Originally created 06/18/97

Local and area briefs



Jurors acquit rape defendant

An Augusta man was acquitted of a rape charge Tuesday by a Richmond County Superior Court jury.

Dale Thomas Herron, 44, of the 3000 block of Belair Road, had pleaded not guilty to the charge, and Tuesday the jury agreed that he didn't rape a 16-year-old girl on Sept. 1.

Mr. Herron has been held in jail since his arrest the night the teen-ager told police he had attacked her in her home. He had not been released as of Tuesday evening, according to Richmond County Jail records.

Civic center longs for rematch

In the eyes of some, Augusta is becoming the Ultimate place to be.

The people who put on the Ultimate Fighting Championship at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center on May 30 are talking about returning to town for another pay-per-view event, possibly in November, said General Manager Patrick Cumiskey.

The May event went on only after Ultimate Fighting dodged a last-minute attempt by the Georgia State Boxing Commission to stop the contest in court.

The civic center made more than $30,000 on the event, Mr. Cumiskey said, and it would definitely welcome a return of Ultimate Fighting.

Man indicted in banker's death

EATONTON - A Milledgeville man has been indicted in the shooting death of a Putnam County bank branch manager.

A grand jury indicted 21-year-old Anthony Torrence Veal on Monday in the slaying of Larry Ellington during a holdup April 15 at the Lake Sinclair branch of The Peoples Bank.

Mr. Ellington, 57, died May 24 of a gunshot wound to the abdomen. He had worked at The Peoples Bank for 15 years, bank officials said.

Sheriff Howard Sill said the robber walked through the front door of the bank and shot Mr. Ellington without saying a word

Board approves new schools

scGEORGETOWN - The Georgetown County school board has approved building two new schools to satisfy a federal desegregation order.

The board voted 7-1 Monday for new schools in the Carvers Bay area to serve all the middle- and high-school students from Choppee and Pleasant Hill.

The Justice Department is expected to approve the action. Justice officials had threatened to sue if the district did not desegregate all-black Choppee High School.

Also Monday, the board voted 8-0 to hold a bond referendum Sept. 20 to finance construction and remodeling projects.

Suspect charged in stabbing

CHARLESTON - Police have a suspect but have no explanation for why a North Charleston man was stabbed 71 times.

Arthur Watson, 37, was picked up Saturday in Charlotte, N.C., and charged Monday with the stabbing death of Fred Hamilton Lanning, 58.

Mr. Watson was an acquaintance of Mr. Lanning, said North Charleston police Lt. Melvin Cumbee. Police believe Mr. Lanning was killed either late June 7 or early June 8. His body was discovered June 9 when police entered his home after Mr. Lanning did not show up for work.

Alligator attends church

HILTON HEAD ISLAND - One visitor at St. Luke's Episcopal Church has the congregation reconsidering its open-door policy.

The Rev. Gregory Kronz found a 9-foot alligator waiting outside when he arrived at 6:15 a.m. Sunday to open the doors.

"The alligator had climbed three steps and was stretched across two doors and his mouth was hanging over the edge of the door," the Rev. Kronz said.

Beaufort County sheriff's deputies kept an eye on the alligator while worshipers were ushered in through another entrance.

Midway through the service, several loud thumps were heard. When church was over, the gator and the deputies were gone.

Joe Maffo of Critter Management said the alligator was snared and hauled away by the state Natural Resources Department.

Man charged in pair's deathsCHARLESTON Ä A 43-year-old man has been charged with the shooting deaths of his wife and her son.

Harry Duffy, of Alvin, was arrested Sunday night. The shooting victims were Mary Lou Czaskos Duffy, 49, of Alvin, and her son, Jason Czaskos, 20, of Hampton, N.J., said Berkeley County Coroner Wade Arnette.

The victims were found in the back seat of a car parked in Francis Marion National Forest in Berkeley County, Mr. Arnette said.

Peggy Baker, manager of a lounge in Moncks Corner where Mrs. Duffy worked, said Mrs. Duffy told her that her husband was upset because Mrs. Duffy's son from another marriage was coming to live with them.

Bodies of woman, baby found

The bodies of a missing Colleton County woman and her infant daughter have been found in a makeshift grave, leading authorities to quickly arrest two suspects.

Hattie Mae Yates, 31, and her 27-day-old daughter, Moesha Laire Yates, were found about 12:45 a.m. Tuesday, sheriff's deputies said. They were buried in a deep grave in a wooded area about 30 yards from Round O Road.

James Smith, 35, of Round O and his 37year-old girlfriend, Darlene Winningham, were arrested and charged with two counts of murder.

The victims were last seen May 31. Ms. Yates, who lived about 10 miles west of Walterboro, told relatives she was going to meet a man who would sell her some food stamps.

Money allocated for schools

COLUMBIA - Nearly $4.5 million has been earmarked for South Carolina schools in a federal program to help low-income students enter college, U.S. Sen. Ernest F. Hollings said.

A total of 4,827 students at 24 colleges will receive assistance for the upcoming school year through the Student Support Services program, sponsored by the U.S. Education Department.

- Compiled by Mike Hill