Across South Carolina

SC man pleads to killing 2 women


FLORENCE, S.C. - A South Carolina man charged with killing two women whose bodies were found more than a year ago has pleaded in their deaths.

Multiple media outlets reported that 43-year-old Tommy Johnson of Florence was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday afternoon in Florence.

Florence Police Chief Anson Shells says Johnson was charged with murder in the deaths of 42-year-old Joretha Lynn Kirk and 51-year-old Rachel Samuel.

Johnson pleaded guilty to murder in Kirk's death and entered an Alford plea in Samuel's death. An Alford plea does not admit guilt but concedes there is enough evidence to result in a conviction.

Shells says the investigation determined the women were killed in Johnson's house on separate occasions. Their bodies were found in shallow graves in October, 2008.

SC teen arrested in attack on educator

ROCK HILL, S.C. - A South Carolina teen has been arrested and accused of assaulting a school official.

The Herald of Rock Hill reported that 18-year-old Martin Tiawan Ware of Rock Hill is charged with assault and battery on a school official, disturbing schools and two counts of threatening an official or their family.

Ware also is accused of assaulting an officer during the arrest Jan. 14 at the Applied Technology Center.

A police report released Tuesday says Ware is accused of assaulting the school's director while shouting obscenities at him. The director's name was not released.

The report says the officer had to threaten Ware with a Taser during the arrest.

The report says Ware threatened the officer's family, the officer and the school director.

It was unclear if Ware had an attorney.

SC legislators weigh health food at schools

COLUMBIA, S.C. - A bill banning high-sugar, high-fat foods from being sold to South Carolina students during the school day is entering its third year of debate.

A Senate panel postponed voting Wednesday on legislation aimed at curbing childhood obesity in a state with one of the nation's highest rates of overweight and obese youth, just as a new survey released by the state Education Department shows one in six high school students in the state are obese.

Democratic Rep. Bakari Sellers of Denmark says giving students only healthy options could save lives and money.

The rules apply to all food sold in cafeterias, vending machines and school stores. Fundraising sales by students and parent groups are exempted.

The House approved the bill last year.

SC attorney joins lieutenant gov race as Democrat

CHARLESTON, S.C. - An attorney in a coastal South Carolina city has become the first Democrat to join the race to become the state's next lieutenant governor.

Ashley Cooper of Charleston said Wednesday he is joining the race to focus on creating jobs in a state that often has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.

Cooper is a graduate of Clemson University and the University of South Carolina School of Law. He worked on U.S. Sen. Ernest F. "Fritz" Hollings' staff and now practices energy law in Charleston.

Charleston Rep. Tim Scott, Florence businessman Ken Ard and Orangeburg lawyer Bill Connor are vying for the Republican nomination to replace Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer.

Bauer is seeking to become the Republican candidate for governor.

SC teacher to announce race for superintendent

COLUMBIA, S.C. - A South Carolina teacher is running as a Republican for state schools superintendent.

Kelly Payne of Irmo plans to officially announce her candidacy Thursday at EdVenture Children's Museum in Columbia. Payne has taught civics and history at Dutch Fork High School since 2005.

Her three children, ages 12 to 16, attend public schools in Lexington 5.

Payne is the creator and adviser of a group known as the "It Kids," which gets students involved in politics and community service. She also started a teen driver safety program that's now in 19 schools.

Other Republicans in the race include Elizabeth Moffly of Awendaw, Furman professor Brent Nelson, and Newberry College president Mick Zais (ZAY'-ihs). Frank Holleman of Greenville is the sole Democrat in the race so far.

Sheriff: SC woman found dead in coastal apartment

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. - Authorities say someone killed an 84-year-old South Carolina woman found dead in a wheelchair inside her apartment.

Police told The Island Packet of Hilton Head Island that a caretaker found the woman's body on Sunday.

Sheriff P.J. Tanner says there was obvious evidence someone else killed her, but he wouldn't elaborate.

Tanner said results of the woman's autopsy released Wednesday determined she was asphyxiated.

The sheriff says investigators have people they are looking at, but haven't named any suspects. They also haven't determined a motive for the killing.

The identity of the victim has not been released.

SC man admits killing 83-year-old stuffed in trunk

CONWAY, S.C. - A South Carolina man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to killing an 83-year-old man whose body was found in the trunk of a car parked at a coastal restaurant.

Prosecutors told The Sun News of Myrtle Beach that 41-year-old Jeffrey Smith pleaded guilty on Wednesday to voluntary manslaughter, strong-arm robbery and several forgery and fraud charges.

Smith had been charged with murder in the death of Joseph McMillan, who authorities say was found in the trunk of his car in October 2007 when a Nyrtle Beach restaurant employee smelled a foul odor. Police say he had been killed eight days earlier.

Prosecutors say Smith committed the fraud and forgeries after killing McMillan in October 2007.