Across the area

Alcohol was not factor in deaths


A 61-year-old Aiken man who fatally shot his two daughters and then himself in November had "negligible" amounts of alcohol in his system when he died, Aiken County Coroner Tim Carlton said Wednesday.

Toxicology and autopsy results show Alton Beasley died from a gunshot wound to the head, but that he had practically no alcohol in his blood. Authorities had described his body as having a strong alcoholic odor the day of the murders. He also reportedly had a history of alcoholism.

"Essentially it's a negative finding," Mr. Carlton said. "We asked for a second finding because of his history, and there was just a trace amount."

Authorities say Mr. Beasley, angry about his pending divorce, shot his two daughters at his parents' Aiken home. Divorce records from Aiken County Family Court indicate he might have blamed them for his divorce.

House fire causes minor injury

An Augusta home was damaged by a fire late Wednesday, resulting in one person being treated for a minor injury.

The fire at 2605 Parkway Drive, near Daniel Field Airport, was reported at 10:15 p.m. Firefighters remained at the scene as of 11 a.m.

Three residents were able to escape the home, but one was treated at the scene for minor inhalation problems, an Augusta 911 dispatcher said.

The cause was being investigated.

Excellence award will honor late attorney

The State Bar of Georgia has renamed its Excellence in Bar Leadership Award in memory of Augusta attorney Thomas R. "Tommy" Burnside Jr.

The bar association issued a news release about the award Wednesday.

Mr. Burnside served on the State Bar's Board of Governors from 1993 until his death in 2007. He had been a president of the Augusta Bar Association and the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association. He received the highest honor of the state bar's General Practice & Trial Practice Section in 1998, and he was included in the Best Lawyers in America since 1993.

Drunken driver gets 12-year sentence

A Columbia County man whose drunken driving crash seriously injured another driver was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in prison.

William Ogletree, 29, will have five additional years to serve on probation when he completes his prison sentence. He pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to serious injury by vehicle, reckless driving and driving under the influence for an Oct. 5, 2006, crash.

Larry Batchelor Jr. still cannot walk unassisted, and if the next surgery is unsuccessful, he will lose his lower left leg.

Mr. Ogletree was arrested on fleeing from law enforcement, DUI and possession of marijuana on Dec. 1, two days after he was released on bond for the other case.

Stadium lights taken from Hephzibah High

Police are investigating the theft of 25 stadium lights from Hephzibah High School's football stadium.

A Richmond County sheriff's report states that the lights, each valued at $1,000, were taken between Jan. 1 and Tuesday.

23 people indicted in statewide auto thefts

A Sylvania woman is among 23 people indicted on federal charges related to an auto theft ring, according to an indictment unsealed this week.

A federal jury returned a 56-count indictment, accusing residents from throughout the state of trafficking in stolen vehicles, altering motor vehicle identification numbers and possessing counterfeit vehicle titles with the intent to defraud.

Daisy V. Scott, 31, is among those charged.

Three are sentenced in Lincolnton robbery

Prison sentences were given Wednesday to three people convicted in a bank robbery plot.

U.S. Attorney Edmund Booth Jr. said Anthony Emetu was sentenced to 84 months in prison and fined $5,000 for use of a firearm during a crime of violence; Shannon Lazenby was sentenced to 54 months in prison and fined $3,000 on conspiracy to commit bank robbery; and Juwan Beard was sentenced to 74 months in prison and fined $4,000 on armed bank robbery.

The three were sentenced in connection to the March robbery of the Farmers and Merchants Bank in Lincolnton.

Coast Guard Band tickets available

The United States Coast Guard Band will perform at 7 p.m. Jan. 24 at First Baptist Church of Augusta.

The performance is free, but tickets are required. For a maximum of four tickets, visit any branch of Georgia Bank and Trust, the Augusta Metro and Columbia County chambers of commerce, the Fort Gordon Federal Credit Union, or the First Baptist Church of Augusta.

A self-addressed, stamped envelope also can be sent to Thom Tuckey, CSRA Alliance, P.O. Box 670, Augusta, GA 30903-0670. For more information, call Mr. Tuckey at (706) 821-1312.

Gather electronics, glass for recycling

Electronic items and glass can be recycled between 9 a.m. and noon Saturday, Jan. 26, at Fort Discovery, 1 Seventh St.

Acceptable items include computers, fax machines, scanners, pagers, digital cameras and cell phones. TVs and microwave ovens aren't accepted.

Admission to the event, sponsored by the CSRA Environmental Science Education Cooperative, is free. For more information, call (706) 821-0224.

Writers can find support at meeting

CSRA Writers will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 1336 Augusta West Parkway.

Writers needing a support group are invited to attend and bring eight copies of a manuscript to be critiqued.

Contact Steve Fox at (706) 836-7315 for more information.

-- From staff reports