Breakdown Ep. 2: A hobbled defense, a new determination

A hobbled defense, a new determination

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Updated 11:03 p.m. — 

PODCAST EPISODE 2:  As a public defender in 2007, Jan Hankins didn’t prepare properly for, and lost, the arson and murder trial of Justin Chapman. But the fact is that NOBODY in Hankins’ circumstances could have won the Chapman case.

One thing Hankins didn’t do was give up on her client. She searched for years for an attorney who would take up his case. One obstacle: the new lawyer would have to represent Chapman free of charge.

In this first season of the AJC's new Breakdown podcast, senior legal affairs writer Bill Rankin goes deep inside the Chapman case, exploring where the criminal justice system broke down. Listen at, where you’ll also find photos, articles, videos and documents relating to the Chapman case.


police-SLOT 2

Promise, pitfalls of cops and cameras

Body cameras have rapidly become the No. 1 response to the rupture in police relations with the public in post-Ferguson America. Hundreds of cops in metro Atlanta will soon be wearing them, and the chances are increasing that the next officer who stops you in traffic will be recording his behavior and yours.

Recent polls show as many as nine in 10 Americans support the use of the cameras on cops, but that enthusiasm can fade once the police camera is trained on them.



personal journey

A family outcast

Daniel Ashley Pierce never clicks on the YouTube video. Watch the disturbing clip that went viral and made him a famous gay teenager, and you understand why.

Posted online by a friend, it’s the recording of an intervention of sorts by kinfolk on his father’s side who curse and threaten Daniel before they cast him out of his home for being himself.




Development cramps Atlanta-area airports

Areas around Atlanta’s public airports have experienced tremendous growth and development over the last 25 years, making it harder to safely land a plane when something goes wrong.

Small planes taking off from airfields across metro Atlanta can sometimes have little room to maneuver when they run into airborne trouble. They crash-land into houses, backyards and on highways.



Lee remodels office with new space and people

Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee is remaking his office, both literally and figuratively.

Since 2013, Lee has twice remodeled his office in the county building for a combined $34,500; he’s hired a deputy chief in January at $105,000 a year; and now he’s in the process of creating a position for a web-savvy employee who will take the place of Millie Rodgers, an assistant in the chairman’s office since 1992.



Did elderly driving or a malfunction cause crash?

It’s only natural when accidents happen for us to look for something or someone to blame.

We found both fairly quickly in the case of Marlene Wilbur, the 81-year-old Marietta woman who plowed her car into five pedestrians at the Paulding County Courthouse last month, killing one.



Turner Field is kaput, and all Ted gets is this?

One might think Ted Turner would warrant something more to honor him than an endless strip of parking lots downtown. But his supporters will take what they can get. Changing a street name in Atlanta — once a city tradition — has become an emotionally charged battle. Putting Ted’s first name on the street sign is the modern way of doing things. In the old days, a last name on a street sign was good enough.


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Gain an insider’s perspective into the unique neighborhoods of in town Atlanta. Our lifestyle magazine explores all the things that make in-town living so appealing – from restaurants and attractions to the neighborhoods and their distinct personalities. Available on your desktop, tablet and smartphone and at select outlets around town.

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AJC launches Breakdown, a new podcast series

AJC launches Breakdown, a new podcast series

Follow the twists and turns of a case that some say landed an innocent man in prison. Subscribers get exclusive access to new episodes each Sunday - plus digital extras including character backgrounds, video interviews, photo galleries, court documents and timelines.

Learn more