Originally created 09/23/99

Area briefs: Board denies parole in Richey murder case



The South Carolina Pardons and Parole Board denied a parole request Wednesday for Jammie Lee, who was convicted of accessory to murder in the 1994 death of Lakeside High School student Melanie Richey.

Mr. Lee pleaded had guilty as an accessory after the fact and agreed to testify against co-defendants Geoffrey Payne and Joe Kelsey, who were convicted in 1995.

Mr. Lee testified that Mr. Payne was the killer and that Melanie, 15, was alive when he helped Mr. Payne and Mr. Kelsey drag her into the woods in McCormick County, S.C., where a pipe bomb was detonated in her mouth. Melanie was taken to McCormick County after leaving a party attended by teens in Columbia County.

"This was the last chance for parole that he (Mr. Lee) will have until he completes his sentence in February," said Peter O'Boyle, spokesman for the Pardons and Parole Board.

Mr. Lee is imprisoned at South Carolina's Goodman Correctional Institution in Columbia. Mr. Kelsey and Mr. Payne won't be eligible for parole until September 2015.

RICHMOND COUNTY

Raccoon found to have had rabies

A raccoon found recently near Windsor Spring and Tobacco roads was confirmed to have rabies, prompting an advisory Wednesday by the Richmond County Health Department for people to use caution around wild animals.

Dogs and cats in the area should have current rabies vaccinations issued by a veterinarian, according to the advisory.

Wild animals should be avoided. Contact between humans or their pets and wild animals should be reported immediately to the health department at (706) 667-4326.

RICHMOND COUNTY

Jury questioning set to end today

The individual questioning of potential jurors in Bryan Williams' capital murder trial in Richmond County Superior Court is expected to end today, readying the stage for final jury selection Monday.

Mr. Williams, 21, has pleaded not guilty to charges that include murder in the July 16, 1997, shooting death of Michael D. Stephenson, 29, a Board of Education safety officer.

By the end of the day Wednesday, 60 residents had qualified as potential jurors. That means they hold no fixed opinion of Mr. Williams and are able to consider life in prison with or without the chance of parole -- or the death penalty -- should Mr. Williams be convicted of murder.

NORTH AUGUSTA

Student punished in gun threat

A North Augusta High School student has been disciplined after threatening to take guns to school and shoot people, according an Aiken County sheriff's report.

The student, who cannot be identified because he is a juvenile, was given several days of in-school suspension.

The boy was at the Aiken County Career Center last week when he reportedly made the threats. A teacher told authorities he was a constant disruption and often spoke out of turn, the sheriff's report stated.

After the student made the threats, schools officials called the sheriff's office and a deputy questioned the boy. The youth said "he was just talking to himself and didn't mean anything by it," according to the report. The boy promised not to make the statements again.

The deputy called the student's grandfather, who indicated there were no weapons at the boy's home.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Woman indicted in mail fraud

McCORMICK -- A McCormick woman has been indicted on charges of mail fraud and submitting false information on voting documents in connection with the November 1994 general election, U.S. Attorney J. Rene Josey said Wednesday.

Georgetta M. Wiggleton, 54, solicited absentee ballot applications from individuals who were ineligible to vote that way, failed to provide absentee ballots to qualified voters and used the mail to execute the plan, according to the federal indictment said.

The indictment also charges Ms. Wiggleton, who worked as clerk of the McCormick County Board of Voter Registration, with causing the submission of false information as to voters' names on specific voting materials.

She faces a maximum penalty of imprisonment for five years and a fine of $250,000 for each count of the indictment.

COLUMBIA COUNTY

Attorney makes candidacy official

A week after informally announcing his intentions to seek the District 3 seat on Columbia County Commission, attorney Barry Fleming made it official Wednesday.

"I was raised in Columbia County," he said. "I went to public school in Columbia County. I've lived here almost all my life."

Mr. Fleming, who was recruited to run by outgoing Commissioner Lee Brooks, also received support from former U.S. Rep. Doug Barnard and state Rep. Bill Jackson, R-Appling.

"We need to be electing people with character, morals and integrity," Mr. Jackson said. "It's not what you get in life; it's what you give that's important."

Mr. Brooks resigned from the commission last week after his employer -- Wackenhut Services Inc. -- transferred him from Savannah River Site to U.S. Energy Department facilities in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

AUGUSTA

Program to give away gun locks

After the recent success of a similar local program, Augusta will be one of six cities helping launch a national program focused on giving away gun locks to increase firearm safety.

The giveaway, named Project HomeSafe and sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, will give Richmond County 5,000 gun locks valued at $17,000. Other cities in the program are Pittsburgh; New Orleans; Las Vegas; Orlando, Fla., and Oakland, Calif.

The foundation was impressed by a summer gun-lock giveaway in Augusta sponsored with help from soul singer James Brown, said Mark Gibbons, administrative assistant to Mayor Bob Young. Richmond County sheriff's officers gave away 1,000 locks during three days, prompting local officials to declare the giveaway a success.

The program kicks off at 11 a.m. today with an announcement by Mr. Young in the Augusta Commission chamber on the eighth floor of the municipal building, 530 Greene St. downtown.

Sheriff's officers will give the locks to gun owners who provide their address and proof of age. People receiving the locks must be 21 or older and live in Richmond County.. Participants will receive educational material on home firearms safety.

GEORGIA

Workers fleeing Floyd face firing

SAVANNAH -- More than 20 city and county employees could lose their jobs for leaving town to avoid Hurricane Floyd.

Savannah Police Department said Tuesday that six employees who handle 911 calls did not show up for work last week when the city was evacuated because of Floyd's threat. Two have been asked to resign, and the other four will face a review, said police spokesman Bucky Burnsed.

Police employees are considered "mission critical" and cannot leave town during natural disasters, Mr. Burnsed said, adding that they are made aware of this when they take their jobs.