Driver in fiery crash arrested in MCG assault

A fiery, late-night car crash at an Augusta hotel and several anonymous tipsters led investigators to the man accused of assaulting a woman in a hospital bathroom last week.

Richmond County authorities served a search warrant at the home of Roger Antonio Bettis, 28, of North Augusta, on Thursday afternoon and found clothing that matched those worn by the suspect in surveillance video taken from Medical College of Georgia Hospital, according to a Richmond County Sheriff's Office press release.

Mr. Bettis, who was released from prison just two days before the assault in MCG Hospital, was arrested Sunday after he crashed a stolen car into the Budget Inn on Broad Street after a police chase and the robbery of Greg's Gas Plus on Atomic Road.

The crash -- and the fire it caused -- damaged the hotel and prompted its evacuation.

Sheriff's investigators began looking at Mr. Bettis as a suspect in the hospital assault after video released in that case prompted several anonymous calls. They expect trace evidence recovered from the suspect's home will point to his involvement in the beating.

The assault occurred about 8:40 p.m. June 3 in a fourth-floor bathroom of MCG Hospital. The 63-year-old victim was beaten unconscious and suffered a dislocated jaw, broken teeth, bruises and cuts, investigators said.

Mr. Bettis served a five-year prison sentence from 1998 to 2003 after he choked and robbed a woman on Bungalow Road. He had served just over five years of a six-year sentence for attempted armed robbery in South Carolina when he was released this month.

Mr. Bettis is charged with aggravated battery, aggravated assault, criminal attempt rape, false imprisonment and possession of a knife during the commission of a crime.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.