2012's top local stories
by Staff
Dec 31, 2012 | 5800 views |  0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Clockwise, from left: Nick Saban celebrates Alabama's SEC title in December. (Photo: Bill Wilson) Authorities examine the scene where Romero Roberto Moya crashed a hijacked car and was shot dead by Oxford police in December. (Photo: Bill Wilson) Kyle Mann rides the newly opened Coldwater Mountain biking trails in May. (Photo: Stephen Gross) Anniston's new City Council prepares for inauguration in November. (Photo: Trent Penny) Pappy Dunn, who died in August after a lifetime of service as an educator and elected official. (File photo: Stephen Gross)
Clockwise, from left: Nick Saban celebrates Alabama's SEC title in December. (Photo: Bill Wilson) Authorities examine the scene where Romero Roberto Moya crashed a hijacked car and was shot dead by Oxford police in December. (Photo: Bill Wilson) Kyle Mann rides the newly opened Coldwater Mountain biking trails in May. (Photo: Stephen Gross) Anniston's new City Council prepares for inauguration in November. (Photo: Trent Penny) Pappy Dunn, who died in August after a lifetime of service as an educator and elected official. (File photo: Stephen Gross)
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Below are some of the biggest stories covered by The Star’s staff in 2012, as chosen by our editors. How would you order them differently? What would you include that’s not listed here?

1. Cleburne County man kills brothers, leads police on chase, killed by officers after two shootouts, wrecks

On Dec. 15, investigators believe, Romero Roberto Moya, 33, killed his three brothers and injured his 19-month-old son, then pursued his fleeing wife before encountering police and a deputy in Heflin. He fired an assault rifle at the officers, then fled. Authorities chased Moya to Oxford, where he crashed his car, and fired again at officers, injuring Heflin officer Jackie Stovall. Moya hijacked another car and fled again. Police caught up to him in Coldwater, where he crashed again. He was shot dead by Oxford police as he stepped out of the crashed car, allegedly reaching for the assault rifle. Stovall and the 19-month-old boy are recovering from gunshot wounds.

2. Voters clean house in Anniston municipal election; Stewart wins outright in field of 11 mayoral candidates

After a fractious four years in city politics, voters in August sent packing the remaining members of the Anniston City Council elected in 2008. Vaughn Stewart surprised many by winning more than 50 percent of the vote for mayor in a field of 11 candidates. Three-term incumbents Herbert Palmore and Ben Little were defeated by wide margins, as was incumbent Mayor Gene Robinson, who finished eighth in the mayoral race. The new council - Millie Harris, Jay Jenkins, David Reddick and Seyram Selase, along with Stewart - took office in November amid displays of unity, jointly taking the inaugural oath onstage at Anniston High School before a banner that read “One City, One Vision.”

In Oxford, voters elected Mayor Leon Smith to an eighth term leading the fast-growing city.

3. Educator, leader James A. “Pappy” Dunn, dies

In August, Calhoun County lost James A. “Pappy” Dunn, who’d served 24 years as a Calhoun County commissioner. Before that, he’d already performed a lifetime’s worth of work as a principal and teacher at Calhoun County Training School, later the C.E. Hanna School, and state president of the Alabama Education Association. He was remembered as a fair and dedicated educator, and as a soft-spoken leader who helped bring people together.

4. Back to the BCS for Bama

Alabama’s football team - with just one blemish on an otherwise perfect season - won the SEC title and a repeat trip to the national title game. With a win in the BCS title game on Jan. 7, Alabama’s coach Nick Saban will have won three national championships over four years.

5. Coldwater Mountain bike trails open

In June, state and local officials joined with the Northeast Alabama Bicycle Association to formally open the first mountain trails atop Coldwater Mountain. Over six years, more than 60 miles of trail will be developed on the 4,000 acres of protected Forever Wild property.

6. Judge dismisses charges against sheriff and jailer

In July, a federal judge dismissed most of the charges in a civil rights lawsuit against Calhoun County Sheriff Larry Amerson and deputy Wendell Ward, and in August the judge dismissed the last remaining charge. Anniston resident Stacy Brown had filed the suit in 2011, claiming the two had mistreated her then-14-year-old son in an incident at the Calhoun County Jail in April of that year. The incident, seen in security camera footage acquired by The Star, shows the sheriff using manual force against the boy, who was restrained at the time.

In his final judgment dismissing the case, Judge Robert B. Propst said there was no evidence the boy had suffered physical harm in the incident.

7. Criminal indictments, lawsuit stem from alleged hazing by JSU fraternity

Authorities have so far charged at least 13 men in connection with an alleged incident of hazing in 2011 by members of a Jacksonville State University fraternity. Officials say others have been indicted by a grand jury since October, but not yet charged. The charges include felony assault and misdemeanor hazing. The fraternity, JSU’s chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, has been dismissed from the campus. A lawsuit filed in July by one of the alleged victims in the case says he and others were beaten savagely and forced to drink unsafe amounts of alcohol.

8. DeQuirea Royal killed in Anniston apartment

On Good Friday, April 6, 24-year-old DeQuirea Royal was found dead in her Constantine Homes apartment. Police said she’d been shot in the head. She was a sergeant in an Army National Guard unit based in Oxford, and had been planning for a June deployment to Afghanistan. Later in April, police charged Kenmonte Jacobe Winsley, 23, with murder in connection with her death. In November, police charged a second man, Demontae Antwon Jones, 25, with murder in the case.

9. City offices locked down as former police officer wanted in wife’s death flees state

On July 23, 41-year-old Carmella Boyd was found dead at her Saks home. Police began looking for her husband, Fred Boyd, a 44-year-old former police officer, in connection with her death and with a non-fatal shooting that day in Hobson City. Fearing he’d use violence against police or city leaders, officials locked down City Hall and the Police Department and posted armed guards. Boyd was arrested later that day after turning himself in at a police station in Mississippi. He was indicted by a grand jury in October on charges of murder and attempted murder. He was still being held in the Calhoun County Jail this week awaiting trial.

10. Body found in Piedmont is that of woman missing since 2009

Investigators acting on a tip Dec. 4 found a human skeleton in a wooded area south of Piedmont known as “the brickyard.” Days later it was later announced the remains belonged to Carla Michelle Cook Fuqua, who’d gone missing in October 2009 at age 28. Her body was found just two miles from the home she shared with her mother. The Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate Cook’s death as a homicide.

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