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Officials name slaying suspect

Man used West Hall retiree’s credit card, authorities say

POSTED: May 16, 2008 5:01 a.m.
For The Times/

Authorities arrested Donnie G. Poland just after 10 p.m. Saturday and charged him with one count of felony murder in the home invasion shooting death of a West Hall retiree.

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Authorities arrested Donnie G. Poland just after 10 p.m. Saturday and charged him with one count of felony murder in the home invasion shooting death of a West Hall retiree.

On Thursday afternoon, Hall County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at a home on Monroe Circle and discovered that 69-year-old Max Eugene "Gene" Baggett was killed by a gunshot to the head. Baggett’s wife had discovered his body at about 5 p.m. that day.

Hall County Sheriff’s Maj. Jeff Strickland said the incident appeared to be a burglary in which the homeowner was confronted by the intruder.

By Friday morning, authorities identified Poland as a suspect after reviewing credit card purchases made with Baggett’s card.

Strickland said Poland purchased various items at several different locations in Gainesville before being apprehended Saturday night.

The Hall County sheriff’s department teamed up with Gwinnett County police Saturday after determining that the suspect was likely in Gwinnett County. Hall County authorities soon spotted Poland driving a 2007 Ford pickup on Ga. 317 at Interstate 85 in Suwanee and called Gwinnett police to pursue Poland.

Poland led Gwinnett and Hall county authorities on an approximately 2-mile high-speed chase that ended when the suspect ran a red light and collided with a car carrying two passengers, authorities say. Poland fled from the crash by foot and was captured by Hall County detectives and Gwinnett police.

Strickland said Poland was taken into custody, questioned and booked into the Hall County Jail without further incident.

Strickland said the two passengers of the vehicle with which Poland collided were taken to a Gwinnett County hospital but were not seriously injured.

Strickland said authorities found additional evidence on Poland that linked him to the crime, but a firearm has not been recovered.

In addition to one count of felony murder, Poland has been charged with malice murder, burglary and financial card fraud. Poland will also face multiple traffic charges. He is currently being held in the Hall County Jail without bond.

Strickland said 12 Hall County investigators have been working on the case since Thursday, and the case is still under investigation.



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