Originally created 05/25/97

Local and regional area briefs



Group to sponsor trip to Still launch

Do you want to see Susan Still's second launch into space? The CSRA Trauma Society has room on two chartered buses to Cape Canaveral, Fla., for the Augusta native's July 1 space shuttle launch.

The group is leaving Augusta on June 29 and will tour Kennedy Space Center as well as view the launch from a designated viewing area at the space center. For information, call Greg Brooks at 860-8583.

Sentence of castration imposed

ALBANY - An Albany teen-ager convicted of aggravated child molestation has become the first candidate for chemical castration under a new Georgia law allowing the procedure, officials said.

Superior Court Judge Herbert Phipps sentenced Haywood Bernard Shelley, 18, on Friday to undergo psychiatric evaluation to determine whether use of a drug and counseling therapy would effectively prevent him from offending again.

He was also sentenced to 20 years in prison, ordered to get a GED diploma and learn a trade while in prison.

Mr. Shelley was convicted May 13 of molesting a 6-year-old girl while baby-sitting at her home April 14, 1996.

Legislation authorizing chemical castration was signed by Gov. Zell Miller on May 1. It will not take effect until July 1, but Judge Phipps could levy the sentence because of the broad discretion granted judges, District Attorney Ken Hodges said.

Mr. Hodges said his office sought chemical castration because of the high rate of repeat offenders in child molestation cases.

McKinney endorses candidate

ATLANTA - State Sen. Floyd Griffin launched his campaign for lieutenant governor Saturday with an endorsement from U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney.

Mr. Griffin, a Milledgeville Democrat, wants to become the first black to win the No. 2 job at the state Capitol.

But five other Democrats, among them key lieutenants of Gov. Zell Miller and Lt. Gov. Pierre Howard, have also entered the race, along with four Republicans.

At a news conference on the Capitol steps, Mr. Griffin insisted the race issue won't play a major role in his campaign.

"I was elected in a district that's 64 percent registered white voters, and I think the citizens of the middle district of Georgia did not take race into consideration when they voted for me," said Mr. Griffin, elected to his second term in the state Senate last year.

Using Memorial Day weekend as a backdrop, the 53-year-old Mr. Griffin touted his military record. The retired Army colonel now works as a funeral home director.

Three churches vandalized

STONE MOUNTAIN - A racially mixed church was struck by vandals who scrawled taunting racial epithets on walls and set a small fire in the kitchen, authorities said.

A construction crew that arrived a short time later at Stone Mountain Seventh-day Adventist Church in Smoke Rise discovered the fire, which had been set on top of the stove, said Larry Murray, assistant special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. DeKalb County firefighters extinguished the blaze before it spread beyond the kitchen.

The church was one of three within a half-mile radius in Stone Mountain that were vandalized early Friday.

At St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, windows were broken and articles torn from the altar sometime in the night, said DeKalb fire Battalion Chief Marvin Irvine. A window was broken at Valley Brook Baptist Church school, but an alarm apparently frightened the burglars away, he said.

Mr. Murray said federal agents were investigating whether the incidents were linked and whether they were hate crimes.

Man arrested for public nudity

DULUTH - A North Carolina man was charged with public indecency after walking into a convenience store dressed only in socks and making sexual threats to the clerk, police said.

The clerk locked herself inside her cash register cubicle Friday and called Gwinnett County Police after the 6-foot, 250-pound man left the store and attempted to pump gas into his truck.

Cpl. P.L. Rude said Arthur Harvey Smith, 59, of Hayesville, N.C., resisted arrest and climbed into his truck.

"Once inside the truck, Smith grabbed his Bible. He said the reason he did this was preachers and Christians wouldn't stand up for Jesus, and he was there to embarrass into it," Cpl. Rude said.

Mr. Smith was held at the Gwinnett County Detention Center in lieu of $5,000 bond.

Boy started fire that killed him

DAWSON - A fire that killed a 5-year-old boy was accidentally started by him, either by matches or with a lighter, a state fire commissioner spokesman said.

An investigation showed at least one adult was home at the time of the Wednesday evening fire but could not rescue Jonteries Rashad Amos because of the heat, spokesman Glenn Allen said Friday.

The Bronwood boy was staying with his aunt, Vontriesa Bowens. Mr. Allen said he had no information on the adults at home.

Three convicted in drug slaying

ALBANY - Two men were convicted of murder and a third pleaded guilty to lesser charges after testifying against them in the robbery-slaying of an alleged crack dealer.

A Superior Court jury Friday also convicted Neil Eugene Lewis, 18, and Robert Edward Reed, 29, of armed robbery and possession of a firearm during commission of a felony. They will be sentenced next month.

Larry Martin Hunt, 25, pleaded guilty to theft by taking. Judge Herbert Phipps sentenced him to a 10-year probated sentence that banishes him from Dougherty County for 10 years.

Mr. Hunt testified that he, Mr. Lewis and Mr. Reed went to the home of Deveron Bullock, 22, on July 24 to rob him.

Suspect admits to child's death

ALBANY - A woman accused in the scalding death of a 5-year-old boy pleaded guilty to an involuntary manslaughter charge and is expected to testify against the boy's mother, a defense attorney said.

Gloria Atkins, 42, faced nearly all the same charges in the death of Brad McCray as the boy's mother, Topeka McCray, including malice murder and felony murder, according to court records.

The roommates were accused of submerging the boy to his waist in scalding bath water for soiling his pants in November 1993.

The two were to be tried together June 2. However, Ms. McCray's attorney, David Perry, said Ms. Atkins pleaded guilty Friday to the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter, in addition to cruelty to a child and concealing the death of another.

- Compiled by Brad Schrade