Originally created 08/07/99

Area briefs: Man imprisoned for statutory rape



An Augusta man who pleaded guilty Friday to having sexual relations with a 11-year-old girl who became pregnant received a 10-year prison sentence.

Al Darrell Young, 21, pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to statutory rape. He admitted to having sex with the girl June 1, 1997.

Chief Judge William M. Fleming Jr. sentenced Mr. Young to 10 years in prison, followed by five years on probation.

Playhouse kicking off season

Aiken Community Playhouse is beginning its new theater season with two "Kickoff Saturdays" this weekend and next.

Both days, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., playhouse patrons can buy season tickets, register for door prizes and find out about volunteer opportunities and productions.

The Playhouse is at 1613 Two Notch Road behind H. Odell Weeks Activities Center.

Defendant's replies don't help

A man accused of a crime spree, including burglary and home invasions, apparently didn't understand that a judge considers "risk of flight" in deciding to grant bond.

William Downey III of Memphis was in Richmond County Superior Court for a bond hearing Friday before Chief Judge William M. Fleming Jr. After hearing the prosecutor describe crimes from July 26 through Aug. 1, the judge asked Mr. Downey where he was from and what he was doing in Augusta.

"Memphis, Tennessee," Mr. Downey answered to the first question. "I was down here on the run from police in Memphis."

Judge Fleming denied bond.

Man charged in transient's death

CORDELE -- A Maryland man has been charged with murder in the death of an unidentified transient whose body was spotted by a motorist near an entrance ramp to Interstate 75 in Crisp County.

Franklin C. Jones, 43, was arrested Wednesday, a few hours after the body was found under some trees. Police were not sure where in Maryland Mr. Jones is from.

"When the officers approached the suspect they noticed blood on his shirt and marks on his face," Cordele Police Chief Dwayne Orrick said.

Investigators said that Mr. Jones and the victim had fought Tuesday night. After the fight, police said, Mr. Jones spent the night in a wooded area near the crime scene.

Before the body was discovered the next morning, Mr. Jones allegedly returned to pick up his belongings.

As of Friday, police still hadn't identified the victim but believed he had family in South Carolina.

Investigators also did not know whether the blood on Mr. Jones' shirt matched that of the victim, nor had they determined the cause of death.

Tifton managing editor named

TIFTON -- Chris Beckham, who began his newspaper career as a sports writer in Valdosta, has been named managing editor of The Tifton Gazette.

Mr. Beckham, a Thomasville native, most recently served as field director for the Valdosta office of the American Heart Association. He will oversee all editorial operations at the Tifton newspaper.

Mr. Beckham began his career with the Valdosta Daily Times in 1988 as a sports writer. He served as the sports editor of the Daily Citizen-News in Dalton for one year before returning to Valdosta in 1992. For the next five years, he worked at the Daily Times as the sports editor and city editor.

"Returning to newspapers is something I have wanted to do for a long time and I'm anxious to get involved in this community," Mr. Beckham said.

Killer sentenced to death

FORSYTH -- A 25-year-old man convicted of murder in the stabbing death of a Pike County insurance agent was sentenced to die in Georgia's electric chair.

A Monroe County jury deliberated less than 3 1/2 hours Thursday before recommending the death penalty for Leeland Mark Braley of Lawrenceville in the slaying of Kelli Hammond.

Ms. Hammond, 25, was stabbed numerous times Sept. 2 at the business she operated just north of Zebulon. Mr. Braley was arrested the next day in Atlanta after he used Ms. Hammond's credit cards.

His trial was moved from Pike County to Monroe County because of pretrial publicity in the Zebulon area.

In addition to murder, Mr. Braley was convicted Tuesday of kidnapping with bodily injury, armed robbery and aggravated battery. He was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences and 20 consecutive years in prison on those charges.

According to testimony, Mr. Braley went into Ms. Hammond's business to solicit money. When she refused, he returned with a knife and a gun.

Prosecutors said Mr. Braley cut Ms. Hammond's throat and then stabbed her.

Maritime newspaper files suit

CHARLESTON -- A monthly maritime newspaper has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Charleston Maritime Commission and the city of Charleston.

The commission has spent more than $500,000 on boating events without public oversight, said Katie Avent, publisher of The Boating News.

At least $500,000 was spent on the Around Alone sailing race and the commission is now in the process of spending $100,000 or more on a tall ships expo for June 2000, Ms. Avent said.

The newspaper contends the commission is supported financially by the city and therefore subject to provisions of the state's FOI law.

The newspaper wants the commission to provide access to all financial records, publicize all meetings and refrain from holding unannounced meetings.

State disciplines two doctors

COLUMBIA -- A South Carolina doctor has had his license revoked for having improper sexual contact with patients, and a physician's assistant had his license suspended for fraud, the Board of Medical Examiners announced.

Dr. Roger E. Adler, a physician in Charleston, had his license revoked Friday after an investigation by the board found he had sexual relationships with two patients, one of whom was a psychiatric patient.

Timothy D. Eastburn, a physician assistant, had his certification temporarily suspended for failing to admit he had been convicted of a felony for fraudulently obtaining controlled substances while posing as a doctor in Florida.