Originally created 02/26/97

Local and region briefs



No serious charges expected in shooting

Minor criminal charges - such as misdemeanor reckless conduct - are the most that relatives may face in the fatal shooting Monday night of a 3-year-old boy by his 7-year-old brother at their south Augusta home, Richmond County officials said Tuesday.

There are no laws that specifically address children's access to guns or other weapons, District Attorney Danny Craig said.

"Government agencies like the Department of Family and Children Services address parenting skills and the general health, well-being and safety of children," he said. "Unfortunately, many times those agencies find themselves intervening after the fact - after something tragic happens."

Joquan B. Gaines died about 8 p.m. Monday in a bedroom at {the}a home in the 3000 block of Tate Road, said Coroner Leroy Sims. He was shot shortly before 7:30 p.m. by his brother Corey, said Chief Deputy Ronald Strength of the Richmond County Sheriff's Department.

The shooting took place when Corey and Joquan were in a bedroom with several guns and a rifle. They were talking about the guns when Corey picked up a fully loaded 12-gauge shotgun and pulled the trigger, hitting his brother in the left side of the head, police said.

The boys' mother, Shandra Gaines, 24, told police she was out shopping when the shooting took place, and the boys were home with their uncles, who are ages 21 and 14.{The shot gun used in the shooting

belonged to Joquan's 21-year-old uncle, and it was his room where the shooting happened, police said. Police have checked the guns in the home and none was stolen.

Police were still investigating the shooting and they weren't sure if any charges would be filed. But if so reckless conduct -- a misdemeanor -- charges would be filed, said Chief Deputy Strength.

Mother of defendant indicted

The mother of a man convicted Friday of stealing morphine was indicted Tuesday by a Richmond County grand jury over statements she made to the district attorney.

The indictment accuses Helen Italia Anderson, 55, of the 2600 block of Woodbluff Circle, of telling District Attorney Danny Craig of a conspiracy to plan Mr. Craig's murder when she knew the statement was false and unlawful.

Ms. Anderson went to Mr. Craig's office Monday to talk about {concerning}her son, William Michael Italia, 35, who had pleaded guilty Friday in Richmond County Superior Court and received a five-year probated sentence.

Mr. Italia admitted stealing morphine that was supposed to be used to sedate patients undergoing cardiac catheterization at the Medical College of Georgia. According to his confession, he replaced the morphine with a saline solution.

Man robs convenience store

AIKEN - A Hitchcock Parkway convenience store was robbed early Tuesday by a bandit who claimed he had a gun, authorities said.

About 12:20 a.m., a man with a coat draped over his arm emerged from a bathroom at Smile Gas, 315 Hitchcock Parkway, after the clerk returned to the store from emptying the garbage, said Lt. Michael Frank of the Aiken County Sheriff's Office. The man demanded money and said he had a gun, Lt. Frank said.

The robber took an undisclosed amount of money and fled in a red Jeep Cherokee with a South Carolina tag, Lt. Frank said.

The subject is described as a 5-foot, 140-pound white man with blond hair and blue eyes. He was wearing a camouflage jacket, a red uniform-type shirt and blue work pants.

Health panel to meet in Augusta

A group charged with monitoring health around Savannah River Site will meet in Augusta on Thursday and Friday to present an update of its findings and get public input.

The Savannah River Site Health Effects Subcommittee, which is a part of a citizens advisory group that advises the Department of Energy and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will meet at 8:30 a.m. Thursday at Sheraton Augusta Hotel, 2651 Perimeter Parkway.

The group will hear updates on the health of people within a 50-mile study area around the plant. It will take public comments both days.

Little sewage spilled into creek

Only a minimal amount of raw sewage spilled over into a creek on the grounds of a Richmond County wastewater lift station that was vandalized, a county utilities official said Tuesday.

Between last Wednesday and Saturday, someone broke into the lift station at 955 Molly Pond Road by driving a vehicle through the facility's locked gate, according to a police report.

The vandals threw metal safety grates into the creek, shot out a street light, damaged a fuse box and closed the station's overflow gate, causing raw sewage to seep into the creek, the report said. The spillage was small, however, and the creek is not a source of drinking water, said Tom Weidmeir, assistant director of the county utilities department.

Mr. Weidmeir said whoever caused the damage was familiar with the lift station's operations. Property damage is estimated at $500.

Club donates money for vests

AIKEN - The Aiken Sertoma Club donated $1,000 to a private, nonprofit group to purchase updated bulletproof vests for the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.

The Sertoma Club donated the money to INVEST - a Columbia-based group that helps raise money to purchase body armor for police officers in South Carolina.

The money will be used to buy two new bulletproof vests for deputies, Sheriff Howard Sellers said.

"We're very proud of their participation," the sheriff said.

{ He}Sheriff Sellers and the county council sparred in October about buying body armor after he asked IN-VEST to help raise money to buy the vests.

Council members said that he never approached them about buying vests and that calling in a private group made it look as though {like}they didn't care about the safety of county employees.

Democrats cancel monthly meeting

AIKEN - The Aiken County Democratic Party has canceled its monthly meeting scheduled for Thursday{Feb. 27} at the Aiken County Council Annex.

The group will meet again at 7 p.m. March 27 at the council annex, county party Chairman Kent Brown said.

For more information, call Mr. Brown at 652-1356.

Superintendent recommends firing

SAVANNAH - The school superintendent in Savannah has recommended the firing of a middle school teacher accused of asking black pupils what color underwear they were wearing.

Superintendent Patrick Russo recommended Monday that Wilder Middle School science teacher Dennis White be fired. The Savannah-Chatham County school board will hold a hearing on the recommendation March 5.

Several parents contacted district officials Feb. 11, accusing Mr. White of singling out black pupils during a lesson on statistics.

The Rev. Leonard Small, a spokesman for the group, accused Mr. White of asking the black pupils in one of his science classes to stand up and state what color underwear they were wearing to prove a statistical point.

The Rev. Small said only black children were asked the question.

Mr. White could not be reached for comment.

Missing man's body found in grave

LEXINGTON - The body of a man missing since December has been found in a shallow grave near his home. Two men who had been living with him are charged with murder.

Kenneth Pink, 57, of Arnoldsville was found shot to death after one of the men told investigators about an argument that led to Mr. Pink's slaying, said Col. Mike Smith of Oglethorpe County Sheriff's Department. Col. Smith said the acquaintance told investigators where to find Mr. Pink's body.

Michael Whiteaker, 29, of Crawford, and James Alfred May, 25, of Greensboro, were charged Monday with first-degree murder in connection with Mr. Pink's slaying, Col Smith said. The two men had moved from Mr. Pink's residence two or three days after the slaying, he said.

The shooting reportedly took place Dec. 26, not long after Mr. Pink was considered missing.

Crime spree suspect surrenders

ALBANY - A suspect in a fatal weekend crime spree returned from Florida and surrendered to Terrell County law enforcement officials.

Jesse James Harris, 42, was being held Monday in Dougherty County on charges of murder, kidnapping, car hijacking, aggravated assault and armed robbery, according to jail records. No bond or arraignment hearing was set.

Mr. Harris is charged in the Friday shooting death of Donnell Keith White. He is also accused of kidnapping a friend, Mary Wright, at gunpoint and forcing her to drive him to Daytona Beach, Fla. The two had car trouble and traveled by bus to Columbus, where he released her Sunday, police said.

Mr. Harris surrendered in Parrott on Monday morning to deputies alerted by a newspaper carrier.

Jesse Jackson's grandmother dies

GREENVILLE - The Rev. Jesse Jackson is mourning another close family member less than a month after his father died.

The Rev. Jackson's 92-year-old maternal grandmother, Matilda Burns, died Sunday afternoon at a local nursing home.

"Grandma is the matriarch," said the Rev. Jackson, who planned to fly home to his native Greenville from Chicago on Tuesday night. "She was the glue that held us together. She worked two jobs to help sustain our family. She was the strength and the major motivation to help us pursue our dreams."

The Rev. Jackson's father, Noah Robinson, died Jan. 27 after being hospitalized { here}for heart problems. He was 88.

- Compiled by Mike Hill