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Abbott pleads not guilty to in-laws’ murder


Ben Thomas Abbott pled not guilty to murdering his wife’s parents in February of this year, during a routine arraignment in Pickens Superior Court last week.

The state has filed notice they intend to seek the death penalty for Abbot, who is charged with murdering Raymond and Cythina Campbell with a shotgun at their home on Long Swamp Church Road. According to the testimony of a GBI agent during a February pre-trial hearing, Abbott confessed to killing his in-laws, hoping to make the slayings look like a robbery, so he could collect on life insurance polices. He told the GBI agent that he, his wife and their four children were going to lose their home.

Last week, the court also addressed the “unified appeal checklist.” This 40-page list of conditions applies to all capital cases in Georgia.

District Attorney Joe Hendricks said the unified appeal checklist is standard procedure to remind both the prosecution and defense of potential issues with capital cases.

Hendricks called the arraignment and first proceeding under the capital procedures to be typical for this type of case.

“It was exactly as you would expect under these circumstances,” he said.

Next, the prosecution will provide its case files to the defense under discovery procedures. Abbott, an Ellijay resident at the time of the slayings, is being represented by Jerry Ward from the Georgia Capital Defender office.

Following discovery, the defense will have 60 days to file motions.  The motions will probably be heard in January.


Chronology of other stories:

 Two Dead in Home Invasion-- February 9, 2011

Son in Law Arrested in Double Murder Wednesday --   February 9, 2011

Son in Law confessed to GBI agent in double murder case, according to first court hearing-- February 11, 2011

Death Penalty Sought for Ben Thomas Abbott -- June, 15, 2011 print edition for full story 

Abbott pleads not guilty to in-laws’ murder September 2011

Abbott shows no remorse -- reprint from Times Courier

Hiking trails on Burnt Mountain open

Above, members of the Mountain Stewards trail crew at a bridge they constructed in the Burnt Mountain Preserve. The Stewards have recently completed three new hiking trails on the county-owned property.


The public is invited to attend the grand opening celebration for three new hiking trails at the Burnt Mountain Preserve, all recently completed by the Mountain Stewards.

Next Friday, Sept. 23, at 10 a.m. the county will hold its grand opening celebration at the trailhead kiosk, located on the right side of Hwy 136 East headed toward the Dawson County line. The kiosk is located just before the first overlook.

Gas prices drop slightly in past week

Georgia, September 12- Average retail gasoline prices in Georgia have fallen 3.4 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.52/g yesterday. This compares with the national average that has fallen 0.1 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.66/g, according to gasoline price website

Including the change in gas prices in Georgia during the past week, prices yesterday were 98.0 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 2.5 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has increased 5.1 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 93.3 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

"Late last week we started to see a drop in wholesale gasoline prices, which is the price stations pay. Such news means the national average may begin moving lower," said Patrick DeHaan, Senior Petroleum Analyst. "While I'm hopeful we'll start to see lower retail gasoline prices in the days ahead, we have seen considerable volatility and I'd hate to see the market move higher in the days ahead, negating any expected drop in retail prices," DeHaan adds.

About operates over 200 live gasoline price-tracking websites, including was named one of Time magazine's 50 best websites and to PC World's 100 most useful websites of 2008.

Mr. and Miss PHS Court named


Photo/Sarah Alexander - staff reporter for the Dragons' Lair News


Every year, the Pickens High School seniors choose among themselves ten young men and ten young women to represent the school. This year the Mr. and Miss PHS court (l-r) Sam Crawford, Katie Tippens, Mason Mullins, Tiffany Stone, Brooke Smith, Griff Montgomery, Bryce Odom, Aries Johnson, Mindi Mullins, Wesley Easterwood, Levi Wood, Amber Hester, Sawyer Henderson, Emma Fox, Austin Murphy, Megan Dixon, Spencer Jones, Carly Culverhouse, Jake Ledbetter, Jesslyn Chastain. Mr and Miss Pickens High are are Jake Ledbetter and Emma Fox. See complete story on page 12A of this week’s print edition.




Homeschool band needs instruments

If you have a band instrument collecting dust or in the back of a closet, please consider donating it to North Georgia Homeschool Band.

Your donation could help to provide a music education for a young student.North Georgia Homeschool Band meets every Friday afternoon at Reinhardt University's Falany Performing Arts Center.For donations or more information contact Maggie Shaw at 770-313-0061 or go to