Originally created 04/12/98

Additional area news

Sheriff charges man with assault

AIKEN -- The Aiken County Sheriff's Office has arrested a Williston man on charges that he stabbed his younger brother.

Maurice Stephens, 36, of Skyland Farm Road was charged with assault and battery with intent to kill. He is being held at the Aiken County Detention Center.

At about 4:30 a.m. Saturday, Mr. Stephens forced his way inside his home, began wrestling with his brother, then allegedly stabbed him, said sheriff's spokesman Lt. Michael Frank.

The victim, 30-year-old Kinard Stephens, of the same residence, was taken to Aiken Regional Medical Centers, where he was in stable condition.

Lt. Frank said the stabbing resulted from an earlier argument.

Torch-lighting set for Laney

A torch-lighting ceremony is scheduled for Monday to place an eternal flame on the grave of Lucy Craft Laney.

The lighting will be part of a Founders Day celebration in honor of Laney, the daughter of a slave who started several schools for blacks in Augusta, beginning in the mid-1880s. Lucy C. Laney High School is named after her, as is the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of History on Phillips Street.

The event will be at 10 a.m. at the school at 1339 Laney-Walker Blvd., where Laney is buried.

Drowned man's body found

McCORMICK, S.C. -- Rescuers for the Department of Natural Resources have recovered the body of a Kentucky man believed to have drowned in a boating accident on Thurmond Lake in March.

A fisherman spotted Todd Geiger's body at about 7:30 Saturday morning near Luther Point, according to DNR spokesman Mike Willis.

The 19-year-old man had been missing since March 21, when a large wave hit his 14-foot boat, causing it to capsize and sink near the Plum Branch Yacht Club.

Mr. Geiger's body was recovered about 1 1/2 miles from the site of the accident. The body was taken to the McCormick County morgue and will be taken to Newberry Hospital for an autopsy, Mr. Willis said.

Joel Jackson, 38, of Fountain Inn also was killed in the accident, and his body was recovered three days later. Two survivors, Robbie Alley and Barry Jackson, Mr. Jackson's son and stepson, were wearing life jackets and made it to shore unharmed.

Seat belt violators snagged

ATLANTA -- The Georgia State Patrol ticketed a total of 29,543 motorists for seatbelt violations during a weeklong crackdown on drivers who don't buckle up.

The statewide sweep, during which drivers were stopped at checkpoints March 25-31, also produced 2,180 child restraint citations, said Public Safety Commissioner Sid Miles.

It was the third time the State Patrol has cracked down on seat-belt scofflaws. Since August, more than 83,000 drivers have been ticketed for failure to wear a seat belt. More than 7,000 citations have been issued for child-restraint seat violations.

Under Georgia law, adult drivers or passengers who fail to wear seat belts are fined $15. Drivers who fail to put children in a car seat or a seat belt are fined $50 for the first offense and $100 for subsequent offenses.

Murder trial ends in deadlock

ATHENS -- The trial of a university doctoral candidate charged with murdering his wheelchair-bound wife has ended in a mistrial.

Clarke County Superior Court Judge Joseph Gaines declared a mistrial Friday after a jury, which deliberated 13 hours, said it was hopelessly deadlocked over whether Greg Phillips, 42, murdered his wife.

Mr. Phillips, who also uses a wheelchair, said he shot Michelle Stevens Phillips, 42, in self-defense after she charged him with a knife.

Prosecutors say Mr. Phillips killed his wife during a domestic dispute in May 1997. Police say there had been a long history of abuse between the couple.

Mr. Phillips was awarded a University of Georgia scholarship and was scheduled to begin doctoral work in 1997.

Missing toddler turns up OK

ATLANTA -- A toddler who disappeared from a restaurant was found Saturday on a doorstep, Atlanta police said.

A DeKalb County woman called police after someone rang her doorbell, and she answered it to find 2-year-old Destiny Higgins on her doorstep, said police spokeswoman Jan Northstar.

The girl did not appear injured but was taken to Hughes Spaulding Children's Hospital in suburban Atlanta as a precaution.

Barbara Higgins reported her daughter missing Thursday after she allowed a woman she had never met to take Destiny to a nearby fruit stand.

Mrs. Higgins told police a young woman with long, blue fingernails and short, slicked-back hair was playing with her daughter at China 5 Restaurant. When the girl dropped an apple the woman had given her, she offered to take her to the fruit stand to buy another, police said.

Police continued Saturday to search for the woman.

Ex-psychologist sentenced

MACON -- A former psychologist who admitted having sex with a patient was sentenced to four months in a detention center Friday and ordered to pay for part of the patient's continuing therapy.

Robert Douglas Smith, 62, of Macon, pleaded guilty in December to having sex with a patient in late 1994. At the time, he was given a tentative sentence of three years on probation.

Bibb Superior Court Judge Walker P. Johnson Jr. kept Mr. Smith's probation term intact during his final sentencing hearing Friday. Mr. Smith also is banned from treating women in any way during that period, and he must continue in therapy.

Mr. Smith voluntarily surrendered his license in 1995, after three women complained of sexually inappropriate behavior by the 20-year veteran psychologist.

Principal misconduct alleged

WALHALLA -- The principal of Walhalla Elementary School has been charged with sexual misconduct in a public place.

Anderson County sheriff's Capt. Dale McCard said Norman Cason, 49, was picked up with another man near a boat ramp Wednesday evening. The sheriff's office has been staking out the area after getting complaints about men meeting in the park.

Deputies say Mr. Cason and Roger Dean Thompson, 48, were engaging in sexual acts in plain view.


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