Originally created 01/26/00

Across the area: Snow delays trial in 1996 slayings



YORK -- Jury selection in the death penalty trial of David Mark Hill was postponed for a second day Tuesday because of snow in York County, court officials said.

The Upstate remained covered with 8 inches of snow, with reports of 12 inches in some low-lying areas, making travel a difficult and dangerous task for the more than 300 people summoned for duty. Jury selection is expected to get under way sometime this morning in a York courtroom.

The case was moved to York County when Circuit Judge Marc Westbrook ruled in October that too many potential jurors in Aiken County had formed opinions about the killings of three social workers in the North Augusta Department of Social Services office. He chose York County because it is similar to Aiken County in demographics.

Mr. Hill, 39, will be tried on a capital murder charge, accused of barging into the DSS office in the fall of 1996 and shooting the workers to death. Police say he was upset because the agency planned to place his 4-year-old paraplegic daughter and twin sons in foster care.

RICHMOND COUNTY

Man damages squad car in arrest

An Augusta man charged with stalking and kidnapping his ex-girlfriend struggled with officers as they arrested him Tuesday, then kicked out the back window of a squad car while handcuffed, police said.

On Jan. 15, Langley Lane resident Tyrus McCord, 20, called his 18-year-old ex-girlfriend repeatedly while she was working at Home Folks News & Music, off Gordon Highway, Chief Deputy Ronald Strength said. At about 9 p.m., he paid her a visit, walking behind the counter, grabbing her arm and forcing her into a Honda Civic, the chief deputy said.

The woman was held in the car for more than an hour, pleading with the man to let her go, Chief Deputy Strength said. Eventually, he dropped her off at her sister's house.

On Tuesday, police said the victim spotted Mr. McCord lingering outside her residence in the 2000 block of Lanier Drive. Her sister called police, who detained Mr. McCord at 10:20 a.m.

Mr. McCord also was charged with false imprisonment, obstruction of a law enforcement officer and interference with government property. He is being held in the Richmond County jail without bond.

AIKEN COUNTY

Cancer fund-raising rally set

The American Cancer Society has scheduled a kickoff rally at 6 p.m. Thursday for Aiken's Relay for Life event.

The rally will take place in Classrooms A and B on the sixth floor of Aiken Regional Medical Centers. Relay for Life is a team event that raises funds for cancer research, prevention and early detection programs.

For more information, call the cancer society at (803) 648-1208.

GEORGIA

University to expand eagle center

STATESBORO -- Georgia Southern University on Tuesday announced it was launching a $2 million expansion of its Center for Wildlife Education and Lamar Q. Ball Jr. Raptor Center -- well-known for its study and treatment of wild and injured eagles.

The expansion will more than triple the facility's acreage by adding 13 acres, letting it include native waterfowl, woodpeckers, songbirds and wading birds.

The expansion "sets a national example for urban and suburban planners," said Terry Johnson, program manager for Georgia's nongame/endangered wildlife program with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The original 5.7-acre center opened in 1997, and has been involved in the rehabilitation and rescue of several injured bald and golden eagles, both on the endangered species list.

CALIFORNIA

Man jailed for child pornography

FRESNO -- A former schoolteacher was sentenced to 21 months in prison for possessing child pornography.

Michael Tarbert Jester, a former teacher at Liberty Middle School in Lemoore, was indicted last year after investigators found at least 200 images of child pornography on his computer. Authorities said Mr. Jester sent sexually explicit photos of a girl about 10 years old via the Internet to a 12-year-old girl in Valdosta.

Mr. Jester, 43, was sentenced Monday as part of his plea agreement. According to an affidavit filed with the court by Christopher Soares, a Customs Service agent, the Georgia girl was using an Internet chat room and made contact with a user called "young-calif-thang," a computer name Mr. Jester sometimes used.

GEORGIA

City fires first black police chief

MANCHESTER -- Ronald Jackson, the first black police chief of Manchester, was fired for allegedly lying to supervisors, breaking police department rules, insubordination and abuse or theft of city property.

City Manager Danny Walton said the chief was fired Monday but would not expound on the charges against him.

Mr. Jackson was hired in 1993 as police chief of this Meriwether County town near Columbus. He was suspended with pay Jan. 12.

Mr. Walton said the chief lied to him about money he owed several businesses. Mr. Jackson had a history of financial troubles, including filing for bankruptcy protection in 1995.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Police seek security-detail funds

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH -- Police say they need an additional $385,000 to deal with the Atlantic Beach Memorial Day Bike Festival this year.

The Public Safety Department has requested the additional money from the city's share of accommodation taxes.

Atlantic Beach officials are not sure there will be a festival this year. The event usually draws about 100,000 bikers -- most of them black -- to the area.

The city is considering a resolution calling for the removal of the Confederate flag from the Statehouse. Mayor Irene Armstrong said supporting the removal of the flag means supporting the NAACP tourism boycott of the state.

"This will literally mean we won't plan a biker festival," planning commission member Pete Johnson said earlier this month. "Most of our businesspeople make three-fourths of their money that weekend."

SOUTH CAROLINA

Health fears slow shellfish harvest

COLUMBIA -- State health officials have closed some Charleston County shellfish harvesting areas because of potential contamination from heavy rains.

The affected areas are around Clark Sound adjacent to James Island, the Department of Health and Environmental Control said Tuesday.