Attorney McCracken Poston said over 1,000 people have signed a petition asking that the Catoosa County man who shot a 17-year-old who was allegedly stealing scrap metal from him be prosecuted.
Attorney Poston said in a letter to DA Buzz Franklin and Sheriff Gary Fisk on behalf of the family of Dalton McConathy:
Hon. District Attorney Herbert E. "Buzz" Franklin
Hon. Sheriff Gary Sisk
Re: McConathy Petition
Buzz and Gary,
Attached here please find the petition of well over a thousand Northwest Georgians who are making a sincere request of both of you in your official capacities (out of state residents who signed were not counted). As you know, because of my past representation of Bobby Joe McConathy, at the outset I recused myself from acting as Juvenile Court Judge in the related Juvenile Court matters to the issues here. I am sending you this on behalf of the family of Dalton McConathy, as well as the many thousands who support the proposition that a thorough investigation and prosecution is needed here.
While recent comments are correct, that a petition in and of itself should not be the impetus for a prosecution, you are also public officials who are arguably answerable to the citizens you represent. There are ample facts supporting the direction the petition pleads that you take, many you may not know and you may not yet be able to know due to Fifth Amendment issues of others you have chosen to aggressively prosecute. Nevertheless, there are ample facts to support the direction that the petition asks you to take. Perhaps with the use of limited immunity and other procedures you could get these facts.
The facts as we know them are this: Three young persons were on and near the property of Fred Youngblood on November 11, 2013. One of them, Dalton McConathy, was shot and killed by Mr. Youngblood, while Mr. Youngblood stood on a high deck completely above the children below. The trajectory of one of the bullets fired grazed the right earlobe of Dalton McConathy, age 17, before entering his body at his neck and shoulder and then going downward, indicating that the path of this shot came from the high deck directly above the child. Dalton was shot as he was trying to leave and plead to Youngblood not to shoot them. Because you are aggressively prosecuting the two witnesses who have no interest in a potential prosecution of Fred Youngblood, perhaps I have more facts than you do.
I have discovered at least three other persons who Mr. Youngblood has threatened to shoot, one who was looking for his lost cow, and two men who simply pulled off Post Oak Road to watch a flock of wild turkey cross the road onto the Youngblood property. Mr. Youngblood told one of the latter men not to think about coming on his property, and if he were to enter the "backside" of the property that they would be shot, for looking at turkeys. Had he shot any of these "trespassers" I think it would be difficult to not prosecute Mr. Youngblood, and many citizens are seeing no difference in the situation with Dalton McConathy.
I know that you both have ably responded to the duties of your offices, including the many times you have prosecuted my perennial client, and Dalton's father, Bobby Joe McConathy. I am going to ask you, Buzz, to consider recusing yourself due to the position you have often been put into to prosecute Bobby McConathy, if it in any way has biased your opinion in this tragedy regarding Dalton. You are also in an untenable position in prosecuting the two young people who were with Dalton on November 11, 2013. By taking the position that these young persons were perhaps putting themselves in the position for Mr.Youngblood to legally assault and kill them should disqualify you from the serious consideration of whether Mr. Youngblood was justified to embrace the "stand your ground" defense for the senseless killing of Dalton. There is a possibility you should consider, that the young people may have indeed been trespassing - but that Mr. Youngblood was still not justified in reacting in the manner that many in our community find to be quite rash and unjustified. You might even have a legal conflict under the law, one which you cannot bend the facts or ignore other facts in order to avoid.
Even the "stand your ground" law anticipates that a jury would make the decision of whether Youngblood's action was justified, not a prosecutor who is perhaps in an untenable position of conflict.
You have many times found reason to recuse your office from participating in the prosecution of a defendant. There are several reasons here.
There is ample reason to present the death of Dalton McConathy to a Catoosa County Grand Jury, as a presentment of the actions of Fred Youngblood. Judging from what your office has ushered through previous grand juries, there is comparatively plenty of circumstantial and direct evidence in this matter to justify a prosecution. Should you be unable to aggressively prosecute this issue, then that is another reason for you to recuse your office and allow an outside prosecutor to present the case to the Grand Jury with a request for a "true bill" of indictment, and then to prosecute Mr. Youngblood for the unjustified killing of young Dalton McConathy.
Despite a seeming disagreement in the newspaper, I approached our Sheriff just after the shooting to thank him for his guarded comments on the matter soon after Dalton's death. At that point, with Major Kelly Holcomb present, I was told by the Sheriff that he was planning to recommend to you to take the matter to the grand jury. I was thankful for something unexpectedly positive to take to the family of Dalton. The citizens who signed this petition are thankful to the Sheriff for taking that initial position, and hope that it is still his intention.
In the intervening weeks, Buzz, you suddenly had the second shooting of another "trespasser" - the tragic death in Walker County of Ronald Westbrook, the Alzheimer's patient - fall into your work. I cannot imagine that anyone envies you of the workload that your offices are under at this time. I am only asking, with over a thousand citizens in support of the proposition, that you either aggressively prosecute the killer of Dalton McConathy or step aside and allow an outside prosecutor to step in who can without conflict fully give this matter the full consideration and presentation it is due. Thank you for reviewing the petition and considering it.
Attorney for the McConathy Family