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COLUMBUS, GA. — A judge in Columbus says five people will stand trial together in the death of a minister who was fatally shot in what appears to be a case of mistaken identity.

Pastor Blanchard Thomas was shot to death in March 2011 while trying to help the victim of a sexual assault.

Thomas had driven the reported victim to her family’s home. But relatives and others there allegedly mistook the 44-year-old Thomas as someone involved in the attack.

Thomas was taken to a dead end road and shot, officials said. That’s where his body was found.

Four of the five defendants are related to the woman the pastor was trying to help. All five will stand trial together beginning June 10.

Family suspects foul play in deaths

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Charleston County sheriff’s officials say they’ll continue to investigate what happened to two men whose bodies were found in a submerged vehicle in a Hollywood creek.

Coroner Rae Wooten on Saturday identified the bodies as 26-year-old Joshua Fenley and 22-year-old Otis Brown Jr., who had been reported as missing. Wooten says both men drowned in Toogoodoo Creek.

But cousin Patricia Smalls said she thinks the men were chased.

Before the coroner’s ruling, family members said the Ford Explorer had been damaged on one side, and they didn’t know why either man would have gone near the Toogoodoo boat landing on Yonges Island.

Both men had been missing since May 28. They were last seen at a wedding reception in Rantowles and a party on Yonges Island.

In other news

POLICE IN DALTON say a woman turned in her own son for having sex with an underage girl. Terrance Turner, 20, is now charged with a sex offense. Turner, his mother and a sibling were staying with another family in the north Georgia city. Turner’s mother called police to report her son had sex with a juvenile girl living at the house.

FEDERAL BUDGET cuts mean temperatures are rising at Robins Air Force Base in central Georgia, where officials are bumping up air conditioner thermostats to 80 degrees at the base to save money. That’s 2 degrees higher than the Air Force standard of 78 degrees. The supervisor of the base’s energy office, Terry Landreth, said workers are being understanding about the change despite the prospect of working in 80-degree offices.


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