Dade County Superior Court’s spring court session kicked off this morning in the new county courts facility with a 9 a.m. calendar call before Judge Brian House. Grand jury is scheduled for next Monday, April 9, and civil trials will be heard that week as well if any remain unsettled by then. Only two, both complaints for damages, are on the docket now.
Criminal trials start the week of the 16th. Quite a few criminal matters that have been in local news lately are scheduled to be heard this term, though which will make it before the judge this spring is impossible to predict. “Continued”—legalese for “later”—is a word heard around the courthouse probably about as often as “the."
“Continued” has, in any case, been a recurring chorus in the most high-profile of the criminal matters in the April lineup, that of former Dade Sheriff Patrick Cannon. His trial has been “continually continued” every fall and spring court term since it was first scheduled for October 2015. The only Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit judge who hadn’t recused himself from Cannon’s case has now retired and he has now been appointed an out-of-town one, Judge Grant Brantley from the Atlanta area.
(Photo: File shot of then-Sheriff Cannon circa 2012)
Cannon is accused of multiple charges of violation of oath by public officer and theft by conversion stemming from alleged misconduct during his two terms as Dade’s top cop, from 2005 to 2012, when he was defeated in the Republican primary by current Sheriff Ray Cross. During his "lame duck" period, after losing the spring primary and before leaving office at the end of the year, the then-sheriff allegedly went on a shopping spree with the county credit card, racking up thousands of dollars' worth of new clothes. He is also accused of improper disposal of confiscated property and of paying personal bills with county funds.
As it stands now, Cannon is scheduled for a motion hearing before Judge Brantley at 10 a.m. on April 18. Then--if the C-word does not again arise--Cannon would go on trial at 9 a.m. on April 23. The Planet will stay abreast of proceedings and duly report any developments.
Also scheduled for trial in April are Robert York and Teshena Bates, who made splashy headlines last December when a traffic stop revealed they were carrying three homemade pipe bombs in their vehicle, and a subsequent investigation reaped 10 more from their Trenton home. The pair have been incarcerated since their Dec. 5 arrests. At their March
arraignment both were granted $100,000 bail with electronic monitoring and a string of other conditions; but neither immediately took advantage of the opportunity to bond out of jail.
At a preliminary hearing for Ms. Bates in December, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent testified York had told him the couple had felt they needed the bombs to deal with a former boyfriend of Ms. Bates’ who was giving them trouble.
Danny Hall is also slated for trial on April 16. Hall, a paramedic who ran for county coroner in 2012, and whose namesake father was sole commissioner of Dade County for two decades, found himself under arrest after he fired shots during a Christmas 2016 incident in which tried to detain a drunken joy rider who had trespassed on Hall’s Wildwood property.
Both Hall and the joy rider, Daniel Snyder, were scheduled for trial last October, but Snyder, who was from out of state, did not appear. Snyder has since negotiated a guilty plea.
Charles Kevin Wooten, facing multiple theft, firearm and drug possession and trafficking charges, was to have stood trial this spring in three cases that had also been put off last October, but a “notice of conflict” motion has already been filed in the Wooten matter which is likely to result in another delay.
Frederick Alexander Baugh, the Alabama youth who led local enforcement on a high-speed chase through Dade in September and ended up striking three police cars, is also scheduled for trial April 16.
And a continuance has already been granted Lexus Couch, the 18-year-old Dade High School student arrested this winter for scrawling a vague but angry death threat on a bathroom wall at the school.
The Dade Planet will continue to cover Dade Superior as the April term progresses.