Man arrested twice released

By Ashley Fuller, Cherokee Tribune, September 14, 2006

The man arrested twice in connection with the death of a southwest Cherokee teenager will be released as officials have learned he is the suspect's brother.

On June 16, 2000, a car driven by Gonzalo Harrell-Gonzalez struck a Pontiac carrying Billy and Kathy Inman of southwest Cherokee and their 16-year-old son, Dustin, at a red light in Gilmer County.

Dustin was killed in the accident. Both Billy and Kathy were knocked unconscious as a result of the impact and Kathy suffered injuries that require her to use a wheelchair.

Harrell-Gonzalez, who allegedly admitted to police he fell asleep behind the wheel, was taken to an Ellijay hospital and then was transferred to a hospital in Dalton. He disappeared after being mistakenly released from the hospital and police thought he fled to Mexico or his father's home in Birmingham.

According to the Gilmer County Sheriff's Office, the man police believed to be Harrell-Gonzalez was first arrested last September in Birmingham. He later was released after showing a magistrate court judge evidence alleging he was not Gonzalo, but his brother, Roberto.

The sheriff's office obtained X-rays from the North Georgia Medical Center where Gonzalo was treated after the accident and asked the Birmingham police to arrest the same man again. He was arrested last October as police said their review of dental records determined he was Gonzalo.

Investigators since have met with dental experts from Birmingham and Alabama for a complete dental history. They found differences in the dental X-rays of Gonzalo and the man in jail who claims he is Roberto.

Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney Joe Hendricks, in a motion filed Wednesday, asks that Roberto be released subject to any holds by other agencies.

Due to evidence and Roberto's conduct, Hendricks in the motion said he believes Roberto knows where Gonzalo is. He has ordered Roberto to appear before the Gilmer grand jury in October to testify about his knowledge of Gonzalo's whereabouts.

Inman, who has dedicated his life to catching Gonzalo and illegal immigration reform, said he is "dumbfounded" by what has happened.

"It took forever to get him," he said. "I want the right one and I felt that I had the right one."

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