Originally created 04/29/00

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Arson attempt gets man 5 years in jail

An Augusta man convicted of attempted arson for trying to burn down his mother's home while she was inside received a five-year prison sentence Friday.

A Richmond County Superior Court jury convicted Fields Palmer, 52, on April 18. The crime could have sent him to prison for 10 years.

Witnesses testified at Mr. Palmer's trial that he set fire to his 74-year-old mother's trailer home Jan. 10, while she and a grandchild were inside. A neighbor driving by saw smoke, and Annie Palmer and her grandchild were able to escape without injuries.

Senior Judge Bernard J. Mulherin Sr. sentenced Mr. Palmer to serve five years in prison followed by five years' probation.


Candidate joins sheriff's race

A third candidate has qualified with the Richmond County Democratic Party to run for sheriff.

Elmer Singley qualified Friday to seek the public office being vacated by retiring Sheriff Charles Webster. Mr. Singley, a retired medical supply technician for Augusta's Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center, ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 1998.


Group hosts Black Tie Gala

The 100 Black Men of Augusta Inc. will hold its annual Black Tie Gala at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Savannah Rapids Pavilion.

The organization's members mentor and tutor children in the Augusta area. For more information, call (706) 722-6105.


Police look for missing woman

The Richmond County Sheriff's Department is seeking help in finding a woman who has been missing from Forest Brook Apartments since Thursday evening.

Lisa Michelle Abney, 30, of Green Leaf Way, was last seen at 8 p.m. leaving the apartment complex, possibly in the company of Shelbert Bradley Roper, 31, investigators said.

Mr. Roper may have been driving a gray 1990 Geo Prizm with Georgia tag 519 TCF. He is described as black, 6 feet tall, 175 pounds, bald and clean-shaven. Ms. Abney is described as black, 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing 225 pounds.

Investigators declined to release any further details. Anyone with information about Ms. Abney or Mr. Roper should call the sheriff's department at 821-1080.


Teen-ager asks for new trial

An Aiken County teen-ager is asking for a new trial despite a light seven-year sentence for kidnapping a family of four with the intention of killing them in a baby-stealing scheme.

Kristen Thompson, 19, filed a motion this week for post-conviction relief, asking for a new trial or the dismissal of kidnapping convictions against her.

A jury convicted Ms. Thompson on March 1 of kidnapping a North Augusta family in a scheme to kill them all and take the mother's unborn baby to sell to a Utah buyer for $10,000 or more. A judge could have sentenced her to 120 years, but he gave her a 7-year sentence with probation.

The woman's former boyfriend and co-defendant, Nicholas Hall, testified during the trial that Ms. Thompson wanted to kill the family and carve out the baby from the mother. But Mr. Hall, who was supposed to shoot the family, couldn't go through with it, he said.

Kidnapping charges against Mr. Hall were dropped, and he was given a youthful offender sentence after pleading guilty to weapons charges on March 13. He could be released in six months.

In her motion for a new trial, Ms. Thompson says the dismissal of kidnapping charges against Mr. Hall is inconsistent with her conviction because she was prosecuted under the "hand of one is the hand of all law," the motion states.


Authorities seek missing man

A man taking medication for epileptic seizures has been missing for almost two weeks, and the Richmond County Sheriff's Department has placed his name in a nationwide missing people database in hopes he'll be found.

A home-care giver for Woodrow Jackson, 59, told police she hasn't seen him since about 9 a.m. April 16, when he left his key on the dining room table at the home on East Walker Street and said he would see her later. He took his medications with him, she told police, which he does not normally do.

Maj. Ken Autry said deputies checked local hospitals and mental health facilities, but Mr. Jackson was not found. Relatives said they have not seen him since Christmas, and he has been known to disappear before, Maj. Autry said.

He is described as black, 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighing 190 pounds. He has gray hair and brown eyes and was last seen wearing a brown coat, blue pants, black shoes and a cap.

Anyone with information about his whereabouts should call the sheriff's department at 821-1000.


Police look for robbery suspect

The Aiken County Sheriff's Office is searching for a man who robbed at a video poker business at gunpoint early Friday morning.

A cashier, working at Hearts Full House in North Augusta, walked to the rear of the building, where he tossed a bag of garbage in a nearby trash bin. As he was returning to the business, a man brandishing a revolver approached him and demanded cash, said Lt. Michael Frank of the Sheriff's Office.

Minutes later, the suspect ran away from the video poker parlor on East Buena Vista Avenue and was last seen heading down Carolina Springs Road, Lt. Frank said.

The suspect was last seen wearing a black T-shirt with the Nike Swoosh symbol on it, faded black jeans and white sneakers. Police said the man also had a small black Afro. He was described as black, 6 feet tall and weighing between 180 and 200 pounds.

No one was injured in the 8:15 a.m. armed robbery, Lt. Frank said.

Anyone with information about this incident should call the sheriff's office at (803) 642-1761 or (800) 922-3211. Or call the Aiken County Crime Stoppers at (803) 642-1798. Callers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward.


Student ice show scheduled

Ice skating students will showcase their skills in Broadway on Ice from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday at Augusta IceForum, 1249 Augusta West Parkway. Tickets cost $4 for adults and $2 for pupils 14 to 7. Children 6 and under will be admitted free. For more information, call 863-0061.


Graduation ceremonies set

Paine College and Augusta State University will hold graduation ceremonies next month.

Paine College's commencement will be at 8 a.m. May 7 on the Central Plain on campus. Dorothy Height, president emeritus of the National Council of Negro Women, will speak.

Augusta State's graduation will be at 10 a.m. May 13 in the Physical/Athletic Complex on Wrightsboro Road. National Teacher of the Year Andy Baumgartner from Augusta will be the guest speaker.


Mix-up causes double burial

DALTON -- Rebecca Smith had to live through the heartache of burying her infant son a second time after a hospital gave her the wrong baby to bury two weeks ago.

Ms. Smith, who miscarried Timothy James on April 9, found out a few days ago that the infant she had buried April 11 was not hers. Hamilton Medical Center spokeswoman Agnes Cloud said the hospital has changed procedures to make sure a similar situation "never happens again."

Ms. Smith's son remained in the hospital morgue for two weeks until the mistake was discovered. Because of patient confidentiality, hospital officials could not identify parents of the other infant.


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