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Badge and Bar: Police give more details in Murrayville man's death
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Gainesville police offered a few more details into the search and chase of a Murrayville man who was found in the woods with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head on Nov. 19.

Joshua Semon, 24, ran from a traffic stop after police attempted to pull him over on the 800 block of Jesse Jewell Parkway.

Before a foot chase took them into the woods, officers saw Semon with another person at the nearby America’s Best Value Inn, said police spokesman Cpl. Kevin Holbrook.

“The subject jumped off the second-floor balcony, and police determined it was the same subject who shot himself,” Holbrook said.

Police followed Semon into the woods until hearing a single gunshot, and retreated to the perimeter.

Using forward-looking infrared systems, police located the body in the dark, densely wooded area, Holbrook said.

Semon was dead when officers found him. Holbrook said Semon had drugs on him.

Hall County Coroner Marion G. Merck said depending on the circumstances — whether a note was left, for example — suicides are not investigated. However, whenever there is police involvement, the medical examiner will conduct an investigation.

Findings have not yet been released, Merck said.

Police have not released the cause for the initial traffic stop.

Semon did have active warrants in the county, Holbrook said.

He had faced prior criminal accusations and convictions in Hall County.

In August 2012, he was sentenced to seven years on felony theft counts, with six months to serve in jail.

He pleaded guilty to DUI of drugs, fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer and several traffic charges in May, and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft in June.

As to what drove Semon to suicide, “that may be something we never know,” Holbrook said.

Holbrook said police will release more information in the investigation as it becomes available.

Lilburn man on trial in copper theft acquitted

A man accused of stealing copper wiring from a Gainesville home was acquitted Wednesday in Hall County Superior Court.

Gary Sewell, 31, of Lilburn was charged with burglary and two counts related to criminal damage of property in the November 2011 theft of copper wiring from a home off McEver Road.

Presentation of evidence to jurors began Tuesday, and they returned their verdict Wednesday afternoon.

Sewell’s attorney, Grace Akan with the public defender’s office, said a nearly $4,000 water bill alerted the homeowner that something was amiss at his rental home — the force of ripping out the copper pipping had left the water running.

Akan said the case pitted family members against one another, with the placement of blame between brothers.
“There was a lot of interfamily conflict,” she said.

The prosecutor in the case, Assistant District Attorney Bill Akins, filed a recidivist notice, upping a conviction to carry a 45-year sentence, Akan said.

For defendants with a criminal record, recidivist punishment guidelines can be pursued at the prosecution’s discretion.

Akins could not be reached Wednesday evening for comment.

Emma Witman covers public safety issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with her:


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