Originally created 03/21/00

Across the area: Mother sentenced to weekends in jail

The jail sentence for a former plastic surgeon who slashed her 7-year-old son's throat in an attempted murder-suicide has been changed from 90 days in a work release program to 45 consecutive weekends in jail, court officials said.

Shirley Madison, who pleaded guilty last week to assault and battery with intent to kill, was originally sentenced to the work release program by Circuit Judge Frank Eppes, but attorneys realized she was not eligible for the program because of the seriousness of the crime.

Ms. Madison now must report every weekend to the Aiken County Detention Center and be confined for 48 hours, from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Sunday.

In addition to the weekend sentence, Judge Eppes sentenced Ms. Madison to five years probation, random drug testing and mental health counseling. If she violates probation, she faces 20 years in prison.

Ms. Madison pleaded guilty March 14 to injecting an anesthetic in her son's throat to numb the pain and then cutting his neck Sept. 30, 1998. She also cut her own throat, but she and her son survived with the help of a nanny.

Defense attorneys said the woman was suffering from severe depression and stress from financial problems and single parenthood.


Bill supports biomedical grants

ATLANTA -- The Georgia House overwhelmingly passed a bill Monday calling for a statewide authority to push for funding for biomedical research projects, primarily in the Augusta area.

The 15-member Georgia Medical Center Authority would have the power to seek loans and grants and to hire contractors to design and build biomedical facilities. Such clout would make it easier to attract biomedical research companies, said Rep. Robin Williams, R-Augusta.

"We think this is a great opportunity to ... go across the country and out to the international market and try to bring those companies back to Augusta and Georgia for this research," he said.

The House made several changes to the version of the bill approved last month by the Senate. The Senate version had the governor making all 15 appointments, while the House bill would give two appointments to the Speaker of the House and two to the lieutenant governor.

The bill now goes back to the Senate for a vote on those changes.


Cities will share tax percentage

Representatives from the cities of Harlem and Grovetown have agreed to share 8.5 percent of the next local option sales tax -- a figure that could generate between $3.4 million and $5 million during the next five years.

"We're trying to be fair," Columbia County Commission Vice Chairman Jim Whitehead said during a joint meeting of the county and cities Monday night. "We want everybody to feel like we have worked as a whole on this."

The sales tax -- scheduled to go before voters in July -- should generate between $40 million and $58.6 million, county officials said.

The cities' share mirrors their population according to 1998 figures. Then, Grovetown had 5,279 people, representing 5.8 percent of the county population, while Harlem's population was 2,445, or 2.7 percent.

A Capital Improvements Plan, which details sales tax spending, will be presented at three public hearings later this month before final county commission approval in early May.


Deputy arrests assault suspect

A store clerk at a Warrenville gas station was stabbed by an armed robber early Monday, and sheriff's officials arrested an Aiken man who walked out of nearby woods 15 minutes later.

Michael Eugene Key, 36, of the 200 block of Chesterfield Street, Aiken, was charged with armed robbery and assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.

The victim, Kathy Franklin, 46, told investigators the suspect walked into The Depot store on Augusta Road in Warrenville and carried snacks and a drink to the counter. The man then walked behind the counter and demanded money.

The subject suddenly stabbed the employee in the left arm with a sharp metal instrument and ran from the store. A deputy responding to the incident arrested Mr. Key when he walked out of the woods on Howlandville Road.

The victim was treated at the store by Aiken County Emergency Medical Services.


Civil trial on shooting postponed

A judge agreed to postpone a civil trial related to Arthur Hastings Wise's alleged shooting rampage through the R.E. Phelon Co. plant until after the suspect's capital murder trial is complete.

Stanley L. Vance, a former security guard at the plant who was injured in the shootings, is suing R.E. Phelon Co., claiming plant managers were negligent in failing to warn him that Mr. Wise was dangerous and prone to violence.

The plant denies the lawsuit's allegations.

Mr. Vance was the first one shot in the rampage Sept. 17, 1997, and he suffered severe personal injuries, the suit states. The civil trial was set to begin Monday in the Aiken County Court of Common Pleas.

A court date for the capital murder trial has not been set. Mr. Wise is accused of walking into the plant and killing four employees: Sheryl Wood, 27, David Moore, 30, Leonard Filyaw, 30, and Charles Griffeth, 56.


Meeting will focus on rezoning

THOMSON -- McDuffie County commissioners are scheduled to consider a controversial rezoning tonight for a proposed 426-acre industrial park north of Interstate 20 near Thomson.

The rezoning request by the county's Development Authority was approved last year and later affirmed by the county's Planning Commission and full County Commission.

However, after challenges by residents opposed to the project and a lawsuit challenging the rezoning, the development authority later resubmitted the application after correcting a number of "procedural errors," said McDuffie County Planning Commission Director Fred Guerrant.

The Planning Commission already approved the resubmitted application, which will be considered by the full county commission during today's 6:30 p.m. meeting in McDuffie County Courthouse.


Storms divert Atlanta flights

Storms brought more flights than usual to Augusta airports and caused brief power outages late Sunday and early Monday.

A few flights destined for Atlanta were diverted to Augusta because of bad weather, said Al McDill, director of Augusta Regional Airport at Bush Field. The airport fueled about a half-dozen such flights, he said.

Fifteen to 20 Georgia Power customers were without electricity from about 5:30 to 7:30 a.m. Monday, said John Sell, a spokesman for the utility. A downed tree severed a power line, causing the outage, Mr. Sell said.


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