Top online stories in 2012: Little League fight, teen girl's slaying lead list

ssorich@ledger-enquirer.comDecember 27, 2012 

We caught your attention online this year with stories that were heartbreaking, exciting and downright bizarre.

Throughout 2012, ledger-enquirer.com was your source for breaking news in the Chattahoochee Valley and beyond.

Here are our top 10 most-read local online stories for 2012.

No. 1: Little League fight at Britt David Park.

It was the fight seen around the nation. When we filmed adults fighting at a local Little League game, national media outlets picked up the story, contributing to its online popularity.

The fight that erupted in July after Northern Little League defeated Harris County at Britt David Park was embarrassing to players and the city of Columbus, league officials said.

"It's about the most disgusting thing I have ever seen in Little League in all the years I've been doing it," said Bernard Ashley, Little League District 8 administrator, who has supported the league for 35 years.

No. 2: Teen Benjamin Brantley charged with murder in death of 16-year-old Kayla Castro.

Kayla, a 16-year-old Hardaway High School sophomore, was the victim of a shotgun blast to the chest on March 31. She was pronounced dead on a Saturday night at 4944 Wellborn Drive, where police said the shooting happened in a bedroom.

Kayla's boyfriend, Benjamin Brantley, 18, was charged with her murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and possession of a sawed-off shotgun.

No. 3: Stephanie Pedersen commentary: Did Isaiah Crowell make the wrong decision by going to Georgia?

Ledger-Enquirer Metro Editor Stephanie Pedersen wrote this column after Isaiah Crowell was jailed on three weapons charges, including two felonies.

He was also dismissed from the University of Georgia football team.

Pedersen wrote, "When the Bulldogs were recruiting Crowell, the entire fan base looked at him as the savior of that program. Some even said Richt's job depended on it. Alabama didn't have those types of expectations. Crowell could have been one of many stars in the Tide's backfield."

No. 4: Dam blast.

People had high expectations when authorities announced plans to blast a 50-foot section of the Eagle & Phenix dam in March.

Thousands of people gathered in downtown Columbus to watch the event, which happened as a result of plans to build a local whitewater course. We offered live video coverage online. There was even an official dam blast cake.

When it finally happened, the anticipated blast seemed a little anti-climactic.

"I can't believe that's all it was," said a woman leaving the area cordoned off for public viewing at Bay Avenue and 10th Street.

No. 5: UGA's Isaiah Crowell arrested on weapons charges.

Georgia tailback Isaiah Crowell, a former Carver High standout, was jailed in June on three weapons charges, including two felonies. Crowell was arrested on charges of carrying a weapon in a school zone, and having an altered ID mark, both felonies. He was also booked on a misdemeanor charge of possessing/carrying a concealed weapon. After being dismissed from the University of Georgia football team, Crowell enrolled at Alabama State, which is located in Montgomery.

No. 6: Auburn football notes: Kirby Smart tops short list for new Auburn coach.

After Gene Chizik was fired, rumors spread that Kirby Smart, the defensive coordinator at the University of Alabama, would become Auburn University's next head football coach.

The job ultimately went to former offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who championed Cam Newton and the Tigers to a 14-0 season in 2010. He became Auburn's 26th head coach following a one-year stop at Arkansas State.

No. 7: Wynn Patrick, son of former Carmike CEO Michael Patrick, found dead in his home.

Wynn Patrick was found dead in his Columbus home in June. There was no evidence of foul play, police said, but the body was sent to the state crime lab in Atlanta for an autopsy.

No. 8: Official signing day updates for Georgia.

We were your source for breaking news updates on national signing day in 2012. This story about the University of Georgia's prospects was especially popular.

No. 9: Georgia judge to hear arguments on eligibility of Barack Obama on ballot; Orly Taitz hails decision.

"Birther" attorney Orly Taitz continued to make headlines in 2012. This story appeared on our website early in the year. A Georgia judge agreed to hear arguments about Barack Obama's eligibility to become president.

Initially filed by Taitz on behalf of a Georgia resident, the complaint argued that Obama isn't a natural born citizen and is ineligible from being president.

Ultimately, the judge rejected the argument, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

No. 10: Sheriff's officials: Teen charged in fatal crash had prior DUI arrest.

Three people were arrested after a crash that killed 16-year-old Hannah Gilmer, a Northside High student. Her boyfriend Clayton Qualls, who was 17 at the time, faced charges including vehicular homicide, driving under the influence, minor in possession of alcohol and having an open container.

Austin Lott and Hughes Massengale, who were 18 and 17 respectively, each were charged with evidence tampering.

Qualls had previously been charged with DUI in a separate arrest weeks before the June crash, which happened on County Line Road.

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