015 saw its share of crime and court news in Liberty and Long counties. Here is a look back at some highlights.

• Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jermaine Ray Mealy was charged with felony murder in the shooting death of Nathaniel Brown in June. Brown was shot during a scuffle inside Mealy’s home. Mealy was stationed at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and was attending military training in Texas when he received a phone call from his wife informing him that their Hinesville residence had been burglarized. Mealy drove home overnight to check on the well-being of his wife and home and found Brown inside. Brown was in Mealy’s bed, clad only in his boxers, and his wife, Lisa Mealy, was in the room. His wife said she was not in the bed with Brown and was fully dressed. A fight ensued between Jermaine Mealy and Brown, who was shot. Brown was pronounced dead at Liberty Regional Medical Center. Bond was set at $50,000 with the condition that Mealy have no contact with any witness in the case, including his wife.

• Waldo Pafford Elementary School was the apparent target of a drive-by shooting in February. No one was hurt, and students were released to their parents that afternoon. A bullet hole was found in one vehicle parked at the school, there were signs of at least one other bullet ricocheting off a curb, and three shell casings were found on the grassy area in front of the school near the road. That night, Marvin Roundtree, a former soldier, was arrested in connection with the shooting. He was apprehended at an apartment in Hinesville, not far from the school. Roundtree was charged with making terroristic threats and other charges were pending.

• A Liberty County jury awarded $3.5 million in the death of Barbara Porter in a lawsuit brought by her widower, Kenneth Porter. Barbara Porter, who had been chief operation room nurse at Liberty Regional Medical Center, died while being treated on July 30, 2011. The suit was filed against the three attending physicians, Dr. Stephen Weiss, Dr. Calin Badea and his wife, Dr. Traiana Pacurar. The plaintiff’s attorneys contended that Porter would likely have be alive if the attending physicians provided proper care. Porter had a history of gastric and pancreatic issues, diabetes and coronary disease. The suit stated that the three physicians ignored common symptoms of heart disease, focusing solely on gastric and pancreatic issues. The jury found that LRMC was responsible for 50 percent of the damages. LRMC was not named a defendant because it had reached an undisclosed settlement with Kenneth Porter. The jury also assigned a percentage of monetary responsibility to the defendants they considered negligent.

• Georgia Ports Authority Cpl. William Solomon was struck by a tractor-trailer in March while directing traffic by the port in Garden City. He died of his injuries in November at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, a private, not-for-profit hospital that specializes in brain and spinal-cord injury rehabilitation, after being transferred from Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah. Robert Lee Turner of Riceboro, who was driving the big rig, was charged with DUI in connection with the accident. Turner is serving a 10-month jail sentence in Liberty County after his probation was revoked. Solomon was laid to rest as a large group of family, friends and fellow law-enforcement officers said their goodbyes.

• Candice Nicole Boles was sentenced to 30 years to serve for her part in the death of her 3-year-old daughter, Andraia Boles, in February 2013. The case revolved around the final months and days leading up to the toddler’s death caused by substantial blunt-force trauma. Boles’ husband and co-defendant, Torres Boles, was sentenced to life in prison without parole after he was found guilty of causing the little girl’s death during his trial in September 2014. Superior Court Judge Paul Rose, who set Candice Boles’ sentence, recalled the brutality of the girl’s beating and how the toddler was forced to live days and hours on end in the couple’s bathroom. The prosecutor argued that the abuse was ongoing and that Boles never attempted to seek help for her daughter. Boles’ attorney, Stephen Yekel, said his client feared her husband would harm her and her family if she challenged his authority. Boles was immediately remanded to serve her 30-year sentence, with credit for time served.

• Terrence G. Jones was found not guilty on all 23 counts in a murder case stemming from a 2010 armed robbery that ended in a fatal shooting in a Hinesville apartment. The shooting occurred during a poker game after two men wearing masks reportedly burst inside. They demanded money and personal possessions and fired several shots at the people inside the home. One of the masked men shot Orlejandro Mark Smalls twice in the back of the head. Jones’ former girlfriend testified that Jones told her he killed Smalls after she, Jones and a third man, Antwan Lewis, headed out to the poker party in what was planned to be a robbery. She sat in the car, waited and when Jones and Lewis returned, she said  Jones stated that he killed Smalls. The ex-girlfriend said she did not tell police about this until she feared for her life after a domestic dispute with Jones in October 2013, when he threatened to kill her and her two children. Although found not guilty, Jones’ legal troubles are not over. He faces pending murder cases in McIntosh and in Liberty counties.

• Heather Salmon, the last of the initial five members from the radical militia group Forever Enduring Always Ready, or F.E.A.R., pleaded guilty in Long County Superior Court in the 2011 slayings of Tiffany York and Michael Roark. She was sentenced to
20 years in prison and 10 years probation. Salmon was the matriarch of the group and although she was not present on the night of the killings, she knew that they were to take place, encouraged them and then helped destroy related evidence. In exchange for her admission of guilt, the District Attorney’s Office reduced the two malice-murder charges to voluntary manslaughter and dropped all other charges except two counts of violating the Street Gang and Terrorism Prevention Act. All the individuals involved in the killing of York and Roark are now sitting behind bars.  

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