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Defendant indicted in home invasion slaying

POSTED: July 22, 2008 5:00 a.m.
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Donnie Poland

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A home invasion slaying suspect’s alleged spending spree with the dead man’s credit cards is outlined in a 23-count indictment returned by a Hall County grand jury this week.

Donnie Gene Poland, 41, was indicted on charges of murder, burglary, theft, financial card fraud and forgery in connection with the May 1 shooting death of 69-year-old retiree Max Eugene "Gene" Baggett.

Baggett was shot inside his Monroe Circle home near Duckett Mill Park after confronting a daytime intruder. Authorities believe Poland picked the home at random to burglarize.

The indictment alleges that Poland stole Baggett’s watch, a digital camera, a cell phone charger and a wallet containing at least nine credit cards, some of which were used on the day of and day after the shooting.

The cards were used to buy diesel fuel at a Quick Trip store, a pressure washer from The Home Depot, items at the Blue Ridge Bottle Shop and food at Church’s Fried Chicken and an Express Food store on the day Baggett was killed, according to the indictment.

On May 2, Baggett’s cards were used to buy two televisions at a Target store, boots and clothes at Viejo Oeste Western Wear, tires from 129 Tire Shop and a sofa at Gallery Furniture, according to the indictment. The indictment alleges that Poland signed the name "Max Baggett" to receipts.

According to testimony given during a May 23 preliminary hearing, a clerk at Gallery Furniture thought Poland and another man seemed suspicious when they bought the sofa and wrote down his license plate number, which helped provide a major break in the case.

Two other men, 28-year-old Nathan Rucker and 26-year-old Terromy Bailey, are charged in connection with the use of Baggett’s credit cards but are not suspects in the slaying.

Poland told an investigator he was strung out on crack cocaine and admitted to being outside the Baggett home on May 1 but said someone else shot him, according to testimony given during a May 23 committal hearing.

On Friday, Poland's lawyer said his client would plead not guilty to the charges.

Cumming attorney Jim Hardy has earlier said the evidence against his client is no stronger than the case against Rucker and Bailey.

"I’m wondering what evidence they had for the grand jury that they didn’t have at the committal hearing," Hardy said.

Grand jury hearings are held behind closed doors and a defendant’s lawyer is not allowed to attend. Three sheriff’s investigators were listed as witnesses on the indictment.

No arraignment date has been set in the case.



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