Originally created 04/02/97

Local and regional news briefs



Student arrested on gun charge

A Westside High School student has been arrested for taking a gun to school, allegedly with plans to use the weapon to threaten a teacher, school police said.

The student, a juvenile whose name was not released, was taken to the Regional Youth Development Center on Monday, said Maj. Mike Farrell, school police chief.

The boy had a 9 mm pistol and a full magazine clip in a book bag, but the gun was not loaded, Maj. Farrell said.

Another Westside student, acting confidentially, alerted officials to the weapon.

The boy told police someone else slipped the gun into his bag.

Maj. Farrell said the boy allegedly was angry with a teacher and supposedly took the weapon to school as a result.

Special election to be held

A special election will be held Aug. 5 to fill the New Ellenton town council seat vacated Tuesday by Chris Beam, said Denton Johnson, director of the Aiken County Election Commission and Voter Registration Board.

Mr. Johnson said the council will need to pass a resolution calling for the election and asking Aiken County to conduct it.

But he said he has discussed the election date, mandated by state law, with town officials.

Mr. Beam handed in his letter of resignation on Monday. He said work and family obligations left him too little time to devote to council duties.

This will be the third special election within a year to fill vacated council seats.

On Nov. 5, Mayor Paul Parker and Joe Gleaton won council seats vacated in June and July by former Mayor Art Hanna and Councilman Michael Terry, respectively.

In January, Vernon Dunbar won the seat previously held by former acting Mayor Eldon "Cork" Berry, who resigned in August soon after he and four other council members, including Mr. Beam, returned to work after they resigned jointly to Gov. David Beasley.

Man indicted in mother's death

A former mental hospital patient accused of killing his mother on Christmas Eve 1993 was indicted on murder charges Tuesday by a Richmond County grand jury.

An indictment was issued for Mark Newsome, 29, formerly of 2530 Blueberry Drive, the home of his mother, 63-year-old Betty Newsome Jenson, who died from head injuries.

Mr. Newsome had been a patient at Georgia Regional Hospital but was released Aug. 24, 1993, hospital spokesman Brian Mulherin said that year. He was being treated at Medical College of Georgia, but his mother checked him out for 48 hours that Christmas Eve.

Mr. Newsome is expected to be arraigned April 11.

Woman tried in murder case

A murder trial began Tuesday in Richmond County Superior Court for a jury to determine the fate of a 29-year-old Augusta woman accused of the shooting death of a man nearly five years ago.

Demetrius Murray has pleaded not guilty to charges of felony murder, malice murder and use of a weapon during the commission of a crime. The jury could reach a verdict in the case today.

Ms. Murray is accused of shooting 24-year-old Anthony Meredith Bryant as he sat in a car in Eastgate apartment complex on July 19, 1993. Mr. Bryant, shot in the side with a .22-caliber weapon, died the next day at the Medical College of Georgia Hospital.

Witnesses testified Tuesday that Mr. Bryant had lived with Ms. Murray's brother for a time and had developed problems with him and his family.

Man pleads guilty in killing

A former Augusta resident pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter Tuesday in connection with the killing of his uncle nearly nine years ago.

Bernard King Christie, 38, admitted to taking part in robbing and killing the Rev. Clarence Travis, 78, on April 20, 1988. On Tuesday in Richmond County Superior Court, Judge William M. Fleming Jr. sentenced Mr. Christie to 20 years in prison, the maximum sentence possible.

The Rev. Travis' homicide was unsolved until 1994. Investigator Tim Taylor interviewed witnesses who saw Mr. Christie at the Rev. Travis' Mercier Street home the night of his death and confronted Mr. Christie, who had denied seeing his uncle in April 1988. In 1994, Mr. Christie was serving a life sentence in prison for murder and robbery for killing a man July 4, 1992.

Both homicide victims had been slashed with a knife and had their throats cut. Mr. Christie told investigators that the killings resulted because he needed money to buy crack cocaine.

Jones won't add TV station

North Augusta religion-programming station WBM (Channel 36) will not be added to Jones Intercable's lineup, despite Monday's Supreme Court ruling about cable and local stations.

The ruling says cable TV operators can be forced to carry the signals of all the TV broadcasters in their area, but it doesn't apply to low-power stations, such as WBM.

Dorothy Spaulding, station co-owner, said the decision opens the path for other rulings that apply to low-power stations.

"This was a positive for us," she said. "We're really excited."

Commission OKs antennas

Aiken's Historic Preservation Commission gave thumbs up Tuesday to the city council's request to add cellular phone antennas to a water tower on the west side of York Street near South Boundary Street.

On Mar. 24, the city council approved on first reading an ordinance that would allow three antennas to be located on the tower. They needed the Historic Preservation Commission's approval because the tower's in the historic district.

Second reading and a public hearing is slated for April 14.

The antennas, belonging to Powertel/Atlanta Inc., would measure 5 feet in length and 2 inches in diameter. They would be placed 120 degrees apart on the water tank.

Allowing the antennas to be placed on existing structures in the city is expected to help minimize the number of cellular phone towers that may sprout up.

With the council's approval, Powertel will pay a lease fee of $10,000 per year for using the tower the first five years. The lease is for 15 years. At the end of each five-year period the lease amount would increase by 15 percent.

Former president to speak

Former Augusta Technical Institute President Jack Patrick will deliver the fall/winter-quarter commencement address at 7 p.m. Thursday at Bell Auditorium.

The event is open to graduates and their families.

Counterfeit $20s cropping up

MOULTRIE - Authorities are seeking the source of more than $1,200 in high-quality counterfeit bills that appeared in two southwest Georgia counties during March.

Colquitt County Sheriff's Department Investigator Hector Rodriguez said Monday the department has made four arrests of people trying to pass phony $20 bills since the first week of March.

He said the bills have the same serial number, beginning with an L and ending in 810D.

Investigator Rodriguez said that 41 bills have been either confiscated or discovered in Colquitt County and that the U.S. Secret Service told him 20 more were found in Camilla in adjacent Mitchell County.

Each of the four arrested was being held without bond charged with forgery, although the Secret Service plans to charge them federally, Investigator Rodriguez said.

Fate of `Playboy' uncertain

GREENVILLE - Seven patrons have offered to pay for the county library's subscription to Playboy, which religious conservatives want removed from the shelves.

But offers to pick up the $29.97 annual cost won't be a factor in deciding whether to keep the magazine, library officials say. They only will consider the magazine's value to patrons.

Conservative politicians also say the offers don't alter their feelings.

"In addition to the subscription fee, there is the cost of placing it in a restricted area and the cost of employees maintaining lists and restrictions, the additional hassle of it. So the fact someone pays for the subscription doesn't address the issue," Greenville County Councilman Scott Case said Monday. "The issue is whether the library should carry a magazine that is ostensibly pornography by anyone's definition."

Playboy has been available to adults at the library's reference desk for 37 years with little public attention.

- Compiled by Mike Hill