Looking back at a year of crime

January 1, 2018 GMT

2017: Year In Review


No arrests have been made in the shooting deaths of two men in 2017.

James Edward Parks was shot to death at around 9:30 p.m. June 14 on Nixon Avenue at Grover Street.

Police collected physical evidence from the Nixon Avenue site, including blood, DNA, bullets, shell casings and a gun. All of the items were sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab for processing, along with Parks’ body.

Initial reports were that a red Dodge Durango pulled up next to the victims, some words were exchanged and seven or eight shots were fired — with at least one hitting Parks in the head.

Kahtravious “Tra” Jermaine Montgomery, 21, was found lying in front of 3 Roseway Circle with a gunshot wound to the chest just before 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 14.

Montgomery died from his injuries early the next morning at Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Montgomery’s girlfriend had reportedly been talking to him a few minutes before the attack but had gone inside the house to lie down. Physical evidence at the scene led investigators to believe he was shot near the street and crawled to within a few feet of the front porch.


State investigators are still looking into allegations that a Rome insurance agent was taking premium payments from his customers and putting them in his own pocket.

Officials from the Insurance Commissioner’s office, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Rome police raided The Irwin Agency insurance offices in August and arrested the 55-year-old owner, Marshall Irwin Jr., on fraud charges.

Agents confiscated files from Irwin’s office at 1850 Redmond Circle, and they believe Irwin may have pocketed as much as $20,000.

The six warrants allege two different victims over a period of two years. Each fraud count is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

At the time of Irwin’s arrest, a spokesman said there still may be more people who were affected by Irwin’s actions.

Two Columbus teenagers were arrested in connection with the shooting death of a Berry College student.

Ricket Damon Carter and Troy Jamal Cokley are accused of robbing Joseph Mc-Daniel of marijuana and then shooting him. McDaniel was shot in the chest at the Summerstone Apartments off Old Summerville Road around 2:26 a.m. on Oct. 28.

Police said McDaniel, who was from Columbus as well, knew his attackers. Carter and Cokley fled the apartment after the shooting and were captured in Columbus.


A former police officer was among three people indicted on drug trafficking charges pertaining to a six-month long marijuana trafficking investigation which resulted in their arrests.

Earnie Edward Cox is accused of assisting Tyson Brown in a marijuana trafficking organization by providing “law enforcement sensitive information.”

Cox, Tyson Brown and Maverick Brown were both arrested in March and charged with marijuana trafficking. During the raid police confiscated two firearms, 14 pounds of marijuana and $127,868. Cox is also facing violation of oath of office and bribery charges.

Six months prior to the raid, Rome police Chief Denise Downer-McKinney contacted the GBI concerning allegations of corruption concerning Cox. Cox was fired and remained in jail. Tyson Brown is also being held without bond. Maverick Brown was released on bond but rearrested in May.

Two men accused of murder and another accused of brutally beating an Everett Springs woman were indicted by the Floyd County grand jury and are awaiting trial.

Frederick Duane Driver turned himself two days after the June 17 shooting death of 44-year-old Randy Lamont Diamond near the door to Diamond’s home at 103 E. Main St. Police said Driver went to get a gun after an altercation with Diamond then returned and shot him.

A dispute over money led to the fatal confrontation between Corey Demarcus Gardhigh and Paul Anthony Grady at Grady’s home at 15 S. Central Ave. in Lindale, police said. Gardhigh worked for Grady, who was a painting contractor. Grady later died at Floyd Medical Center as a result of head injuries. Police then charged Gardhigh with felony murder. Judge granted $100,000 bond, still in jail.

Teddy Eugene O’Neal is also still awaiting trial on multiple charges related to the assault on an Everett Springs woman on the morning of June 9. O’Neal was indicted on armed robbery, multiple aggravated assault counts, aggravated battery, burglary, and theft by taking and other charges.

He is accused of entering the home of a 64-year-old victim, brutally beating her with a baseball bat and then taking her GMC Yukon. He was arrested later in the day in the parking lot of a store off Park Avenue in Lindale.


Two crimes of note in 2017 are already resolved.

Michael Yates, a 22-year-old Floyd County man, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in December to the Jan. 13 shooting death of Scotty Dale Graham.

In a sentencing hearing, Yates’ lawyers said he shot Graham twice in the chest at around 6:40 a.m. after Graham had struck him in the head and took him to the ground.

He was sentenced to 20 years, to serve 10 in prison, on a voluntary manslaughter charge.

An inmate who escaped from the courthouse on May 8 pleaded guilty to escape charges and was sent back to prison where he was serving the remainder of a previous sentence.

Dustin Cotton was sentenced to 10 years in prison — five for the escape charge and five for an interference with government property charge. The sentences will run consecutively.

Cotton escaped the courthouse by slipping his leg cuffs and ran from the courthouse. The daylong hunt ended that night when law enforcement officials pulled him out of the Etowah River around 10 p.m.