An Afton man charged with second-degree murder in connection with the February death of a Chuckey man in Johnson City recently entered a guilty plea to the lesser charge of reckless homicide.
Justin Brian Wills, 35, of 3875 Erwin Highway, was sentenced Oct. 30 by Washington County Criminal Court Judge Stacy Street to a six-year sentence that includes one year in jail and five years of probation.
Joseph Parlier, 24, died as a result of injuries suffered in a shooting on the night of Feb. 6 at the home of an acquaintance of both men on East Maple Street. Wills was charged with the second-degree murder count by Johnson City police after the Chuckey man died Feb. 8.
A preliminary investigation revealed that Parlier went to the house to visit the homeowner and shortly after entering the residence, he received a gunshot wound to his head.
“A subsequent investigation revealed that this incident was caused by negligent handling of a firearm and also alcohol contributed to this incident,” a police news release after the shooting said.
Wills’ defense lawyer, Joseph McAfee, said Thursday that subsequent investigation showed the shooting was accidental.
McAfee said there was no evidence of a dispute between Wills and Parlier, who knew each other.
He said the plea agreement reached with prosecutors fits the facts of the case.
“Not one shred of evidence has been produced that it was anything other than a horrible accident, which supported reckless homicide,” McAfee said.
Reckless homicide is a Class D felony. Second-degree murder is a Class A felony that carries a 15- to 25-year prison sentence with no parole, McAfee said.
“I think we reached a just disposition,” McAfee said.
At the plea hearing, Wills admitted responsibility.
“It was a horrible accident and he felt horrible about it and apologized to the victim’s family,” McAfee said.
Street gave Wills credit for time served. Wills should be released about February 2020 from the Washington County Detention Center and begin serving his probationary term, McAfee said.
Greene County-Greeneville EMS personnel are often the first to arrive at scenes where seconds can mean the difference between life and death.
One such ambulance team happened to be at Greeneville Community Hospital East on June 4.
The actions of Emergency Medical Technician Josh Rodrigues and Advanced Emergency Medical Technician Jordy Clark that day in response to an unrelated emergency were vital in helping a neonatal transport team get a critically ill newborn on a Wings Air Rescue flight to Niswonger Children’s Hospital in Johnson City.
For his actions, Rodrigues was named the third-prize winner of the Dynarex Corp.’s annual First Responder Caring Award, a national honor announced in October at the EMS World Expo in New Orleans.
Dynarex is a medical equipment supplier. Rodrigues was not at the medical trade show, but was presented Thursday with a plaque and $250 from Dynarex by T.J. Manis, Greene County-Greeneville EMS operations director. County EMS also received $250 in Dynarex medical products as part of the award.
The First Responder Caring Award was created to honor EMS/EMT first responders or units “who have gone above and beyond the call of duty,” according to a Dynarex news release.
Rodrigues was among three winners nationwide selected from numerous submissions from first responder organizations for “unconditional commitment to serving others” and for “caring compassion and dedicated service.”
Manis said Clark is also deserving of an award, but only one person could be nominated.
“They took it upon themselves to help,” Manis said.
The actions of Rodrigues are outlined in the nomination statement submitted by Manis to Dynarex.
Rodrigues and Clark were on an unrelated patient transport call at Greeneville Community Hospital East when they saw a Wings Air Transport flight crew and neonatal transport team struggling with heavy equipment that needed to be placed onboard the helicopter to transport the newborn to Niswonger Children’s Hospital in Johnson City.
Rodrigues and Clark got a power stretcher in their ambulance to assist the transport team with moving a 300-pound isolette for the infant to the Greeneville hospital’s pediatric unit.
After arriving in the pediatric unit, Rodrigues and Clark remained with the transport team and assisted with stabilization of the newborn and preparing the infant for rapid transport.
Once the infant was placed in the isolette, the EMS crew helped the neonatal transport team move the baby back to the helicopter “and (with) loading the 250-plus pounds of equipment” back inside it for the short flight to Niswonger Children’s Hospital’s intensive care unit.
An isolette is a clear plastic enclosed crib that maintains a warm environment for a newborn and offers protection from germs. The newborn taken to Niswonger Children’s Hospital was having “breathing problems,” Clark said.
“The crew went above and beyond their call of duty to assist this very sick infant,” Manis wrote in his award recommendation to Dynarex.
Rodrigues and Clark also received recommendations for their actions that day from the neonatal intensive care unit director and the staff at Niswonger Children’s Hospital.
Rodrigues has been a paramedic with Greene County-Greeneville EMS for a total of about six years. He returned to Greene County in October 2016 and has been partnered with Clark since earlier this year. They often work out of the Tusculum and South Greene EMS stations, but answer calls all over the county.
Rodrigues, 29, grew up in a military family and moved to Greene County when he was a teenager.
He finds work as an EMT fulfilling.
“I guess the biggest thing is that I get to see we make a difference,” he said. “I enjoy the challenge of the job some days. It’s not boring. You’re not doing the same thing over and over.”
Clark said being thanked by those he has assisted is rewarding.
Greene County-Greeneville EMS personnel answer more than 15,000 calls a year, Manis said.
Rodrigues said he and Clark saw the neonatal transport team needed help and the pair quickly stepped in.
“It was a team effort,” he said.
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) — A boy described as bright, quiet and “normal” pulled a gun from his backpack on his 16th birthday and opened fire at his high school before saving the last bullet for himself, authorities said.
The shooting that killed two teenagers and wounded three others Thursday at Saugus High School in a Los Angeles suburb took just 16 seconds and left the attacker hospitalized in critical condition with a head wound, authorities said.
Investigators searched the boy’s home as they sought a motive for the attack, which seemed to target students at random, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Captain Kent Wegener said.
Someone posted a message under a pseudonym on an Instagram account that was reported as possibly belonging to the boy, authorities said. The message said: “Saugus, have fun at school tomorrow.”
“However, the account has yet to be authenticated,” a Sheriff’s Department statement said.
It wasn’t clear when the message was posted or by whom, Wegener said. It was deleted after the shootings, either by a hacker or someone who had access to the account, he added.
Authorities said the teenager apparently acted alone. There was no indication that he was affiliated with a group or ideology, said Paul Delacourt, the agent in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office.
Gunfire erupted at about 7:30 a.m. as students were “milling around” and greeting each other in an outdoor quad area, Wegener said. Surveillance video showed the shooter standing still while “everyone is active around him.”
“He just fires from where he is. He doesn’t chase anybody. He doesn’t move,” Wegener said.
The suspect appeared to fire at whoever was in front of him. He had no known connection to those he shot, Wegener said.
Video showed the last thing the assailant did was shoot himself with the final bullet in the .45-caliber handgun, Wegener said. The weapon was empty when it was recovered.
A 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy died.
Two girls, ages 14 and 15, were each in good condition after being treated for gunshot wounds at a hospital.
A 14-year-old boy was treated and released from another hospital, authorities said.
Shauna Orandi, 16, was in her Spanish class when she heard four gunshots and a student burst into the room saying he’d seen the shooter.
“My worst nightmare actually came true,” she said. “This is it. I’m gonna die.”
She was later escorted from the school and reunited with her father in a nearby park.
At a Thursday evening vigil, Lea Reas said her nephew, a 14-year-old freshman, saw his friend shot to death before he ran from the gunfire and was pulled into a room by a teacher.
“At first he thought it was a graze” but later was told his friend had died, she said.
“He lost it,” she said.
Reas also said her 15-year-old cousin was walking onto the campus when she heard the gunshots that she said sounded “like a balloon” popping and saw the gunman.
She and her friends ran to a house across the street for safety, Reas said.
“It’s something no kid should deal with,” she said.
A sheriff’s detective and two off-duty police officers from Los Angeles and Inglewood who had dropped off children at the school ran to the shooting within moments and provided first aid, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said.
Police have not publicly identified the suspect because he’s a minor. The Associated Press determined his identity based on property records for his home and interviews with three of his friends.
The boy lived with his mother in a modest home on a leafy street in Santa Clarita, a Los Angeles suburb of about 210,000 people known for good schools, safe streets and relatively affordable housing.
He was a smart, quiet boy who played chess and had been active in a local Boy Scout troop, acquaintances said.
He seemed like “one of those normal kids,” according to a student in his physics class.
One girl who knew him for years said he wasn’t bullied and had a girlfriend.
The teen’s father died two years ago. An online obituary said he loved big-game hunting. In 2015, the father had been arrested amid a domestic dispute with the boy’s mother but no charges were filed.
The Sheriff’s Department hadn’t been called to the home recently and there was no indication of “turmoil” there, Wegener said.
Saugus High has no metal detectors but it has a dozen security cameras and a fence with a limited number of gates.
Security is provided by one unarmed sheriff’s deputy and nine “campus supervisors” who act as guards, said Collyn Nielson, chief administrative officer for the William S. Hart Union High School District, which cancelled classes for Friday.
All district schools hold lockdown drills three times a year, including two in the fall that have already occurred, Nielson said.
“In speaking with staff and hearing reports, students reported they knew what to do and immediately went into lockdown mode,” he said.
Residents of Shelton Mission Road attending Thursday’s Greene County Cable Franchise Committee meeting left happier than when they arrived.
Kim Sasser Hayden, senior manager of external affairs for Comcast in its Nashville office, reported that approval had been given Wednesday for the construction of a line to serve residents on the road in the Greystone area.
Applications for the needed permits are being submitted, and work to install a line to provide service could begin in 90 days if the permits are acquired and it is weather permitting, Sasser Hayden said. Permits typically involve the use of poles from other utilities.
There is not a timeline for the completion of the construction yet, and there are several variables that can determine how long it will take, she said.
The approval follows years of efforts in the case of some of the residents to have the cable service installed. Sasser Hayden thanked the residents for submitting a petition and other information to present to those who make the decision regarding extensions of service.
At the last meeting in September, Sasser Hayden had explained that the Shelton Mission Road project did not meet the company’s financial guidelines to be eligible for an expansion of cable along the road, and that the petition could help the case for the project.
Greene County Mayor Kevin Morrison thanked Bill Maxson for taking the lead in getting the names for the petition for submitting to Comcast.
“Government is supposed to work for the the people … but we need for the public to be interested,” Morrison said. “This shows what can happen when people take interest.”
The county mayor also thanked Comcast for working with the county and residents, and hoped that the positive progress can continue.
Sasser Hayden also reported that a construction crew had been out to the four houses on Old Stage Road that were seeking service and provided a new estimate for the cost to extend cable to the homes.
The new estimate is in the range of the original cost given to the homeowners for the extension, she said. The homeowners had been given a different, much higher price, when they went to take action to have the line installed
The homeowners have paid the cost now, Sasser Hayden reported, and the application for its permits have been submitted.
In other business, a new franchise agreement between the county and Comcast was discussed. Sasser Hayden sent a model agreement that the company uses to County Attorney Roger Woolsey and said agreements typically get adjusted to meet the needs of the community.
Woolsey asked questions about the model agreement, and Sasser Hayden said she would send more information and clarification about the various inquiries he had as the next step in drafting the agreement.
One inquiry was a clause saying that service for governmental agencies would be included in the 5% franchise fee, whereas in the current contract it is provided free.
Since the current agreement was approved about 15 years ago, there have been new laws and regulations passed as well as changes in the industry, Sasser Hayden explained.
This past summer, the Federal Communications Commission passed a regulation that the previously complimentary services had to be paid in some way.
The model agreement also does not set any standard that service has to be provided if so many homes are in a certain area. The current agreement states service has to be provided for 15 homes within a square mile.
Sasser Hayden said that those type of standards had been taken out of the model agreement because the requirement is not included in the franchise agreements that cable companies have with the state.
A draft agreement should be ready for the committee to review by its next meeting, Jan. 23, 2020.