A Flowery Branch man accused of assaulting a deputy was acquitted by a Hall County jury of the most serious violent felony on Friday, but convicted of felony obstruction.
Skyler Summerour, 24, was indicted by a Hall County grand jury in November on charges of aggravated assault on a peace officer, felony obstruction of officer and failure to maintain lane after allegedly pulling his handgun on a deputy attempting to speak with him. He was found not guilty on the traffic charge.
Accounts of the incident said Summerour pulled up to his home on Windfield Road and went inside, the deputy trailing him, and Summerour’s mother let the deputy inside.
But versions of the confrontation differed from there, with Summerour’s mother testifying at a bond hearing that the weapon was in her son’s hip holster but never in his hand.
Summerour’s attorney, Jed Carter, said sentencing has been scheduled for Tuesday before Judge Jason Deal.
Murder suspect’s mental competency under review
Attorneys for an Atlanta man implicated in a cold case killing from 2001 have reason to believe the defendant was insane at the time of the offense, according to a motion filed in February.
Daniel Lee Mason III, 40, remains incarcerated and mentally incompetent to stand trial after being arrested more than a year ago.
In December 2012, the Gainesville Police Department announced a suspect charged in connection with a violent attack was arrested in the murder of a Gainesville woman found dead 12 years ago.
The motion requests that the state’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities “determine whether or not the accused had the mental capacity to distinguish right from wrong in relation to the alleged act and whether or not the presence of a delusional compulsion overmastered the accused’s will to resist committing the alleged act.”
Mason was implicated in the homicide after Gainesville police were called the night of Dec. 5 to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to investigate an attack on a 39-year-old woman. He was then tied to the April 2001 death of Crystal Star Barnette, 37, through tying together the similarities in the cases, police said. The women in both cases were walking when they were attacked less than a city block from each other, and in both cases, police said the victim knew Mason, who grew up in Gainesville.
Mason was indicted in February 2013 on charges of malice murder, two counts of felony murder, aggravated assault and aggravated battery in the 2001 case, and attempted murder, aggravated assault, robbery by force, sexual battery, possession of cocaine and giving false information to an officer.
According to the arrest warrant, Mason killed Barnette by “beating her about the head with a wooden object.”
Mason entered a plea of not guilty in June before Superior Court Judge Bonnie Oliver.
In August, his attorney Senior Public Defender Larry Duttweiler submitted a motion for a mental examination “for the purposes of determining degree of criminal responsibility at the time of the act in question and necessity of treatment,” it read.
The motion said Mason had recurring mental problems including “numerous hallucinations” and “constant and reoccurring erratic and irrational thoughts and behaviors.”
The evaluation was prompted by “increasingly hostile, aggressive, threatening, and assaultive behavior toward others” paired with a claim that he “is or was an attorney.”
There’s no indication of if and when Mason might stand trial as he continues treatment and reviews under the court supervision of Judge Kathlene Gosselin, who oversees competency cases.
Fire officials ask residents to check alarms
The Hall County Fire Department is asking residents to check their smoke alarm batteries when they set their clocks forward this weekend for daylight saving time.
In a news release, Fire Marshal Scott Cagle cited a statistic from the National Fire Protection Association that almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties without working smoke alarms, and said a working smoke alarm significantly increases the chance of surviving a deadly home fire.
For alarms that use a 9-volt battery, it is recommended you change the battery when you change your clock, Cagle said. About one-quarter of all smoke alarms that are present in residences are not working due to a dead or missing battery.
“Hall County has experienced several fires where smoke alarms were either not present or not working, and the results could have been deadly,” he said. “It was simply by chance that the residents were not injured or killed.”
Alarms more than 10 years old should be replaced, Cagle said, and even long-lasting lithium batteries should be checked.
Other tips are to place smoke alarms inside and outside of sleeping areas and on every level of your home and to purchase interconnected alarms — if one sounds they all sound — if possible. Such alarms can be interconnected through wiring or over a wireless system.
Any questions concerning home fire safety measures can be directed to Hall County Fire Services by phone, 770-531-6838, or an email to Cagle at firstname.lastname@example.org or Lt. Beverley Walker at email@example.com.
Emma Witman covers public safety issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with her: