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Posted: October 4, 2009 12:01 a.m.

King, Casola not indicted by grand jury

NAACP says matter not resolved

 A Newton County grand jury decided Friday not to return any indictments in the case against Stephanie Casola and Anita King who were accused of disrupting the funeral of Lanny Barnes on July 2.

 The Barnes family accused Anita King and Stephanie Casola of disruptive conduct at a funeral service, criminal trespass and unlawful placement of signs. The actions came after the death of Lanny Barnes, who was convicted of killing King’s daughter and Casola’s niece, 2-year-old Avery Nicole, after running her over with his car outside of an area McDonald’s in May of 2006. Barnes had been in prison serving his sentence on those charges when he died.

 According to a media release from the office of the district attorney, "after considering all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the events of July 2, 2009, the date of Lanny Barnes’ funeral, as well as the applicable law, the grand jury decided not to return indictments in the case. As far as the State of Georgia is concerned, this brings this matter to a close."

For the Barnes family, who had contacted the NAACP about the situation alleging their civil rights had been violated, the situation is not over despite the grand jury’s decision, according to NAACP representative Edward DuBose.

"I have not been privy to any news concerning the grand jury decision not to indict however if this is the case we are outraged at this decision and we will immediately request that the district attorney place this matter before a second grand jury at which he has the power to do," DuBose said in an e-mail late Friday.

"In addition to the King and Casola family we demand that an investigation be launched into the police department as they contributed to the violation of the law by the King and Casola families. The Georgia State Conference contends that the civil rights of Ms. Manetta Clemons [sister of Lanny Barnes] and her family were violated also and we plan to pursue this with the U. S. Justice Department."

Prior to DuBose’s comment District Attorney Ken Wynne said "I really do hope that these families can move on from this and put this behind them. The grand jury considered all of the facts and circumstances and heard from Mrs. Manetta Clements [Barnes’ sister] and after considered not to return an indictment in the case."

DuBose said Avery’s death was a tragedy, but that justice not served was also a tragedy.

"We have always said that our prayers are with the tragic loss of life by these families," said DuBose. "However, to not indict sends a message that every citizen can take the law into their own hands and not worry about any repercussions."

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