Crime

Macon woman charged in Wendy's french fry assault

A 42-year-old Macon woman spent two hours in jail Thursday after her arrest in last month's attack on a woman over a bag of Baconator fries.

Denesha Lannett Cliett, of Royal Oaks Drive, turned herself in at the Bibb County Law Enforcement Center about 11:30 a.m. Thursday and was released on an $1,850 bond at 1:30 p.m., according to a release from the Bibb County Sheriff's Office.

She was charged with battery and cruelty to children in the third degree after being caught on a surveillance camera inside the Wendy's at 6040 Zebulon Road the night of the incident.

Elaine Modena, the daughter-in-law of the late former Sheriff Jerry Modena, said the woman started hitting her after Modena grabbed the french fries she'd been waiting on.

Earlier this week, Modena shared with The Telegraph her version of what happened that night. On Friday, Cliett told The Telegraph her side.

On Feb. 13, Modena, her husband and mother-in-law went through the drive-thru. Modena's order was complete except for the fries. An attendant told her to pull forward and wait. After more than 10 minutes, Modena walked to the restaurant's inside counter to check on the fries, according to her account of the incident in the sheriff's office report.

"One of the employees made the fries for me, then handed them to the drive-through girl and she handed them out the window" to another customer, Modena said in an email to The Telegraph. "I said that they were supposed to be mine."

The employees made another batch of the cheese and bacon-covered fries, she said.

Modena said she "was not happy so I did not say thank you," and took the bag of fries before walking toward the door.

Before she could leave, a woman in the dining area yelled, "Are you just going to snatch that out of my niece's hand?"

"I said I did not know and so what if I did," Modena said in the email. The woman, along with several others, followed Modena to her car. As she closed her car door, the woman punched her window, she later told deputies.

"I was again in shock. I am almost 50 years old and have never had anyone do this," Modena said. "I opened my door, which now I know was a mistake, however I thought she was going to key my car. She grabbed me by the hair and starting hitting me in the face. Some of the children also started hitting me, one on my back. I don't remember anything else."

Modena said her husband, Jerry Michael Modena Jr., tried to stop the children and woman from hurting her. The woman and her children left, screaming obscenities and threatening to "make them pay," according to the incident report.

Cliett told The Telegraph on Friday afternoon that she thinks the case is being pursued because of the family connection to the late sheriff.

"You cannot use, because of who you are and who you are related to, you cannot use that as your weapon," Cliett said.

According to Cliett's version of events, when Modena walked into the restaurant, she used obscenities when talking to the employee.

"It didn't have anything to do with me directly," Cliett acknowledged of that argument. "But what she said was wrong."

Cliett said she stepped in and started to argue with Modena, and she acknowledged following Modena into the parking lot. Once outside, Cliett said, the two continued their argument.

Modena put her food in the car and came toward her, Cliett said. She said the argument turned physical and that Modena charged at her.

"I felt like I was defending myself," she said.

Cliett said three of her children -- ages 12, 9 and 8 -- were with her that day, but she said "they didn't touch (Modena). They didn't jump on her back."

Cliett, who has driven a school bus for the Bibb County school system for more than seven years, said she contacted the Macon chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which is working on her behalf in the case. The NAACP confirmed Friday that the group has taken up Cliett's cause.

There was no video footage of the fight because there were no surveillance cameras on the outside of the building, according to the incident report.

Writer Andy M. Drury contributed to this report.

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