Apr 23, 2009

Via AJC.com:

A Fulton County magistrate judge on Thursday denied bond for Aimee Michael, the young woman charged in an Easter Sunday hit-and-run wreck that left five people dead.

At an 11 a.m. first appearance hearing, Judge James Altman denied a request from Michael's attorney, W. Scott Smith, that Michael, 22, be granted bond. He scheduled her next court appearance for May 7.

Michael was charged with five counts of homicide by vehicle, one count of failure to maintain lane and one count of serious injury by vehicle, hit and run, police said.

Smith asked the judge to grant bond, with the provisions that Michael be under house arrest and wear an ankle monitor.

"If she had come forward, I probably would [agree]," Altman said, adding that Michael instead had "done absolutely nothing to fulfill her responsibility."

Fulton County police said Thursday that Michael was apparently on an errand to pick up cake and ice cream for her mother when she allegedly hit a Mercedes-Benz, starting a chain reaction wreck that ended with the Mercedes hitting another car head-on. Michael was picked up for questioning Wednesday night and was arrested and charged early Thursday.

"We had received many, many tips from various different ways, and we've been trying to follow up with all of them," Fulton County police detective Melissa Parker said at a 10 a.m. press conference. "I'm not sure how this particular tip came in, but I'm told it was an anonymous tip.

"The women that were brought here were Aimee Michael, her mother and her grandmother. I'm told that her mother had sent her on Easter out for some cake and ice cream," Parker said. "En route is when the collision occurred. She turned around, she went back home and she put the vehicle in the garage. Did not tell her mother. She told her mother that she did not feel well, had a headache, and went to her room. It is not normal for the mother or the grandmother to ever enter or exit the house through the garage."

Parker said Michael "didn't tell her family for a couple of days what had happened, and finally, she broke down and told her mother what had happened. To my knowledge, the rest of the family did not know for two days. After that, I'm told, they were aware."

Parker said she did not know why the family didn't come forward before police caught up with them on Wednesday.

Asked if other family members might face charges, Parker said, "right now, it's going to be up to the D.A.'s office what the additional charges may be. It's a possibility" that they could face charges.

Some early media reports erroneously stated that Michael's mother, Sheila Michael, was a principal at Northwood Elementary, a Fulton County school in Roswell. Sheila Michael, who has the same name as the principal but is not related to her, is a teacher at Cascade Elementary, an Atlanta public school.

Parker would not release any details on the repairs that had been made to the BMW or who made those repairs, saying that that information was a part of the ongoing investigation.

Michael was led handcuffed from the Fulton County police major crimes unit off Fulton Industrial Boulevard, where she was being questioned, around 5:15 a.m. Police had been questioning Michael and the two other women in an investigation of the April 12 hit-and-run wreck after they found the BMW they believe was involved in the crash.

An anonymous tip led police Wednesday to a home in the 3900 block of Ailey Avenue in south Fulton County, where the BMW was parked in the driveway. They later searched the home and confiscated the vehicle.

At 6:45 p.m., a plum-colored Ford Expedition pulled into the Walden Park subdivision. When the car went into the garage, three to four Fulton County police officers rushed in as a woman got out of the SUV. A Fulton County SWAT officer then closed the garage door.

Shortly after 7, police left the residence with the three women, who police said had agreed to be questioned.

None of the women was handcuffed but were led to police cars that carried them away.

The women were taken to the Fulton County police major crimes unit. At about 3:30 a.m. Thursday two of the women were released, while police continued to question Michael.

"I'm shocked," said neighbor Chandra Adams. "The neighborhood is banding together to find out what's going on in our neighborhood."

Adams said police first arrived at the Walden Park neighborhood around 10 a.m.

SWAT arrived at 3 p.m. and surrounded the home, Parker said.

"There were other identifying factors that allowed us to enter the house," Parker said.

Police went into the home, but found no one there, she said.

The car was impounded for further investigation.


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