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Preliminary Hearing Date Set For Man Accused In Two-State Killing Spree

By William T. Martin

FAYETTEVILLE, Tenn–A preliminary hearing date has been set for a man accused of killing six people, including five in Tennessee and one in Alabama.
During a hearing in Lincoln County General Sessions Court Thursday morning, Judge Andy Myrick set November 11 as the date for Jacob Levi Shaffer to appear.
Shaffer is charged with five counts of murder in connection with the deaths of his wife, father-in-law, brother-in-law, step son, and a neighbor.
Shaffer is also accused of killing a man in Huntsville.
All six victims were discovered on Saturday, July 18.
The five Tennessee victims were found in two homes on South Lincoln Road near the Alabama state line.
Autopsy results indicated the five had been stabbed to death.
Investigators say Shaffer called 911 to report the crime and was waiting on the front porch of one of the homes when sheriff’s deputies arrived.
Shaffer is currently being held in a state prison in Nashville and did not appear in court.
17th Judicial Circuit Assistant Public Defender Jack Dearing represented Shaffer during the hearing.
Afterward he told reporters his office was “no stranger” to such cases, including those involving multiple murders. “We know what’s expected,” he said. “We do a lot of homicide cases.”
Dearing said when his office was given the case “we knew we had work to do.”
Dearing said after the preliminary hearing the case would likely go to a county grand jury. Following that, an arraignment date would be set before a Lincoln County circuit judge.
Prosecutors have not said whether they intend to seek the death penalty.
The Alabama victim, Sidney Wade Dempsey, was found at the Hall Marble Company on Orchard Street in north Huntsville.
Huntsville investigators think Shaffer killed Dempsey first, then got a ride to Lincoln County where he killed the others.
Police have not yet filed charges against Shaffer for the Huntsville killing.

Shelby Sends Message of Support to Augustine Commission

(From release) Senator Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), Ranking Member on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, today sent a letter to the Augustine Commission reiterating his support of Marshall Space Flight Center and NASA’s plans for manned space flight. The letter was read publicly by the Augustine Commission during its meeting today in Huntsville, Alabama to discuss NASA’s future.
Click below to read Shelby’s letter:

VIDEO REPORT: City Announces Funds For More Police, Firefighters

By William T. Martin

The City of Huntsville officially announced Wednesday that it was receiving $2.6 million in federal funds to hire new police officers and firefighters.
The announcement was made at the Public Safety West Precinct.

Griffith Sends Message Of Support For Ares To Augustine Commission Meeting Today In Huntsville

(From release) U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith was unavailable to attend today’s Augustine Commission meeting at NASA Space and Rocket Center. He did release this statement and a video:
Chairman Augustine and honored Committee Members, thank you for allowing me this opportunity to provide you with my thoughts on the future of our nation’s human space flight policy.

Four Facing Charges After Police Catch Them In Act Of Cooking Meth

By William T. Martin

Four area men are facing felony drug charges after sheriff’s deputies broke up a south Madison County meth lab during a cooking operation Tuesday morning.
According to a release from the MCSO and STAC Sgt. Mike Salomonski, New Hope police found a woman, identified as Niki Hornbuckle, 25, in front of a house at 224 Madison Lane. Ms. Hornbuckle said he had suffered a chemical burn and was concerned about children who may be inside the home.
Police and sheriff’s deputies entered the house and found four men in the act of cooking meth.

Stimulus Benefit: Huntsville To Receive $2.6 Million For New Police Officers

(From release) The City of Huntsville received word today that it had received more than $2.6 million dollars in stimulus funding for 15 additional police officer positions.
The official announcement is set for Wednesday at the Public Safety Complex on Wheeler Avenue.
Mayor Battle said: “We’ve always been proud of the outstanding job our men and women in uniform do – and with the recent announcement of the SAFER grant for fire fighters and the $2.6 million dollars in stimulus funds for police, we are keeping with our commitment to put more police and fire fighters on our streets.”

Northside Square Area To Close Wednesday Morning

(From (release) BEGINNING WEDNESDAY, JULY 29, 2009 @ 8:00 A.M.

Pinhook Creek To Get Funding

(From release) Congressman Parker Griffith announced today that Pinhook Creek is one step closer to receiving funding to provide for channel and flood plain improvements. H.R. 3183, the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act of 2010, passed the United States House of Representatives last week by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 320-97.

Blackhawk Lifts Off For Return To Arsenal

By William T. Martin

An Army Blackhawk helicopter that made an unscheduled landing near Whitesburg Baptist Church across from Byrd Spring Road has lifted off and is heading back to Redstone Arsenal.
Reporters at the scene watched as the copter idled on the ground for several minutes then lifted off at 4:50 p.m.
The aircraft first landed around noon after a warning light indicated a possible problem within.
No injuries were reported.
Army officials said that a maintenance crew would check the copter, make needed adjustments or repairs, then the crew would fly the aircraft back to Redstone.
A flight test was done on the copter for about 30 minutes to check all systems before the return flight.

VIDEO REPORT: Army Helicopter Makes "Precautionary" Landing Off South Memorial Parkway

By William T. Martin
An Army Blackhawk helicopter made a “precautionary” landing in a field in south Huntsville around noon Monday after a warning indicator came on in the cockpit.
According to Redstone Public Affairs Officer Sofia Bledsoe and reports from the scene, the copter was conducting what was called a routine test flight when a light in the cockpit signaled a potential problem.
The pilot, CW4 Adam Cowan, said he contacted the control tower and said he had a problem with the aircraft and needed to land “as soon as possible.”
Bledsoe said it is standard operating procedure in such a situation to land the aircraft safely, but quickly.
Initial reports said the aircraft had crashed however emergency crews arriving on the scene quickly determined this was not the case.
“This definitely is not a crash…it’s a very safe landing and they did it expertly,” said Bledsoe.
She added a maintenance crew was headed to the landing site to examine the copter and make any needed repairs before the aircraft was flown back to Redstone.
The aircraft landed in a field adjacent to Whitesburg Baptist Church and just north of Byrd Spring Road.
Police had closed off the area to keep bystanders and reporters at a distance.
In addition to the pilot, the others on board were identified as CW4 Dave Kern and crew chief Doug Study.
No injuries were reported.

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