Across the area

Walker testifies before federal judge in Savannah


A federal judge heard from Charles Walker, convicted while serving as a state senator in 2005, and from federal prosecutors Friday afternoon in Savannah.

According to acting U.S. Attorney Joseph Newman, U.S. District Court Chief Judge William T. Moore Jr. said he would issue a decision later. The hearing concerned some of the allegations raised in Mr. Walker's habeas petition. The petition is a civil challenge to imprisonment based on constitutional grounds.

Mr. Walker was convicted of 127 criminal counts connected to various schemes to illegally enrich himself. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, fined $150,000 and ordered to pay $698,047 in restitution.

Suspects in September robbery granted bond

Two robbery suspects, including one who accidentally shot himself, were granted bond Friday.

Senior Judge Bernard J. Mulherin Sr., sitting in place of Judge Carl C. Brown Jr., granted a $40,000 bond to Marqueis D. Hall, 18, and a $35,000 bond to Gustave Taylor, 18. Both face armed robbery and burglary charges in a Sept. 15 home invasion on Leeway Landing. Neither Mr. Hall nor Mr. Taylor had any criminal history.

Assistant District Attorney Adam King said investigators believe Mr. Hall devised the scheme as revenge for being evicted from the Leeway Landing home. Mr. Hall is accused of pretending to be among the victims. Investigators also charged Antonio Clark, 16, with armed robbery in the case. Mr. Clark also faces a charge of armed robbery in a March 30 holdup.

Battalion set for 4th deployment since '01

The 202nd Military Intelligence Battalion, based at Fort Gordon, is preparing to deploy to Afghanistan, the unit's fourth deployment since 2001.

The battalion will have a ceremony at 10 a.m. Tuesday on Barton Field to case the colors, a symbolic act as troops prepare to leave their home station and establish the unit in another location. The battalion flag will be rolled up and put away until the unit reaches its destination.

About 300 soldiers from the battalion will collect human and signal intelligence for commanders in Afghanistan, according to a Fort Gordon news release. The base has 979 deployed soldiers, excluding the 202nd Military Intelligence Battalion, said spokeswoman Marla Jones. The 202nd has deployed previously to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Investigation nets 3 arrests in Wagener

Aiken County authorities say they have arrested three people after investigating drug sales and stolen property at a Wagener home for several months.

The Aiken County Sheriff's Office charged Mary Lou Sanders, 38, of the 100 block of Jeffcoat Road, with possession of marijuana, unlawful conduct towards a child and possession of a controlled substance. Jason Jerome Salley, 27, of the 100 block of Jeffcoat Road, was charged with possession of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance, unlawful conduct toward a child and possession of a firearm by an unlawful person. Davon Marquell Green, 18, of the 700 block of Tabernacle Road, Salley, faces a possession of marijuana charge, sheriff's Sgt. Dave Myers stated in an e-mail.

The investigation began earlier this year and concluded Wednesday when the sheriff's office's SWAT team served a warrant at Ms. Sanders and Mr. Salley's home. Bags of marijuana, illegal controlled pills packaged for sale and 12 firearms, including two assault rifles, were found. Investigators also discovered stolen property believed to have been traded for drugs, Sgt. Myers said. Four children ages 6 to 15 were found in a room with the narcotics and weapons.

Martinez man leads chase in stolen car

A Martinez man was arrested Friday after a brief vehicle pursuit by Columbia County deputies.

Xavier Harper, 21, of the 3500 block of Revere Place, will be charged with theft by stolen property and fleeing and attempting to elude officers, said Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris. Mr. Harper was driving a Toyota Yaris that was reported stolen in Richmond County, Capt. Morris said.

The police pursuit started on Baston Road in Martinez about 12:15 p.m. and lasted for about five minutes, with speeds never exceeding 50 mph, Capt. Morris said. Mr. Harper reportedly jumped from the vehicle as it was moving and was apprehended after a brief foot chase.

Man suspected in two robberies denied bond

An Augusta man accused of pushing an 84-year-old woman to the floor and threatening to kill her during a home invasion was denied bond Friday.

Michael C. Gribanow, 26, faces charges of armed robbery, two counts burglary and a weapon violation. Assistant District Attorney Keith Johnson said investigators believe Mr. Gribanow demanded money and drugs after forcing his way into an elderly woman's home Sept. 9. Mr. Gribanow is also suspected of breaking into another home Aug. 26 when a safe with jewelry, an iPod and a book of checks were stolen.

Mr. Gribanow must remain in jail until his possible indictment and trial in Richmond County Superior Court.

Two men sought in Aiken store robbery

Aiken County authorities were still searching Friday for two men who robbed a convenience store late Thursday.

The men entered the Circle K in the 300 block of Hitchcock Parkway about midnight, said Aiken County sheriff's Sgt. Dave Myers.

They held the clerk at gunpoint, demanded money and left with an undisclosed amount of cash, Sgt. Myers said.

One of the men is described as black, 6 feet 1 inch tall, weighing 170 pounds and wearing a black shirt and black pants with a yellow logo on the left leg. The other man was wearing a long-sleeve red shirt and black shorts, is about 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighs 170 pounds. Anyone with information can call (803) 648-7620.

Lakeside student jailed after lifting girl's skirt

A 16-year-old Lakeside High School student who police said lifted a girl's skirt in a crowded hallway was arrested Thursday.

Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said deputies were called to the school about 11 a.m.

The teen had been walking behind a 16-year-old girl during class changes when he grabbed her skirt and lifted it to chest height, Capt. Morris said. The incident occurred in full view of other students and staff in the hallway and was captured on the school's surveillance video, Capt. Morris said.

The teen was taken into custody as a juvenile and charged with one misdemeanor count of sexual battery, Capt. Morris said.

Condition of Savannah worker has improved

The medical condition of a Savannah area worker who was burned in an explosion at a Garden City recycling plant on Tuesday has improved.

Benjamin Damian, 44, was listed in fair condition Thursday at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital, hospital spokeswoman Olena Scarboro said. Mr. Damian had been listed in critical condition shortly after he and another worker were injured in the midday blast at the Savannah Recycling scrap yard. The two were using a torch to dismantle an oil tank that exploded, fire officials said.

NAACP branch to hold voter registration drive

The Augusta Branch NAACP will hold a voter registration drive from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at the Kmart on Gordon Highway. Those who register will be eligible to vote in the Nov. 3 general election.