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Memorial service held for slain teenagers

Photo by Elaine Rackley
Nicole Green (left), mother of Octavius Sorrells, and Lakesha Green (no relation), mother of Antonious Bishop, are pictured following the memorial service for their sons at Divine Faith Ministries International in Jonesboro.

Photo by Elaine Rackley Nicole Green (left), mother of Octavius Sorrells, and Lakesha Green (no relation), mother of Antonious Bishop, are pictured following the memorial service for their sons at Divine Faith Ministries International in Jonesboro.

JONESBORO — Clayton County and state officials joined relatives and friends to remember the three young men killed last year, when a car plowed into them as they walked along a Stockbridge highway.

“One day you will see those young men again — in Revelation 21:4 it says, ‘And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away,' " said Bishop Donald Battle of Divine Faith Ministries International. “This is their anniversary of their birth into a place called Heaven."

Octavius Sorrells and Timothy Aaron, both 17, and Antonious Bishop, 16, were walking on the shoulder of Ga. 138 east near the I-675 overpass when they were struck by a car driven by Priscilla Dianne Johnson, 49, of Lithonia.

Battle hosted a memorial service for the three teens, However, the Aaron family did not attend the event.

The memorial service was held at Divine Faith Ministries International church, located at 9800 Tara Blvd.

Battle told those in attendance, including Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell, who was on hand for the service, that the church along with the county would cover the cost of the helicopter used to airlift the young patients to Grady Hospital in Atlanta.

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Photo by Elaine Rackley Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson (far right) Clayton County Asst. District Attorney Luana Nolen (center) and Clayton County Special Appointed Asst. District Attorney Melissa Tatum were on hand for Octavius Sorrells, Timothy Aaron and Antonious Bishop memorial service.

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Photo by Elaine Rackley Clayton County Police officers, Jeff Burdette (left) and Brett Bell were on hand for the service memorializing Octavius Sorrells, Timothy Aaron and Antonious Bishop. The officers were among the first responders to the scene where the young men were killed.

A Bank of America account has been established to help cover medical expenses for the youngsters. Donations can be made to #334036429835 at any branch.

Bell told the relatives and friends of Sorrells and Bishop gathered for the service that children are a message sent to the future.

“The only thing after death for us to do is to remember,” said Bell. “Remember the good things, all the funny stories and how they made us laugh — those are the treasures that we take with us.”

Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson encouraged the audience to continue to talk with Sorrells and Bishop’s mothers and encourage them.

“This case affected us more than any other case,” said Lawson. “This was one of the biggest tragedies I’ve ever seen in my life ... But you will find peace knowing that you will see them again.”

Clayton County Commission Chairman-elect Jeff Turner told the audience Aaron, Bishop, and Sorrells were given to the world for a purpose and that the young men were a blessing.

“I wanted to be here to show my support to the family, because when we lose our children the entire community suffers,” said Turner following the memorial service.

Turner, a former Clayton police chief, commended two of Clayton County Police officers at the memorial ceremony for their outstanding service at the crime scene. Officer Jeff Burdette works with the “Serious Accident Reconstruction” team for the police department. Officer Brett Bell works with the Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic (HEAT) unit.

“They went beyond the call of duty to show love and support to families they did not know before this tragedy,” said Turner.

Battle and his staff have become mentors and spiritual counselors for Sorrells’ and Bishop’s mothers.

“Today was awesome, this was a blessing to me,” said Lakesha Green, Bishop’s mother. “Linda Torrence, Dana Stackhouse and Angela Lofton [Battle’s staff members] keep in constant contact with me and my family.”

Nicole Green, Sorrells’ mother but no relation to Lakesha, said although she was not a member of Divine Faith at the time of the incident, she has since joined the church.

“I am just happy, and excited to have a church that truly has my back,” she said. “I pass by where my son was killed every day.”

Clayton County police said Johnson was under the influence of medication and arguing on a cell phone at the time of the crash. According to arrest warrants, Johnson kept driving after hitting the three teens, stopping only when she hit a light pole. When police arrived, Johnson got into the driver's seat of a patrol car, pulled away violently from officers and wouldn't follow commands, warrants allege.

Johnson pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of homicide by vehicle, reckless driving, failure to stop and render aid, unlawful use of a wireless device, driving on a suspended license and without insurance. 

A Clayton County grand jury indicted Johnson in May.

Johnson is being held on $450,000 bond and failed in an attempt last month to get it reduced. During that bond hearing, the mothers of Bishop and Sorrells testified to the pain and grief they suffer every day without their sons.

Staff writer Kathy Jefcoats contributed to this story.