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September 25, 2018 - 12:00 am

KIDNAPPING-SLAYING

Men avoid death penalty in kidnap-slaying of couple

ATLANTA (AP) — Two Georgia men have been sentenced to consecutive life terms in prison for kidnapping and killing a pregnant woman and her fiance.

News outlets report 44-year-old Andre Cleveland Gay and 46-year-old Richard "Fathead" Wilson pleaded guilty Monday to kidnapping and killing 21-year-old Briana Brooks and 23-year-old Jeronta Brown.

Authorities say the couple was kidnapped for ransom one night in August 2014. The district attorney's office says they were later found handcuffed together with gunshot wounds to their heads. Brooks was seven-months pregnant and survived long enough to give birth.

The men met in prison and were out on parole at the time of the execution-style slaying. Prosecutors had said they would seek the death penalty and that the men have killed at least seven people in Fulton County alone.

AP-US-SONIC-ACQUISITION

Inspire Brands buys Sonic burger chain for $2.3 billion

ATLANTA (AP) — Arby's owner Inspire Brands is buying the Sonic drive-in hamburger chain.

Inspire is paying $43.50 per share cash, or $2.3 billion, for Sonic, which has 3,600 restaurants in the U.S. Inspire expects the deal to close by the end of this year.

Sonic will operate as a separate business unit within Inspire and remain based in Oklahoma City. The first Sonic opened in Oklahoma in 1953.

Inspire says Sonic's management team will also remain in place.

Sonic earned $63.7 million in its 2017 fiscal year, which ended Aug. 31. That was down slightly from the previous two years.

Atlanta-based Inspire was formed earlier this year when Arby's acquired the Buffalo Wild Wings chain.

Inspire said Tuesday owning multiple chains will help it share resources, including customer loyalty data and suppliers.

ETHICS INVESTIGATIONS-GEORGIA TECH

Report: Georgia Tech is slow on ethics investigations

(Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com)

ATLANTA (AP) — A newspaper says Georgia Tech University takes longer than most schools in the state to investigate ethics complaints.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Georgia Tech takes the second-longest of any school in the University System of Georgia to review employee complaints about ethics abuses or conflict of interest violations.

The newspaper reported Georgia Tech took an average of 102 days to investigate complaints last year. That's longer than any school except Savannah State University, which averages 135 days.

The average time for schools in Georgia was 48 days.

Georgia Tech had the most complaints last year, with 85. Georgia Tech officials said in a statement to the newspaper that they've had trouble clearing the backlog in investigating some complaints and need to do better.

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ILLINOIS-TRANSPORTATION AWARD

Temporary bridge during I-55 and Lake Shore work wins award

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A temporary bridge used during reconstruction of the interchange at Interstate 55 and Lake Shore Drive in Chicago has earned Illinois a national transportation award.

The grand prize in the 2018 America's Transportation Awards was announced Monday at the annual meeting of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials in Atlanta.

The Illinois Department of Transportation devised a temporary bridge for inbound I-55 traffic exiting southbound on Lake Shore Drive. Officials say it reduced delays by avoiding extended enclosures and detours.

Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn says the project "represents IDOT's enthusiasm and commitment" to maintaining safe transportation while finding "creative solutions" to problems.

The project was selected from 79 nominations from 35 states.

It comes with a $10,000 charitable contribution which IDOT will make to the Special Olympics .

GEORGIA POWER-NUCLEAR PLANT-THE LATEST

The Latest: Georgia nuclear plant gets tentative up vote

ATLANTA (AP) — The nation's only major nuclear power plant under construction appears to still be alive after the owners voted to push forward despite another multibillion-dollar cost overrun.

But Oglethorpe Power says they're only willing to move forward with the construction of two new reactors at the Vogtle nuclear power plant near Waynesboro, Georgia if cost-control measures are implemented.

It is unclear how the other utilities that own a stake in the project will respond to the conditions.

The Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and Georgia Power, the other two primary owners of the project, had previously said they're willing to move forward.

The project is billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.

A similar project in South Carolina died in July 2017 when the V.C. Summer plant was abandoned after going billions of dollars over budget.

WATERBED REVIVAL

Waterbed promoters trying to revive industry with new focus

TAMARAC, Fla. (AP) — Waterbeds still elicit a wink, wink, nudge, nudge whenever they come up in conversation. But two pioneers of the industry in the United States are hoping to generate a new wave of popularity for the old furniture concept by using a wholesome new pitch.

Inventor Charles Hall and City Furniture CEO Keith Koenig are promoting the new Afloat mattress with a focus on comfort and support, not sex. In the City Furniture showroom in Tamarac, Florida, a sign promises Afloat mattresses are "not your parents' waterbed."

The new mattresses range in price from about $2,000 to $3,300. The promoters are replacing product names such as The Pleasure Pit and Pleasure Island for the sober-sounding Firm and Pure models.

NUDE MAN-STABBING

Police answering call about naked man find stabbing victims

COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) — Police responding to a call about a nude man running through a neighborhood in southwestern Georgia discovered three people who had been stabbed, one fatally.

WTVM-TV reports the violence occurred Monday morning in a neighborhood in Columbus.

Police Maj. J.D. Hawks says officers got a call about a person running around naked. He says the man allegedly went inside a home and stabbed tree elderly people, one of whom died.

Two victims and the suspect were taken to a hospital, and police say the man will be arrested once he is released.

Authorities haven't released the names of the suspect or the victims, at least one of whom was more than 90 years old.

MURDER CONVICTION REVERSED

Georgia high court tosses murder conviction, life sentence

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia's highest court has reversed a man's murder conviction and life sentence, saying the trial court shouldn't have allowed the jury to hear a statement he made during interrogation.

A Georgia Supreme Court opinion published Monday says Michael Denay Grant had already "unequivocally invoked his right to remain silent" when he made the statement.

Grant was convicted in the 2013 slaying of Christopher Walker.

The statement exonerated Grant's cousin, who was also present, but also "arguably" incriminated Grant.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard's office says it plans to retry Grant.

The high court upheld the conviction and life-without-parole sentence of Richard Davidson, who was accused of fatally shooting Walker. Grant told police he drove the car in which Davidson fled.

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