On the Thursday, Oct.19 edition of Georgia Today: There is a plea deal for one of the defendants in the 2020 election interference racketeering case; West Georgia congressman Drew Ferguson says he has received death threats after casting his vote for Speaker of the House; and the fall colors are here and, in some places in Georgia, they're almost gone. 

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Orlando Montoya: Hello and welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Thursday, Oct. 19. I'm Orlando Montoya, sitting in for Peter Biello today. On today's episode, there is a plea deal for one of the defendants in the 2020 election interference racketeering case. West Georgia congressman Drew Ferguson says he has received death threats after casting his vote for Speaker of the U.S. House. And the fall colors are here. And in some places in Georgia, they're almost gone. These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.

Attorney Sidney Powell speaks at a press conference on election results in Alpharetta, Georgia, U.S., December 2, 2020. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage


Story 1:

Orlando Montoya: A former attorney for Donald Trump, has taken a plea deal with prosecutors in Georgia's 2020 election interference. Racketeering case chief Stephen Fowler has the details on today's guilty plea by Attorney Sidney Powell.

Stephen Fowler: Powell faced racketeering charges and several other conspiracy charges for her role in organizing an effort that illegally copied election data from Coffee County in 2021. In Fulton County Court, she pleaded guilty to six misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to commit intentional interference with election duties. She'll serve six years of probation, pay a $6,000 fine, and $2,700 in restitution to cover the cost of replacing Coffee County's elections equipment. She also agreed to testify in future trials, but not have to face her own. As of now, jury selection will still move forward for defendant Kenneth Chesebro, who requested a speedy trial and hasn't yet taken a plea deal. For GPB News, I'm Stephen Fowler.


Story 2:

Orlando Montoya: The attorney representing the family of a Black man shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy during a traffic stop in Southeast Georgia's Camden County on Monday says he's troubled by police videos of the incident. GPB's Benjamin Payne has that story.

Benjamin Payne: Prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump says police dash cam and body cam footage show Leonard Cure being triggered by post-traumatic stress disorder, specifically after Camden County Sheriff's Deputy Buck Aldridge tells Cooper he is being placed under arrest for speeding over 100 miles per hour on Interstate 95. Crump says Cure experienced PTSD from having been wrongfully sentenced to more than 16 years in Florida prison for armed robbery before being exonerated in 2020. He also says Aldridge, who is white, did not try to de-escalate the situation.

Ben Crump: When you see escalation, met with escalation from both individuals, that never leads to anything good.

Benjamin Payne: Aldridge previously worked as an officer for the Kingsland Police Department until he was fired in 2017 for excessive force. For GPB News, I'm Benjamin Payne.

U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson of Georgia

Republican U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson represents Georgia's 3rd Congressional District.

Credit: U.S. House Office of Photography

Story 3:

Orlando Montoya: The Georgia congressman who flipped his vote for U.S. House speaker from Jim Jordan to another candidate yesterday says he did so because of bullying tactics by the pro-Jordan crowd. West Georgia Republican Drew Ferguson, from The Rock in Upson County, said this morning his vote for Steve Scalise was followed by death threats. Ferguson's comments mirror concerns expressed by other U.S. House members about the pressure campaign deployed to put the gavel in the hands of Jordan, a hard-fighting, far-right ally of former President Donald Trump. Jordan this afternoon said he would push ahead with a third ballot to become speaker after losing support, including from Ferguson, between the first and second ballots.


Story 4:

Orlando Montoya: People experiencing domestic violence are less likely to leave their abuser and seek shelter if they can't bring their pets with them. One domestic violence shelter in Albany is the latest to address this issue. GPB's Sofi Gratas has more.

Sofi Gratas: Less than 10 domestic violence shelters in Georgia currently allow people to bring their pets. Liberty House of Albany, a 21-bed, domestic violence shelter and crisis line provider will soon be added to that list. It's building three new pet retreats — rooms where residents can house their pets on site. Katie Campbell is with RedRover, one nonprofit funding the project as part of a nationwide effort to make 25% of U.S. shelters pet-friendly.

Katie Campbell: I think the really great thing about becoming pet-friendly is, yes, we remove a barrier to safety and service, but it's also just a huge benefit to that healing process. And it's a huge benefit to the organization themselves.

Sofi Gratas: Because the majority of domestic violence survivors have reported that pets provide valuable emotional support. For GPB News, I'm Sofi Gratas.

Story 5:

Orlando Montoya: A federal court has denied Georgia's attempts to block a fast-approaching trial challenging the state's redistricting maps. Lawyers for the state were unable to convince a three-judge panel to toss out a pair of cases in an order released on Tuesday. Both cases center on arguments by Black voters that Republican-drawn maps illegally thwart their ability to elect representatives of their choice. The cases are being closely watched because they could alter the balance of political power, both statewide and nationally. One of the cases is scheduled to be tried next month, on the heels of a nearly two-week redistricting trial held last month.


Story 6:

Orlando Montoya: Georgia's electric membership cooperatives are getting $250 million in federal grants for grid improvements and clean energy projects. U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced the grants yesterday at a ceremony in Locust Grove, south of Atlanta. The Georgia grants are part of what Granholm called the largest-ever federal investment in grid infrastructure, $3.5 billion across the nation. Four Georgia EMCs partnered with the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority on the grants, which are aimed at strengthening energy infrastructure in rural and underserved communities across the state.


Story 7:

Orlando Montoya: Georgia's deer hunting firearms season begins Saturday, sending a little extra cash to many rural parts of the state. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources says there are about 800,000 hunters in Georgia and they spend nearly $1 billion on retail equipment. Agency deer biologist Charlie Killmaster says that's just the beginning of the season's economic impact.

Charlie Killmaster: Driving to a new destination to hunt, to go to a hunt club or a lease or something like that, you're going to potentially stay in a hotel, eat in local restaurants. Some of these smaller towns really depend on the — the influx of hunters that come in to an area to hunt in a given year for the extra revenue that it brings in.

Orlando Montoya: Killmaster says there are only a few changes between this season and the last one, including a slight expansion of the days in which does may be taken. The season will last until the second Sunday in January.


Story 8:

Orlando Montoya: It's mid-October and Georgians are getting ready for sweater weather, along with carving pumpkins and sipping spiced lattes. Leaf watching is a favorite autumn activity. And if you're looking for those peak fall colors, get ready. They are coming. In fact, they've already come and passed in four Northeast Georgia counties. That's according to the Smoky Mountain Fall foliage map, which you can link to from our story on fall foliage at GPB.org/news. The predictor isn't exact, and the Georgia Forestry Commission says predicting peak color is always a challenge since so much of it depends on weather and microclimates. But the map shows most of North Georgia will have partial peak color this weekend with three counties in peak and, as I said, four counties post-peak. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources also regularly updates its Leaf Watch page, which, by the way, also curates some really beautiful photos from Georgia's fall colors each year. I hope you get out and enjoy the season.

And that's it for today's edition of Georgia Today. Visit our website, GPB.org/news to keep up with the latest news from around Georgia. Many of the stories we talk about on the podcast are there in a lot more detail. Also, hit subscribe on that Georgia Today podcast. That'll help you to keep us current in your feed. And if you have feedback, we'd love to hear that as well. Our email address is GeorgiaToday@GPB.org. I'm Orlando Montoya. Thanks for listening.


For more on these stories and more, go to GPB.org/news.

Read the latest updates on the Georgia indictments here.