published Friday, August 30th, 2013

Teen indicted in friend's death and other news from areas around Chattanooga

Teen indicted in friend's death

ELLIJAY, Ga. — A Gilmer County grand jury has indicted an Ellijay teenager on charges that he was responsible for the death of his friend.

In July 2012, according to the indictment, 19-year-old Jonathan Ruel Batten drove his 2012 Chevrolet Silverado down Hill Road with several friends. It was just past midnight. John David O'Donnell, 18, sat in the front passenger's seat.

As Batten drove, O'Donnell leaned out the window, his feet resting on the seat and his hands gripping the truck. Batten rounded a curve at about 20 mph. Somehow, O'Donnell fell out.

Batten would tell police he thought a branch pulled his friend from the car.

When Batten found out that his friend was dead, police say, he told officers that O'Donnell died after he crashed a four-wheeler by himself. According to the indictment, Batten tried to hide his truck and told police he had been drinking that night. Investigators also found marijuana in his system.

On Aug. 22, the grand jury indicted Batten on 10 charges: leaving the scene, hit and run, reckless driving, failure to report an accident, tampering with evidence, making a false claim, two counts of driving under the influence and two counts of vehicular homicide.


Police seek robbery suspect

DAYTON, Tenn. — A man wearing possibly fake facial hair robbed a south Dayton bank Thursday afternoon, and Dayton police are asking for help finding him.

According to a Dayton Police Department news release, around 1:05 p.m. Thursday, one man entered First Bank of Tennessee on U.S. Highway 27 with a bag and a note demanding money.

A bank teller reportedly put an undisclosed amount of money in the bag, and the man exited the north side of the building.

Police said he appears to weigh around 300 pounds, or may have outfitted himself to look heavier than he is. He is reportedly around 6 feet tall. In photos taken from bank security footage, the robber is wearing a blue or black ball cap and glasses. Dayton police ask anyone with information to call 423-775-8403.


  • photo
    Dalton police are looking for a man who stole some items out of a car Saturday morning.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Man sought in theft from car

DALTON, Ga. — Dalton police are looking for 32-year-old Odie Dwain Ellis, their chief suspect in a burglary outside the West Walnut Avenue Wendy's around 1 a.m. on Aug. 24.

Ellis reportedly stole a computer bag and a credit card from two travellers' vehicle, which was parked at Wendy's while the couple ate at the IHOP next door.

Ellis reportedly stole three Blackberry cellphones, a Samsung Galaxy tablet computer, a lap top, a wedding band, a .38 Smith and Wesson handgun and "approximately $3,000 in cash," police said.

Ellis is a white male with close-cropped hair, police report. According to Dalton police, Ellis ditched the Blackberry devices and the Samsung tablet computer in a truck bed at Walmart on Shugart Road.

Dalton police ask anyone with knowledge of Ellis' whereabouts to call Det. Chris Tucker at 706-278-9058.

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