Originally created 08/30/97

Local and area briefs



Men get probation for armed robbery

Three Augusta men who were high school students in January when they held up the Comedy House Theatre and struck an employee with a gun received 20-year probationary sentences Friday.

As part of the plea negotiation, the armed robbery and other charges were reduced to three counts robbery by force, each man paid $10,400 in fines and restitution, and each will spend one year in the detention center and serve the remaining 19 years on probation.

Eugene Crawford, 18, of the 3700 block of Walton Way Extension, Malcolm Cook, 18, of the 900 block of Pear Street, and Meekaaeel McCullum, 18, of the 100 block of Kings Chapel Road admitted Friday in Richmond County Superior Court that they robbed the Comedy House Theatre on Jan. 24.

Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet accepted the plea negotiation, although he expressed doubts about it. He also placed the three men on first offender status, which means if they get into trouble again, they can be resentenced to as much as 60 years in prison. If the three men successfully complete probation, the convictions will be erased from their records.

Firm to study court facilities

Representatives from an Atlanta architectural firm met Friday with Columbia County officials to discuss a proposed expansion of the county's burdened criminal justice facilities.

The firm - Rosser Justice Systems - was picked earlier this month by commissioners to study the future needs of county court and law enforcement facilities.

Friday's meeting - with representatives from Superior, Probate and Magistrate courts, as well as those from the sheriff's and district attorney's offices - was primarily to assess the scope of the project, said Columbia County Administrator Steve Szablewski.

Officer appeals evaluation

A lieutenant with the Aiken Department of Public Safety had a public appeal hearing Friday after receiving what he believed to be an unfair evaluation in July that kept him from getting a raise.

Lt. Frank Conoly, who has been with the department for 20 years, appealed the evaluation, which said he did satisfactory work. Lt. Conoly argued that since he received a letter of appreciation for outstanding service in May, as well as other letters and certificates from the city and community praising his abilities, his evaluation should have been better and he should have gotten a raise.

Lee Allen, a state staff representative for the Police Benevolence Association acting as spokesman for Mr. Conoly, said the lieutenant received a standard evaluation. He said an above standard evaluation commands a 2 1/2 percent salary increase, while an excellent or outstanding evaluation brings with it a 5 percent increase.

A committee hearing Lt. Conoly's appeal has 20 days to make a decision, but City Manager Steve Thompson will have final say on the matter.

Chief: Burglary spree over

GROVETOWN - The arrest of three Grovetown teen-agers has put a stop to a rash of burglaries that occurred in the past two months, Public Safety Chief John Tomberlin said Friday.

Johnny Larry Radford and Benjamin Bagley, both 17 and of the 100 block of Fifth Avenue, were arrested Thursday. Each is charged with one count of burglary. Mr. Radford also was charged with being party to a crime. Also arrested was a 15-year-old male - whose name was withheld - charged with five counts of burglary.

Grovetown authorities expect to recover about $6,000 in stolen goods from residences and pawnshops, Chief Tomberlin said.

Meningitis patient recovering

MACON - A fifth-grader at Winship Magnet School is doing well after being diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, health officials said Friday.

The student, whose name was not released, was being treated at Medical Center of Central Georgia, said Don McKinney, communicable diseases supervisor for the North Central Georgia District Health Office.

Meningitis, an infection and inflammation of the central nervous system, typically strikes people under 30. It is spread only by very close contact such as kissing or sneezing. Symptoms include fever, neck stiffness, nausea, dizziness and a purple rash.

Death row appeal denied

ATLANTA - The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to lift the stay of execution for Timothy Don Carr, who was scheduled to die Friday in Georgia's electric chair.

Mr. Carr, 27, missed a June deadline to appeal his conviction to the Supreme Court because he did not have an attorney. Monroe County Superior Court Judge Arch W. McGarity then set the execution for anytime between Thursday and noon Sept. 5.

Judge McGarity granted Mr. Carr a stay of execution Wednesday to give two lawyers from Wisconsin time to ask the nation's high court to review Mr. Carr's tardy appeal.

Mr. Carr was convicted in 1994 along with Melissa Leslie Burgeson in the October 1992 murder of Keith Patrick Young, 17, of Warner Robins. Mr. Carr, then 22, stabbed Mr. Young, hit him with a baseball bat and slit his throat before stealing the teen's wallet and car.

Contamination closes beach

MYRTLE BEACH - Six hundred feet of beach near Withers Swash will be closed until further notice because tests found evidence of bacterial contamination.

Myrtle Beach has been testing the water in the swash and nearby ocean since Tuesday, when the city learned that a private pump station had failed, leaking sewage into the stormwater drainage system.

"When we open the beach will depend on what happens to the numbers in Withers Swash going west of the bulkhead," Myrtle Beach spokesman Pat Dowling said Thursday. "We will need to see the results of more tests."

The bulkhead is where water from the swash runs east under Ocean Boulevard, pours onto the beach and spills into the ocean.

Mr. Dowling stressed that the beach closing is a precautionary measure.

"We realize it is Labor Day weekend," he said. "But there are tons of beach out there. We've closed 600 feet."