Basil Ghali was sentenced to six years in prison for three counts of aggravated assault for firing multiple shots at three fishermen on Lake Tobesofkee in Macon, Ga. In addition to the six years behind bars. Superior Court Judge Howard Simms gave him fourteen additional years on probation. If Basil Ghali violates his probation, he could be sentenced to up to 60 years in prison. (Twenty years per count for each of the three fishermen)
The terms of his probation include not owning a gun or living in a home with a gun. He must take his prescribed medication and cannot be involved in any more acts of violence or threats of violence. But Basil Ghali was sentenced as a first offender which means if he completes his probation, the felony will be wiped from his record.
Was this justice? That is for the victims, Shelby Smith, Adriel Miles and Miles’ son to answer not me. After they have had time to digest the verdict I hope they will share their thoughts with me again.
In Court Shelby Smith said “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about this incident” so it’s clear this is something they will all be dealing with for a long time to come.
Having had several near death experiences myself I can certainly sympathize with that fear and stress of a near death experience. Many years ago I was visiting Taiwan and had to cut my trip short by one day to return to work in Japan. The very next day the flight I had originally booked crashed and killed everyone on board.
In court Shelby Smith said “We were in the lake. He saw us in the lake, went back, got his weapon came out and shot at us.” …..”Thank God he missed”. When I saw the flight number of the plane that crashed I was saddened by the loss of all those people that perished but couldn’t help thinking Thank God I changed my flight. My experience wasn’t nearly as harrowing as the shots fired on Tobesofkee and even many years later I still have some fear of flying. I can certainly understand the post traumatic stress of bullets flying by your head.
Basil Ghali’s defense attorney argued in court that two brain surgeries, one back in 1998 and once again in 2008 in his right frontal lobe for arteriovenous malformation in addition to bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorder, impulse control disorder, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder are reasons he acted so recklessly that night. Additionally the attorney for Basil Ghali said his medication was improperly adjusted and he had been drinking alcohol. An additional factor also was his brother had died one year earlier in March.
Even is all of those things are true, I still feel the sentence was appropriate. If you look deeply enough into the reasons why anyone commits a crime you will hear some pretty heart wrenching reasons why people choose a life a crime or act violently. In addition to punishment, a prison sentence ideally acts as a deterrent to others who might carelessly decide to fire at people.
We simply cannot allow someone that commits aggravated assault that could have very easily killed those three fishermen leniency. The fact that he was drinking also means the risk of them being killed was even far greater than I originally thought. There is a reason DUI sentencing is so severe. How good can your aim be when you are drunk?
We were the first ones to pay much attention to this story after the media lost interest. The local media all covered it shortly after the event but, as is often the case moved on to newer and more titillating stories with almost no follow-up. But there was something about this story that spoke to me and after interviewing one of the fishermen, I was determined to do everything I could to help the fishermen get justice.
These articles also resulted in some shake-ups and discipline inside of the Bibb County Sheriff’s department over the original botched investigation where Basil Ghali should have been arrested the night it happened. Sheriff David Davis disciplined the deputies involved and said the chain of command mishandled the case.
I understand the mantra of local news that goes “if it bleeds it leads” who have to answer to advertisers. I have the luxury of being able to devote an inordinate amount of time and scrutiny to certain stories that peak my interest and do follow-ups. My investigation also led to an article I published about an incident at Eagle Gun range by another Ghali son named Kinan. Exactly one day after that article was published Kinnan Ghali was arrested for the incident described below after he turned himself in. He was bonded out of jail and was charged with four counts of making terroristic threats. We have not forgotten this case I assure you and are waiting for news on that case as well. Like the promise I made to the fisherman, I made a similar promise to Eagle Gun range that they would not be forgotten.
I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Noelle Kachinsky at WGXA for recognizing our hard work and efforts. I would also like to thank Gail Daniels and the Live in the Morning crew as well on Channel 58 WPGA. I didn’t investigate or publish these articles for fortune or fame, but receiving some recognition for the small part we may have played was certainly greatly appreciated.
Other Articles on Tobesofkee Shooting in Chronological Order
Fishing For Justice in Macon, Georgia April 7, 2015
Who has Been Terrorizing Fishermen at Tobesofkee? April 14, 2015
Cryptic Blogs Connected To Tobesofkee Shooting Suspects April 15, 2015
Sheriff Davis Expands Reprimands Up the Chain of Command April 23, 2015