2 Columbia County murder cases will go to trial soon



A Harlem 15-year-old is awaiting sentencing after being convicted last week of murdering his 14-year-old friend.

Aaron Schmidt faces life with or without parole. His sentencing hearing hasn’t yet been scheduled.

But other accused murders still await trial in Columbia County.

Thomas Eugene Bradford, 43, of Hephzibah, is accused of fatally shooting Raymond V. Lee, 38, at a Columbia County wastewater treatment plant on April 1. His trial is expected to begin Monday before Superior Court Judge David Roper, Assistant District Attorney Geoffrey Fogus said Tuesday.

Also on a trial calendar Monday are Deborah Yvonne Hill, 48, and her daughter, Brittany Michelle Hurst, 19. The pair are accused in the death of an 85-year-old woman in their care. Authorities say Blanche Aline Carpenter’s death wasn’t immediately reported and she died from medical complications of neglect inside Hill’s Locks Hill home on Aug. 25. Assistant District Attorney Pittman Morris said a mental evaluation was ordered for Hurst.

“We’re waiting to get the results back on that before we can go forward (with prosecution of the case),” Morris said.

Hurst was released from the Columbia County Detention Center on Dec. 8 after posting a $25,000 bond and Hill was released Jan. 4 after posting $50,000, according to jailers.

Another mother-child pair also are awaiting trial. Rebecca Bowers Sears, 44, and her 22-year-old son, Christopher Sean Bowers, are charged with murder and accused of using a bat and claw hammer to beat neighbor Laverne “Kay” Parsons to death on March 25, 2009. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Sears’ case was tentatively expected to head to a courtroom in April. But District Attorney Ashley Wright said because of a conflict with a scheduled trial in Richmond County, Sears and Bowers won’t go to trial in April and another date has not yet been set. Mother and son, by law, must have separate trials, Wright has said.

Another case that hasn’t yet seen a courtroom is the one against Johndrick Lors Levert Barnes, 20, of Augusta. He is accused in the March 19 fatal shooting of James Sterling Gillette Jr., 19. Gillette was working at the Belair Conference Center at a crowded 16th birthday party for one of James Brown’s grandchildren when the shooting occurred.

Five people, including a 16-year-old, were charged with making false statements. Deandre Tyrell Jones pleaded guilty in October and the juvenile pleaded guilty in Juvenile Court in July. The cases against Brandon Devon Berry, Morreio Demetrius Carswell and Jordan Dashawn Harrison are still pending, Assistant District Attorney Natalie Paine said.