Prosecutor says 20-plus warrants may be taken out for teenage suspects

Dozens of additional charges likely for auto break-in ring

By JAMES SWIFT
Posted 12/31/69

Cherokee Judicial Circuit Judge Jeffrey A. Watkins denied a motion to set bond for a Dahlonega man accused of aggravated assault in Bartow Superior Court Thursday morning.Bartow County Sheriff’s …

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Prosecutor says 20-plus warrants may be taken out for teenage suspects

Dozens of additional charges likely for auto break-in ring

Posted
Cherokee Judicial Circuit Judge Jeffrey A. Watkins denied a motion to set bond for a Dahlonega man accused of aggravated assault in Bartow Superior Court Thursday morning.

Bartow County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) documents indicate 18-year-old defendant Austin Blake Smith is also currently facing two counts of entering an automobile with intent to commit theft or a felony, one count of being party to a crime and one count of receipt, possession or transfer of a firearm by a convicted felon or felony first offender.

BCSO records indicate the defendant has been held in pretrial detention at the Bartow County Jail since July 28, with the date of his alleged crimes listed as July 25.

Public defender Lora Alsher told the court she believes Smith is on probation in Gordon County, adding that the co-defendants in the case are ages 19, 17 and 16, respectively.

Cherokee Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Adam Wilkinson alleged the suspects traveled throughout Bartow County to break into vehicles. 

“One of the residents had been aware of break-ins happening, they were driving around suspiciously, so that resident called police and pulled out behind the defendant and his co-defendants in their vehicle and followed them while on the phone with law enforcement,” he told the court. “The defendants realized that they were being followed and proceeded to fire multiple shots from handguns at the victims while they were driving down the street.”

A BCSO incident report says the shooting occurred near Bramblewood Point. Investigators later recovered five shell casings near the intersection of Mission Road and Road 2 Southwest.

Wilkinson said Smith is already on probation for felony fleeing and eluding. He told Judge Watkins he believes the defendant is a flight risk, a risk to reoffend and at risk of intimidating witnesses if released from pretrial custody.

“I expect between 20-30 additional warrants for the various entering autos and trespassing and various other theft offenses related to this string of crimes,” he said.

Judge Watkins sided with the prosecution on the matter, citing “all the reasons stated by the State” in his ruling. 

“Unfortunately, they’re young people, but they’re committing adult crimes,” Wilkinson said. “They kind of went big early.”