Across Georgia

Sugar refinery victim sues cleaning firm


SAVANNAH --- An employee at a sugar refinery that exploded last month has filed a lawsuit in state court against a company that was hired to clean dust at the plant outside Savannah.

An attorney for Raquel Islas is seeking punitive damages from Stokes Contracting. Ms. Islas suffered burns that required skin grafts.

Another victim of the Feb. 7 explosion at the Imperial Sugar Co. plant in Savannah has been discharged from the Joseph M. Still Burn Center, officials said Wednesday. The patient, who was not identified, will continue to receive treatment.

FBI finds father, three kids dead in woods

COLUMBUS --- A Georgia father and his three young children were found dead Wednesday in a wooded area, nearly two weeks after he was thought to have fled the state with them, the FBI said.

FBI spokesman Stephen Emmett declined to say how the four died, or provide any details about how they were found, except to say it was in a rural area of Columbus, which is about 90 miles southwest of Atlanta.

Officials don't know what sparked Eddie Harrington's decision to flee with his children.

Rape suspect still in Oglethorpe County jail

LEXINGTON, Ga. --- An Augusta man remains in the Oglethorpe County jail after being charged with raping a 16-year-old girl last weekend, according to Oglethorpe County Sheriff Mike Smith.

Gerald David Smith, 37, was arrested Sunday and denied bail in a magistrate court hearing on Monday, Sheriff Smith said.

The girl told investigators that Mr. Smith, who was an acquaintance, raped her in her home in the Lexington area on Saturday, the sheriff said.

Couple faces charges of animal cruelty

Two south Augusta residents were charged with animal cruelty Tuesday after their dogs were found injured and malnourished.

Kendrick Jennings, 33, and Jennifer Ruhl, 31, both of a home in the 2100 block of McNutt Road, have each been charged with 17 counts of animal cruelty.

Richmond County Animal Control had been investigating the case since early February, said Director Diane Downs.

The dogs were living in unsanitary pens with limited space and little food or water, Ms. Downs said. Four of the dogs had visible, open wounds.

All 17 dogs are being held at animal control, Ms. Downs said.

Mr. Jennings and Ms. Ruhl were both released from the Richmond County jail early Wednesday morning, according to a jail administrator.

-- From staff and wire reports