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Tennessee Valley News Week in Review 1/5/2024

Catch up on the biggest news about people, places, events and activities happening in Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley
Catch up on the biggest news about people, places, events and activities happening in Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley

Catch up on the week's biggest stories about people, places, events and activities happening in Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley.

The Morgan County District Attorney says a former Decatur Police Officer has been charged with murder in connection with the shooting death of Stephen Perkins. In a news conference Friday morning, DA Scott Anderson said former officer Mac Bailey Marquette, 23, of Hartselle has been charged with murder for the shooting of Perkins. The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office said Marquette was taken into custody by Sheriff Ron Puckett as he turned himself in at the Morgan County Jail on Thursday evening. WHNT TV reports He was booked on a Grand Jury warrant for murder with a bond set at $30,000. Marquette was one of four officers disciplined by Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling on Dec. 7 for the shooting death of Perkins. At the time, Bowling said he had terminated three officers and suspended a fourth.

Montgomery County Circuit Judge James Anderson issued a temporary restraining order Wednesday to stop the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission from issuing licenses to integrated companies. That was scheduled to happen on Jan. 9. The court order and the issues raised by unsuccessful license applicants raise new doubts about when the commission can issue the licenses needed to start the state’s new medical marijuana industry. That effort has been stalled now for six months. Anderson noted the need to move the process along and get medications to patients. Twice before, in June and in August, the commission has awarded and then rescinded license awards. AL.com reports the judge also acknowledged the arguments by companies scheduled to receive licenses and that oppose further delays. But he said the legal questions justify another pause.

A panel of United Nations experts “expressed alarm” yesterday over Alabama’s planned execution of a death row inmate later this month by nitrogen hypoxia. Kenneth Eugene Smith is set to be executed Jan. 25 by the practice, which the panel called “an untested method of execution which may subject him to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or even torture.” AL.com reports Smith would be the first inmate executed by nitrogen hypoxia, which the Alabama Legislature approved in 2018 but that no state has ever used. The expert panel called on state and federal authorities to halt the execution, pending a review of procedures.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates Alabama is one of seven states in the country that is reporting “very high” flu activity. Dr. Donald Williamson, president and CEO of the Alabama Hospital Association, tells WSFA TV in Montgomery, laxity in respiratory hygiene, such as hand-washing, mask-wearing and staying away from others while sick, is partially to blame. Hospitalizations are considered seasonably normal for this time of year, but Williamson said that could change soon, as people are returning to school and work from the holidays, expecting higher activity, hospitalizations and possibly a second strain known as influenza B. He says Alabamians should get vaccinated, and influenza vaccines are recommended for everybody six months of age and older.

Huntsville’s new hands-free ordinance is now in effect. It will prohibit motorists from holding any wireless telecommunications device while operating a vehicle. Law enforcement can now treat a handheld wireless communication device violation as a primary instead of a secondary offense. In the first six months of 2024, the City will join Huntsville Police and other agencies to educate the community about the ordinance without issuing citations. First responders will hand out prepared materials with information on the law to drivers during that time. When the six-month grace period is over, drivers who violate the law may receive a citation issued by a Huntsville Police officer.

There’s a new law in effect designed to improve how law enforcement interacts with people who have sensory needs or invisible disabilities. It requires law enforcement to complete specific training. Rep. Leigh Hulsey sponsored the law and called it the Cade Noah Act after her autistic son. WSFA TV in Montgomery reports every member of law enforcement will become Sensory Inclusive Certified through the Alabama-based company KultureCity. Dr. Julian Maha co-founded KultureCity to teach law enforcement how to interact with someone with sensory needs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention one in four people has a disability.