ATLANTA -- State House leaders sponsoring a bill to change the state's execution method probably will get more than they bargained for today: a debate over the death penalty itself.
State Rep. Ben Allen, D-Augusta, has promised an effort to amend the bill to do away with capital punishment in Georgia. Although officials give the amendment little chance of succeeding, Mr. Allen is expected to stir emotional arguments over whether the death penalty is disproportionately enforced against blacks.
The bill he wants to change would do away with Georgia's electric chair and switch to lethal injection. Electrocution has been challenged in a number of court cases as cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court already has agreed to hear an Alabama case on that issue.
Man charged in shotgun slaying
SUMMERTON -- A Clarendon County man has been charged with murder after a man was shot during an argument.
Richard Weathers, 53, was arrested Saturday after Benjamin Singleton was found shot in the abdomen outside a home in the Silver community off U.S. Highway 15 between Summerton and Paxville.
Mr. Singleton knocked on the door of Mr. Weather's home at about 2 a.m., said Clarendon County Sheriff Keith Josey.
"Mr. Weathers said he keeps a .410 shotgun under his bed," which he carried to the door, Sheriff Josey said. "(Mr. Singleton) had started to back away from the door when Mr. Weathers came out, but he stopped."
"(Mr. Weathers) didn't think (Mr. Singleton) was leaving fast enough, so he pulled out the gun and shot him in the abdomen from less than 10 feet away," Sheriff Josey said.
Mr. Singleton was pronounced dead later that morning at Clarendon Memorial Hospital in Manning, County Coroner Ranny Stephens said.
Man dies after nightclub shooting
ORANGEBURG -- A shooting at a nightclub has left an Orangeburg man dead and two others injured.
Talmadge Ishmael Sprinkle, 24, was shot several times outside the Limelight Club, Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office spokesman Chief Robert Keith said.
Chief Keith said no arrests have been made and a motive for the shooting had not been established.
Two other Orangeburg men, 25-year-old Earl Shingles and 18-year-old Daron Lee, were also injured. They were in stable condition at The Regional Medical Center.
"We had an altercation between Sprinkle and an unknown suspect outside the nightclub," Chief Keith said.
City wants farmers market revived
CHARLESTON -- City officials want ideas to revive Charleston's Farmers Market after attendance and business wilted in last summer's heat.
"There were less people coming down there who weren't from the area. Less tourists. Less people buying food," said Caroline Madsen, who has sold herbs at the market for several years and who heads the market's advisory board.
"Some vendors experienced the same or even better sales than usual last year. Other vendors experienced a big drop-off," she said.
Ellen Dressler Moryl, the city's Cultural Affairs director who is helping coordinate the market, will hold a two-hour public work session at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Maritime Center to discuss possible changes before the Farmers Market opens in April. "What I see is a great opportunity to make this market sing," she said.
The market likely will need a temporary location for the next two years until its original home at Marion Square is renovated.
State reports record fish kill
BIG SANDY CREEK -- State environmental officials say they can prove at least 12,000 fish were killed in Big Sandy Creek after the acidity in the water suddenly spiked two weeks ago.
But they suspect anywhere from 45,000 to 100,000 fish may have died after a large chemical release from a nearby kaolin plant. If that's true, it would be the largest fish kill ever in the area.
Les Ager, a regional supervisor in the fisheries section of the state Wildlife Resources Division, said original dead-fish counts were "a gross underestimate."
Officials from the state Environmental Protection Division say a large chemical release from Imerys Pigments and Additives Group, formerly Dry Branch Kaolin, caused the kill.
Fish began dying Feb. 7. The kill stretched more than nine miles through Twiggs County and affected 17 species of fish, including large-mouth bass.
Drive-by shooting injures man
An Augusta man was wounded in a drive-by shooting in the parking lot of a local night club.
Jud Dimitrio Brown, 18, told sheriff's deputies he was wounded in the arm at about 3 a.m. Sunday in the parking lot of Club Tinted Windows on North Leg Road.
Mr. Brown, of Second Avenue, said the shooter was in a late-1980s model, burgundy Chevrolet Camaro with tinted windows. Mr. Brown could not identify his assailant.
Police made no arrests, according to the incident report.
Cheerleading squad wins title
An Aiken competition cheerleading squad brought home a first-place trophy Sunday from Cheersport National Championship competition in Atlanta.
The 18-member Aiken Elite All-Star Cheerleaders out-cheered 13 squads from across the country to win the small senior all-star division at the Gwinnett Civic and Cultural Center, said Barbara Kneece, who coaches the squad with Heather Hudson and Dean Cavero.
The team, made-up of students from Aiken and South Aiken high schools, won a regional competition in December to qualify for the national two-day event, she said.
The squad, which finished in eighth place last year, won a 4-foot-tall, first-place trophy, national championship rings and $1,000 of Power Athletic Footwear merchandise.
"This is only their second year together, so they've really come a long way," Ms. Kneece said.
Fatal wreck sparks DUI charge
A Barnwell man will face felony DUI charges after the Mustang he was driving swerved into oncoming traffic Sunday, killing his passenger and injuring his 4-year-old son, police said.
Timothy James Creech Sr., 26, was attempting to pass another car in the southbound lane of South Carolina Highway 300 at 4:30 p.m. when he lost control of his 1968 Ford Mustang, swerving onto the path of an oncoming 1995 Ford Ranger.
The Mustang burst into flames on impact, but passers-by were able to remove all the passengers from the vehicles, said South Carolina Highway Patrol Cpl. Melonie Anderson.
A passenger in the Mustang, Tonya Delores Frazier Rhodes, 25, of Barnwell, was pronounced dead at the scene, Cpl. Anderson said.
The driver of the truck, Christopher McGee, 17, of Barnwell, and Mr. Creech were taken to Barnwell County Hospital, where they remained late Sunday. Mr. Creech's son, Timothy James Creech Jr., was air-lifted to Palmetto-Richland Memorial Hospital in Columbia. His condition was unknown.
BLOOD DONATIONS SCHEDULE:
Appointments are available at these locations for people wishing to donate blood:
American Red Cross Blood Services: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays (except holidays), 950 Millbrook St., Suite A, in Aiken; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays (except holidays), 106 Pleasant Home Rd., Suite L, at LaPavilion Shopping Center in Augusta. Call (803) 642-5180 in Aiken or (706) 868-8800 in Augusta.
Shepeard Community Blood Center: 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays (except holidays), 112-B Davis Road in Martinez; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays (except holidays), 1533 Wrightsboro Road in Augusta; noon to 6 p.m. Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays (except holidays), Rich Plaza near the corner of Whiskey and Pine Log roads in Aiken. Call (706) 854-1880 in Martinez, (706) 737-4551 in Augusta or (803) 643-7996 in Aiken.
MEETINGS THIS WEEK:
General Aviation Commission, noon, Daniel Field Airport, Highland Avenue.
Augusta Commission sub-committee on creating a city law department, 4 p.m., eighth floor, Municipal Building, 530 Greene St.
North Augusta City Council, 7 p.m., Municipal Building, Buena Vista Avenue.
Columbia County Development Authority Meeting, 7:30 a.m., Columbia County Chamber of Commerce office, Evans-to-Locks Road.
Columbia County Development and Environmental Services, 6 p.m., center auditorium, Evans Government Complex, Washington West Drive.
Aiken County Board of Education, 7 p.m., District Office, Brookhaven Drive.
Augusta Historic Preservation Commission, 5:30 p.m., Room 802, Municipal Building.
Edgefield County Board of Education, 7:30 p.m., Strom Thurmond High School Library, South Carolina Highway 23.
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