After spending three hours in the Peach County jail, Lowell Register said he was wrongfully arrested on burglary and criminal trespassing charges at the broadcast tower for The Creek 100.9 radio station. Peach County deputies were patrolling Aultman Road after the station was knocked off the air Friday and Saturday when the transmitter was sabotaged at the site not far off Ga. 96 and Interstate 75. About 2:30 p.m. Sunday, a deputy arrested Register, 80, after he was caught with his son-in-law, who was drilling holes in the locked door of a building that houses the transmitter for The Creek.
This arrest, that was unwarranted and uncalled for and illegal and a lot of other things I could say, Register said Monday. This is my personal land, building and tower.
Although the Peach County tax rolls show him as the owner of nearly seven acres, it also notes that Register owes nearly $3,200 in taxes for 2015 and 2016. Register s company is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy after years of legal battles and the contested sale of Radio Peach and Radio Perry to Creek Media. In December, Bibb County Superior Court Judge Ed Ennis approved the sale of those radio companies, which had been held in a court-ordered receivership since early 2015.
I was not in default on any loans, he said Monday. Documents were presented in court that showed he defaulted on about $7.5 million in loans, property taxes and payroll taxes owed the Internal Revenue Service. Friday, a switch at the transmitter was turned off and Brad Evans, a co-owner of The Creek, suspected that Register was behind the outage but did not press charges.
The switch was flipped back on, and The Creek was back on the air after being off for about five hours, he said. Saturday, the station went off the air again about 10 a.m. when a circuit board was removed. Evans called the sheriff s offices in Peach and Bibb counties, thinking Register might have the board at his Macon home.
Engineers temporarily patched together a repair, and the station was back on the air about 7 p.m. Saturday. Register admits removing the mother board from the transmitter Saturday.
I just pulled it out and my son-in-law hid it, Register said. I m not stealing. Evans recovered it on the property Sunday.
Luckily he put it in a plastic bag, Evans said Monday as he examined the board.
Evans had returned to the tower, where a security guard was posted outside the gate Monday morning. Up until Saturday, Register had a key to the gate and the transmitter building.
It s my property. It s my building and land and up until (Sunday) I ve had the opportunity to come and go, Register said. Evans had the locks changed, which prompted Register to remove the gate Sunday and try to enter the building by drilling the door.
Register claims The Creek is intercepting rent payments due him from Cumulus Broadcasting to rent space on the tower and in the transmitter building. He also expects The Creek to pay rent for its use of the building and property. Evans said if they owed anybody rent, it would be Green Bull Georgia Partners LLC, which owns the loans Register Communications reportedly failed to pay.
Evans said he plans to explore pressing federal charges against Register.
It hurts. … It s already hard enough to run a radio station without someone tampering with your equipment, he said. Ultimately we re just going to keep doing what we have to do to stay on the air. Register also claims The Creek is unlawfully in possession of some Register Data Systems equipment that was removed from the studio on Forsyth Street. He wants Bibb County deputies to arrest someone for stealing my equipment, and he wants The Creek off the Peach County property.
I will have Creek Media removed because that land and that building belongs to me, Register said.
Lawmakers are poised to introduce bipartisan legislation to reinstate Delaware’s death penalty, which the state Supreme Court declared unconstitutional last year. Under the bill to be introduced next week, the death penalty could not be imposed unless jurors unanimously find, beyond a reasonable doubt, the existence of at least one aggravating circumstance making the crime eligible for capital punishment. Jurors also would have to unanimously find that each aggravating factor alleged by prosecutors had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. They would then have to unanimously determine beyond a reasonable doubt not just by a preponderance of the evidence, as the old law required that the aggravating circumstances outweighed mitigating factors cited by the defense.
Finally, the judge would have to agree with the jury that aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating circumstances, and that the defendant deserves the death penalty. Conversely, a judge would have the discretion to sentence a defendant to life in prison, even if the jury found that the death penalty was warranted.
“Delaware has a long history of applying capital punishment cautiously, judiciously, and infrequently,” bill co-sponsor Sen. Dave Lawson, R-Marydel, said in a prepared statement. “These proposed changes would raise the imposition of such a sentence to a new level, removing what the court found objectionable and strengthening protections afforded defendants.”
In August, a majority of Delaware’s Supreme Court justices said the state’s death penalty law was unconstitutional because it allowed judges too much discretion in sentencing and did not require that a jury find unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant deserves execution. That ruling came after the U.S. Supreme Court said Florida’s death sentencing law, which like Delaware’s gave judges the final say, was unconstitutional. Earlier this month, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation requiring a unanimous jury recommendation before the death penalty can be imposed. That came after Florida’s Supreme Court struck down a law passed earlier in response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed the death penalty to be imposed by at least a 10-2 jury vote.
Alabama is the only other state that allows judges to override jury decisions on whether an offender should get life in prison or the death penalty. Alabama lawmakers are scheduled to consider a bill next week to prohibit a judge from imposing a death sentence when a jury has recommended life in prison. Meanwhile, Delaware’s Supreme Court ruled in December that its earlier decision applied retroactively, sparing the lives of 12 men who had been on Delaware’s death row. Democratic Gov. John Carney has said he supports the ruling declaring Delaware’s death penalty law unconstitutional but has not promised to veto legislation reinstating capital punishment.
“I wouldn’t rule out, however, supporting a death penalty that applied only to those convicted of killing a member of law enforcement,” Carney said in an email Monday. “In some cases, specifically behind prison walls, capital punishment may be our only deterrent to murder.”
Last month, a prison guard was killed during an inmate riot and hostage taking at Delaware’s maximum security prison.
Democratic Attorney General Matt Denn has said he would support a law requiring a unanimous jury recommendation before a judge could impose the death penalty.
“Recent court decisions also require jury unanimity beyond a reasonable doubt for all facts necessary for the imposition of the death penalty,” Denn spokesman Carl Kanefsky said in an email. “The attorney general will support legislation that applies these standards to Delaware’s death penalty.”
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)
The Coast Guard wants to find the source of what authorities say are hoax distress calls coming from Florida’s Gulf Coast. Coast Guard crews in St. Petersburg say they’ve regularly received fake calls for help along southwest Florida over the last year. Officials say most calls came from the Cape Coral area. The Coast Guard says the calls were made on a radio channel designated for distress calls.
Charles “Marty” Russell, who leads the Coast Guard Investigative Service office in St. Petersburg, said hoax calls threaten the safety of responding crews and boaters who legitimately need help.
Penalties for making false distress calls include six years in prison and criminal fines.