Originally created 11/27/97

Additional area news



Motorist robbed by men with guns

An Augusta man was robbed at gunpoint while he was driving in his car in downtown Augusta early Wednesday morning.

The 31-year-old man was in the 1600 block of Ellis Street about 1 a.m. when three masked men pulled up alongside him. One of them got out of the vehicle, brandished a gun and demanded money.

The victim turned over his wallet and $11, according to reports.

Blessing of the Hounds set

AIKEN -- The 83rd Blessing of the Hounds will be held today at 11 a.m. at Hitchcock Woods. Visitors should use the entrance at South Boundary and Laurens Street, near Aiken County Historical Museum.

The traditional ceremony opens the hunt season and is a Thanksgiving tradition that draws some 200 people each year. The blessing is offered by a priest and precedes the first drag hunt of the season, where horses, riders and hounds follow the scent of a live fox that has been dragged through the woods on a rope.

The blessing dates back to the sixth century and St. Hubert of Liege, the patron saint of hunters.

Christmas in Dixie begins

CRAWFORDVILLE, GA. -- The Christmas in Dixie light display will kick off another holiday season tonight at dark.

This is the 13th year that the Bennett family has held the event on its property, and this year's display is bigger than ever, said Marge Crouch, who works with the Bennetts to organize the event.

"We've got a few new displays, and we've increased the number of lights," she said.

Christmas in Dixie features life-size displays depicting the Christmas story, more than 230,000 lights strung on close to 500 trees, and refreshments and crafts for sale.

Admission is free. The display will be open from dark until 11 p.m. weeknights and midnight on weekends.

Aiken County to receive funds

AIKEN -- South Carolina Comptroller Earle Morris announced Wednesday that Aiken County will receive more than $7 million to make up for money lost from property tax cuts.

Aiken's share is part of $188 million released in general state funds to pay for taxes lost through the South Carolina Residential Relief Program. Counties normally would get this money in the spring of 1998.

As part of the same program, Barnwell County will receive $782,000 and Edgefield County will get $1.3 million, according to the state comptroller's office.

Aiken County can expect to receive $6.6 million Monday, or 90 percent of their total share. The remaining funds will arrive next spring.

Audit shows security lapses

ATLANTA -- An internal audit pointed to several security lapses during the escape of a convicted killer from Hays State Prison last month.

A Department of Corrections report says the audit showed little control over keys, especially those to restricted areas; that inmates were in the areas between inside fences and outside gates while delivery trucks were in them, and that records were lacking notations of the reasons inmates entered or left cellblocks.

Corrections spokesman Mike Light said most of the problems have been addressed since the Nov. 10 audit.

The audit was conducted after Marvin Turner, 24, walked out the front door of the northwest Georgia prison Oct. 19 using an identification card for a prisoner scheduled to be released that day. He was recaptured Oct. 30.

Three arrested after chase

DUBLIN -- Three people in a stolen car were arrested Wednesday afternoon after a high-speed chase on Interstate 16 involving at least 20 police cars, authorities said.

Kevin Conner, a deputy with the Monroe County sheriff's department, said the chase started in Forsyth, about 60 miles southeast of Atlanta, when he stopped the car, which was stolen from Gwinnett County.

The chase, which involved the Georgia State Patrol as well as sheriff's deputies from Monroe, Bibb, Twiggs and Laurens counties, lasted about 70 miles. The car went as fast as 120 mph, Deputy Conner said.

Man sentenced to life in prison

BRUNSWICK -- A former sanitation worker was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday after pleading guilty to the 1993 slayings of two Brunswick women and an infant boy.

Carl Harris, 60, of Brunswick, pleaded guilty to malice murder in the deaths of Cheryl Lewrisey Coleman, 33, her 2-month-old son, Jamar'ee and Essie Marie Dowdy, 53, over a five-month period.

Superior Court Judge Amanda F. Williams on Wednesday sentenced Mr. Harris to life without parole for each of the killings and to 20 years in prison for aggravated assault. The sentences will run concurrently.

Four people die in plane crash

FLORENCE -- A man, a woman and two teen-age girls were killed Wednesday afternoon when a small plane crashed in a densely wooded area near Florence Regional Airport, Florence County Coroner M.G. "Bubba" Matthews said.

The pilot was trying to make an emergency landing, but the Velocity RG-Standard aircraft went down about 4:45 p.m. a mile north of the runway, said Preston Hicks, chief of the Southeast field office of the National Transportation Safety Board.

The pilot had reported an engine malfunction to the airport tower, Mr. Hicks said.

Rescue workers and firefighters cut trails to the crash site, and the bodies were removed from the wreckage within two hours, the coroner said.

The victims' names were not released. Officials were trying to contact next of kin in the Delray Beach and West Palm Beach, Fla., area, Mr. Matthews said.

Mr. Hicks said the home-built, single-engine experimental plane was registered to a Mark Ewart. He would not provide Ewart's hometown.

Son held in parents' deaths

ROCK HILL -- The son of a Rock Hill couple found slain in their home and the 18-year-old woman he traveled with were arrested in Philadelphia on Wednesday and held in connection with the killings.

James O. Robertson, 24, and Meredith Leann Moon, 18, were being held until they could be extradited, York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant said

WBTV in Charlotte, N.C., said the two will face murder charges.

The sheriff's department refused to comment beyond Sheriff Bryant's statement, saying he had left the office for the day and could not be reached.

Sheriff Bryant did not give a motive for the killing.

The bodies of Earl Lamar Robertson and Terry DeJarnette Robertson, both 49, were discovered at the couple's house Tuesday morning when the man did not show up for a meeting and co-workers called police.