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Gainesville man charged in home invasion slaying of retiree

Slaying suspect captured after Gwinnett chase

POSTED: May 15, 2008 5:00 a.m.

The prime suspect in the slaying of a West Hall retiree was arrested after a high-speed chase Saturday night in Gwinnett County, authorities said.

Hall County Sheriff's Maj. Jeff Strickland said authorities have charged 41-year-old Donnie Poland of Gainesville in the home invasion shooting death of 69-year-old Max Eugene "Gene" Baggett.

Poland has been arrested and charged with one count felony murder, malice murder, burglary and financial card fraud. He is currently being held in the Hall County Jail without bond.

Baggett's wife discovered his body about 5 p.m. Thursday inside their Monroe Circle home. Strickland said investigators were still trying to determine whether Baggett knew his killer.

Authorities said earlier they believed that Baggett was killed by a gunshot to the head in a confrontation with an intruder inside his lakefront home off Duckett Mill Road.

Authorities identified Poland as a suspect Friday morning and determined on Saturday night that he likely was in Gwinnett County, Strickland said. A short time later, Hall County authorities spotted Poland, driving a 2007 Ford pickup on Ga. 317 at Interstate 85 in Suwanee and requested help from Gwinnett County Police.

Poland fled and led Gwinnett authorities on a chase that ended when he ran a red light and hit another car. The occupants of the car were not believed to be seriously injured, Strickland said.

Poland fled on foot and was captured by Hall County detectives and Gwinnett police behind a car wash on Ga. 317, Strickland said. Poland was brought to the Hall County Sheriff's Office for questioning.

Though Poland has been charged, Strickland said the case remains active and under investigation by Hall County authorities.

Strickland said Baggett had owned the property for more than 30 years before building the house as a retirement home less than two years ago. He had been in his yard planting plants Thursday and was last seen outside at about 11 a.m., Strickland said.

Strickland would not comment on whether any items were taken from Baggett's home. A loaded handgun belonging to Baggett was undisturbed in his closet and his car remained parked in the carport, Strickland said.



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