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Now it’s murder

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By Patrick Yost editor

A teen’s aggravated battery and aggravated assault charges will likely be upgraded to murder after the victim died. According to Madison Police Chief Bill Ashburn, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation autopsy on the body of Willie Paul Russell, 52, showed that Russell death was a “homicide due to complications of blunt force trauma caused by assault.” Russell died on November 23. He was attacked on April 12, allegedly by Tavories Dominic Anderson who was 16-years-old at the time. Anderson was indicted at the September Morgan County Grand Jury on one count of aggravated assault and three counts of aggravated battery in the April 12 beating of Russell. The indictment alleges that Anderson “unlawfully and maliciously caused bodily harm to the person of Willie Paul Russell by depriving said Willie Paul Russell of a member of his body, to wit, his brain, by repeatedly hitting and kicking him about the face and head…” Based on the severity of the charges, Anderson also lost juvenile protection and will be tried as an adult, according to Alison Burleson, assistant district attorney, Ocmulgee Judicial District. According to Madison Police Department Det. Wes Thompson, Russell was found unconscious on the ground on a walking path between Mapp Street and Burney Street. Thompson, at the time of the attack, said investigators determined Russell had last been seen unharmed at midnight. Anderson was detained on the Monday following the attack in Social Circle and has remained incarcerated since. He is currently at the Morgan County Detention Center. Russell spent more than three months in Athens Regional Medical Center because of injuries sustained in the beating. Madison Police Chief Bill Ashburn said authorities believe Anderson is not the only person responsible for the death. “We think someone else is involved but (Anderson) is not talking,” Ashburn said. Thompson said officers believe the motive in the beating might be robbery but they have not made a clear determination that Russell was robbed. Ashburn said he was notified on Monday that the GBI had completed the autopsy and the finding pointed toward death from head trauma. Burleson said with Russell’s death, prosecutors will likely increase the charges against Anderson to include murder. “It would appear that if Mr. Russell died as a result of these injuries, (charges) would be upgraded to some sort of murder charge.”

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