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Bond hearing scheduled in Cracker Barrel beating

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

A bond hearing date has been set for the Poulan, Ga., man charged with punching and kicking a female Army reservist earlier this month at the Morrow Cracker Barrel restaurant.

Troy Dale West, 47, is scheduled to appear for a bond hearing Oct. 27 at 9 a.m., in Clayton County Superior Court, before Judge Geronda Carter.

Atlanta attorney Tony Axam filed a motion requesting bond for West on Tuesday, according to court records. Axam also filed an "entry of appearance" document, stating that he is now representing West, as legal counsel, in the case.

West is accused of attacking Tashawnea Hill, 35, of Jonesboro, on Sept. 9 -- while yelling, vile, racial slurs at her -- in the presence of Hill's 7-year-old daughter. Hill is African American, and West is Caucasian.

According to a Morrow Police Department report from the day of the incident, West allegedly attacked Hill after she said to him that he had almost hit her daughter with the restaurant door as Hill was entering the establishment, and West was leaving.

West was arrested at the scene, and later released on bond from the Clayton County Jail. He was facing misdemeanor charges at that time, but there was mounting pressure from civil rights groups and the community to upgrade the charges.

Hill, meantime, filed an application for an arrest warrant in Clayton County Magistrate Court, seeking to have the charges upgraded to felonies, and seeking to have West re-arrested.

In a dramatic development during that hearing, on Sept. 23., Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson entered the courtroom with an indictment against West that had just been issued that morning by a grand jury.

The grand jury indicted West on felony charges of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and cruelty to children, as well as on misdemeanor counts of battery and disorderly conduct.

West was denied bond on the new charges, and immediately remanded into the custody of the Clayton County Sheriff's Office. He was booked into the Clayton County Jail.

Hill then asked that Chief Magistrate Court Judge Daphne Walker dismiss Hill's application for the arrest warrant, which was the reason for the hearing. Walker complied.

In the motion for bond filed Tuesday, Axam said West has been a resident of Georgia for 47 years, and referred to West's ties to the community.

"The defendant is self-employed with West Paint and Body, a family-owned business, and has owned the company for the past 22 years," Axam wrote in the document seeking a bond for West.

Axam continued, "The defendant has family members that live in the state of Georgia, including his wife, mother, father, and three children, ages 21 and 19, and 17, who are all lifetime residents of the state of Georgia. The defendant would be a good risk for bond."

Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson said Friday, regarding the bond hearing: "We will appear and represent the state of Georgia."

Axam could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Attorney Larry King had represented West during the Sept. 23 hearing regarding the application for an arrest warrant filed by Tashawnea Hill. An assistant at King's lawfirm said Friday that King's firm is no longer representing West. Online court records show Axam as the sole attorney for West.

Following his bond hearing on Oct. 27, West is scheduled to appear for an arraignment, in Clayton County Superior Court, Oct. 28.