Here's a look at some of the biggest stories this week on ledger-enquirer.com and in the Ledger-Enquirer newspaper.
1. Mother gunned down by live-in boyfriend days after moving into new home: A week before she was gunned down in her Forrest Road home, Jessica Osborne shared the start of her new life in Columbus on Facebook. Police arrested Osborne’s live-in boyfriend, 23-year-old Vashon Walker, Tuesday night after he emerged from the 4304 Forrest Road home covered in blood. Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan pronounced Osborne dead of a single gunshot wound to the head.
2. Former preacher pleads guilty to having sex with 12-year-old: A former minister who initiated a months-long sexual affair with a 12-year-old girl as he served as her family’s spiritual advisor pleaded guilty to reduced child-molestation charges Thursday. Superior Court Judge Art Smith III sentenced Bradford Ford, 47, to 15 years with eight to serve in prison and the rest on probation.
3. Authorities look for ways to resolve backlog of court cases: In Columbus courts, concern is growing that justice too long delayed is an injustice, and in some cases the effect is punishing people for poverty rather than wrongdoing — stuffing the jail with people who spend months there not because they’ve been found guilty and sentenced, but because they simply can’t afford even minimal bonds.
4. Father of 10 calls family a huge blessing: The Rev. Andy Merritt and his wife, Kathy, have 10 children in their 40 years of marriage. Merritt, 62, is senior pastor of Edgewood Baptist Church on Forrest Road, where he’s served for 37 years. He and his wife have three sons and seven daughters, from ages 39 to 19. All but the two youngest are now living on their own, and many have started their own families.
5. Inquirer: Community pool causing problems for neighborhood: What happens when the pool and surrounding grounds are in just such a varmint-producing state, but the owner no longer exists? No, the pool’s owner didn’t die or disappear into the night. The pool was, and still is, owned by Leesburg Pool Club Inc., an entity established to take ownership of the pool when the developers of the subdivision built the pool and donated it to the community.