published Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

North Georgia shootings need jury consideration

  • photo
    Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Distritct Attorney Herbert “Buzz” Franklin.
    Photo by Staff File Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

It's been more than a month since Fred Steven Youngblood shot at two teens he said he found trying to take scrap metal from his yard in broad daylight. The teens said they thought the house was abandoned. It wasn't. Youngblood told police he told them to leave and they charged him. When he fired, he struck 17-year-old Dalton McConathy in the neck.

It's been three weeks since Joe Hendrix shot a 72-year-old, lost Alzheimer's victim who rang Hendrix's doorbell and walked to the backyard in the middle of the night. Hendrix left the house and shot the person he thought was a prowler after he gave orders to what turned out to be an elderly man with limited speech and understanding. He told responding officers that the man stepped toward him.

Police did not arrest Youngblood or Hendrix, and Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Herbert "Buzz" Franklin on Monday said he has not made a decision about whether either or both men should be charged.

Certainly it is a weighty decision, and one filled with many repercussions. Likewise, however, taking no action also has many repercussions.

Lives were changed forever on both ends of those guns, and all of the unanswered questions about those lives and the actions surrounding the shootings -- as well as the public's understanding of those actions -- need to be resolved, not just left hanging to be grieved over quietly and forgotten.

Even if Franklin cannot make a decision on his own about charging or not charging the shooters, he should turn the cases over to the appropriate Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit grand jury or juries for review.

In the teen death case, two Ringgold men have told of being threatened at gunpoint by the reclusive Youngblood, and a third has said he was shocked by the shooting of McConathy, who he said had regularly recovered scrap metal from his property and was always polite. That man said McConathy never took anything without permission and offering to split whatever money he got from the scrap yards.

The teens were in Youngblood's back yard when he confronted them from his elevated back porch, so how did they charge him? Was the most reasonable route out of the yard and back to their waiting truck one in his direction? Were they running because Youngblood screamed something like "right now!" and waved the gun?

In the Alzheimer's sufferer's case, if Hendrix truly feared for his life, why did he go outside of a locked home instead of waiting for police?

These are questions that deserve airing in court in front of juries made up of real people. And there are charges that can be brought that are not as overreaching as murder.

Guns are deadly -- not just threatening. And until we are willing to look at the sorrow that comes with poor judgment and poor use of guns, we cannot learn how and when to properly handle them.

Buzz Franklin, please don't just sit on this cases and think they will pass quietly into the night of short public memory.

You, and we, owe all of these families and ourselves more than that.

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
Hunter_Bluff said...

The Declaration of Independence promises the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness not the defense of property rights at the expense of human life. Drag this old punk in front of a board and determine if he's sane or truly nuts. If nuts, lock him up for public safety and if sane, try him among his peers for reckless endangerment, threat to public safety and making terroristic statements.

December 18, 2013 at 8:40 p.m.
please login to post a comment

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »


Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.