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Allen's mental state on trial
• Denver Allen is accused of killing his cellmate and a jury is hearing testimony on his competence to assist in his own defense.

Denver Fenton Allen

"I ain't never said I didn't kill that dude ... He's dead and there was only two people in that room," Denver Fenton Allen yelled during one of his outbursts Monday in Floyd County Superior Court.

Today, a jury is expected to decide why he said it.

Assistant District Attorney Luke Martin contends that Allen is trying to be declared mentally incompetent to stand trial for the 2015 murder of his cellmate in the Floyd County Jail.

Local attorney Dan Morgan, Allen's public defender, is arguing the 32-yearold Cartersville man is unable to assist with his own defense.

Allen made national headlines in June 2016 following a heated and profanity-laced exchange with Superior Court Judge Bryant Durham. The transcript was made into a cartoon video that quickly went viral.

Following a state diagnostic report, Superior Court Judge Billy Sparks — who took over the case — declared in April that Allen was temporarily unfit for trial. He was sent to Central State Prison in Milledgeville for evaluation.

Psychiatrists from Central State are expected to testify at the civil trial continuing today that Allen's competency is restored.

If jurors agree, Allen will face a criminal trial at a later date in the Aug. 26, 2015, murder of Stephen Rudolph Nalley. If they don't, he'll be committed to a state mental facility.

Allen sat quietly for much of the daylong proceedings Monday.

However, he interrupted Sparks and both attorneys several times with sexually based profanities and claims of "falsified records, multiple health issues and a court pedophilia ring. Twice he described how he'd like to go to someone's home with a shotgun and kill that person and his family.

Sparks had Allen removed from the courtroom at least twice after repeatedly admonishing him.

"I don't want you to miss your trial, but the only way you can stay is to follow instructions and let your attorney represent you," the judge said.

Martin tried to keep the focus on the legal definition of competency: Can the defendant understand the nature of the proceedings and the consequences of the trial, and is he able to help in his defense.

"Competency is a very fluid thing," Martin told jurors, adding that the doctors would explain how it could be controlled with medications and other treatments.

Morgan's strategy appeared to be to let Allen rant. He also brought in his sister, Mika Pederick, from Minnesota to testify about an abusive mother and a father who wasn't around.

"We saw him a couple of times when he got out of prison, before he was murdered," Pederick said.

She said their mother beat them and gave them impossible tasks "when she was high, or just angry because she wasn't high," and that Allen had been in and out of state facilities since he was 13.

Another of Morgan's witnesses, state forensic psychologist Dr. Sam Perri, was questioned about previous times he evaluated Allen after violent episodes while he was incarcerated.

However, Allen berated Morgan — "he's lying about me" — and asked for another attorney, which Sparks refused to grant.

Morgan is Allen's second public defender, appointed when he accused the first of propositioning him and working with the state to convict him.

Hutchins, Pledger, Story, get new stripes, badges

Rome Police Chief Denise Downer-McKinney said her department seeks to hire only the best of the best.

"You can't have the best officers unless you have the best supervisors," she said during a promotions ceremony at the Joint Law Enforcement Center Monday afternoon.

Chief Downer-McKinney administered new oaths of office to Danny Story who was promoted to Lieutenant and Officers Ryan Hutchins and Brandon Pledger who received the rank of Sergeant.

Assistant Chief Debbie Burnett reminded the new officers that they are now in a position to serve their fellow officers. "They don't work for you. You work for them," Burnett said.

Story joined the Rome Police in August, 1994. He made Sergeant in 2015 and is currently the assistant commander of the Selective Enforcement Unit. He is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.


Today's artwork is by Alto Park Elementary School fifth-grader Queyli Ortiz Santizo.

Officers get promoted

Assistant DA Goldin: Summerville man was strangled
• John Henry Weatherington Jr. is on trial for murder in the death of Nicholas Shropshire, found on the side of Floyd Springs Road in early 2015.

The trial of John Henry Weatherington Jr., charged with murdering a Summerville man in northern Floyd County, is slated to continue today.

But his attorney is contending the main witness the state will bring against Weatherington is the one responsible for the man's death.

"This isn't a drug deal gone bad, it's a robbery gone good," Arnold Ragas told the jury in Superior Court Judge Jack Niedrach's courtroom Monday.

Weatherington, 27, of Dalton is accused of killing 42-year-old Nicholas Shropshire on April 18, 2015, and robbing him of $1,500. A passerby saw Shropshire's body dumped on the side of Floyd Springs Road and called 911.

Assistant District Attorney Hal Goldin said Shropshire arranged to buy methamphetamine from Weatherington through Eric Jordan Hunter, 25, of 2014 Wesley Court in Rome. Now the prosecution's main witness, Hunter admitted his involvement as the driver of the car and will be sentenced on robbery charges later, Goldin said.

"But he will tell you what he knows about how that particular crime occurred, and how Mr. Shropshire ended up dead on the side of the highway," Goldin said in his opening statement.

Testimony is expected to continue at least through Wednesday.

Shropshire was in cardiac arrest when he was found and died later that day at Redmond Regional Medical Center. His body was taken for autopsy at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab.

Goldin said there were no visible signs of trauma but the autopsy revealed his windpipe had been crushed. The primary cause of death was strangulation, in combination with a 90-percent heart blockage.

A fingerprint of Weatherington's was on the rear view mirror of the car, which had been broken off in a fight and found in the backseat. Ragas, however, contends the hulking Weatherington couldn't fit in the back seat of the small Nissan Infiniti — and that it was Hunter in the car with Shropshire along with another unidentified person.

Hunter and Weatherington knew each other, and Hunter had bought marijuana from Weatherington earlier that day. But Ragas said Weatherington did not go with Hunter and the other person to the meet-up with Shropshire in the parking lot of Mr. C's convenience store in Armuchee.

Instead, he said, Hunter and the other person headed out to rob Shropshire of the cash they knew he'd be carrying. There was a fight and Shropshire died.

"Eric Hunter never intended to sell drugs to Mr. Shropshire. It was all a ruse, a ploy," Ragas said.

Hunter was arrested less than two weeks after the incident occurred and charged with murder and robbery. Weatherington was arrested in February on the same charges.

Goldin said he expects to present evidence from the GBI, Floyd County police investigators and others — including a friend of Shropshire's who drove him to Mr. C's for the meeting.

Floyd bands march together for Atlanta Christmas parade

For an opportunity that's usually reserved for bigger schools, 120 students from four local high schools are teaming up for the first time to form the Floyd County Schools marching band that will perform in the Children's Christmas Parade in Atlanta Dec. 2.

Coosa High band director Adam Daniel said he and his counterparts Seth Bates at Armuchee, Tim Burton at Model, and Mike Bright at Pepperell high schools have always been good friends.

So last year they started thinking of big-city parades they could get their students into such as the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Daniel said. They decided the 2017 Atlanta parade could lay the groundwork for getting their bands to New York City in the next few years.

Burton began the application process last year and all directors played a role in seeing it through. Daniel formed the arrangement for the unified band.

The students are tasked with finalizing their own routine and music during the few hours of Saturday rehearsals, which are hosted by directors at their respective schools, Daniel said.

The kids are excited for the opportunity, he added. Though their schools compete, the kids are having a good time together.

As any new band needs new uniforms, Model high sophomore and trumpeter Dawson Burnes submitted a design that aimed to incorporate all the schools' colors, the blue, black and white and an "F" for the district's logo. He wanted it to be simple and still recognizable as to who they are. Burnes said he loves to draw, and though he really had no past experience in drawing out uniform designs, he gave it a shot.

The Floyd County Schools band will be playing their compilation of Christmas carols in a tune-up run during Rome's Christmas parade Nov. 28.

The Children's Christmas Parade will be televised on Channel 2, and viewers can watch the band at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 2.

Daniel hinted that a potential trip to Pasadena, California, for the Tournament of Roses Parade could be in the band's future.