Wrong-way driving leads to fatality
CRAWFORDVILLE - A 26-year-old Lilburn man was killed on Interstate 20 late Wednesday after he crossed the highway median, struck three oncoming cars, went airborne and landed in the median.
The wreck occurred just before midnight near Crawfordville in Taliaferro County, according to the Georgia State Patrol's Washington Post.
Pamas Hanto died of blunt force trauma to the head and chest, and four other people were transported to Wills Memorial Hospital in Washington with injuries that were not life threatening, Taliaferro County Coroner Milton Alexander said.
Authorities don't know what caused Mr. Hanto to cross the median and drive eastbound in westbound lanes. Mr. Alexander said there were no immediate signs of alcohol use, but truck drivers who witnessed the crash reported Mr. Hanto's lights were turned off.
Robber gets five years in jail
AIKEN - A man who robbed a door-to-door salesman, led police on a three-county chase and later got caught with heroin down his pants at the Aiken jail received a five-year jail term Thursday.
Edward N. Walker, 20, of Salley, took a plea agreement that kept him from receiving the maximum sentence on three charges - armed robbery, failure to stop for a blue light and possession with intent to distribute heroin. Prosecutors dropped other charges in exchange for the guilty pleas.
Mr. Walker's crime spree began Oct. 29, when he convinced a door-to-door salesman that his disabled mother wanted to buy some vegetables. When the man came inside, Mr. Walker put a gun to the man's back and robbed him.
A week later, police spotted Mr. Walker driving a stolen vehicle and tried to stop him. The man led police on a chase through Aiken, Barnwell and Orangeburg counties. He was caught in Orangeburg County.
In jail, prosecutors say two of his cellmates overdosed on heroin and had to be taken to the hospital. That resulted in a search of the cell, where officers found heroin stuffed down Mr. Walker's pants.
Man receives 20-year sentence
AIKEN - An Aiken County jury convicted a local man Thursday in a failed October home invasion in which the homeowner wrestled a gun away from the burglars.
Horace "Amp" Carter was convicted of armed robbery and attempted armed robbery. Circuit Judge Thomas Cooper Jr. sentenced him to 20 years on each charge, jail terms that will be served concurrently, or at the same time.
Mr. Carter, 22, was one of two men who entered a York Street home Oct. 10 and held the homeowner at gunpoint. The man later wrestled with the suspects and took the gun away.
Before sentencing Mr. Carter, Judge Cooper looked at the defendant and then paused.
"You've been before judges so many times, anything I have to say to you isn't going to have an impact," the judge said before ordering the jail terms.
Assistant Public Defender Kelley Perkins Brown asked the judge for mercy, saying Mr. Carter grew up in a neighborhood with a lot of bad influences. She said Mr. Carter was supporting two young children.
Accountability director named
ATLANTA - Gov. Roy Barnes on Thursday appointed Michael Vollmer, the former head of the HOPE scholarship program, to the newly created job as director of the Office of Education Accountability.
Mr. Vollmer, 50, will be in charge of assessing and tracking academic performance in the state's schools, from pre-kindergarten to the university level.
Mr. Vollmer is interim vice chancellor for human and external resources for the Board of Regents.
Wine bill goes in effect Saturday
ATLANTA - Georgia wine lovers will be rejoicing Saturday when House Bill 1273 becomes law.
The bill partially repeals the guidelines of an April 1997 measure that made it a felony to ship wine into the state for personal consumption.
Georgia consumers will benefit in two ways: Travelers will be able to ship wines to their homes in Georgia after purchasing them at a winery. Residents will also be able to order wine by mail but not the Internet.
Pot smokers arrest more in county
ATLANTA - If you smoke pot in Fulton County, you're more likely to be arrested than in any other county in the nation, a study by a marijuana advocacy group shows.
"Marijuana arrests are an easy target," said Paul Cornwell, who organizes yearly pot legalization festivals in Atlanta. "The county spends a higher percentage of its efforts to make those kinds of arrests to boost crime stats."
The National Organization for the Repeal of Marijuana Laws said it used crime statistics reported to the FBI for its study. It showed that the 1997 arrest rate in Fulton County was 778 per 100,000 residents - three times the national average for counties with at least 250,000 residents. Georgia's statewide rate was 337 per 100,000 residents, ranking seventh.
Fulton County and Atlanta police said they weren't making any special efforts to crack down on marijuana users.
Squads bid farewell to planes
CHARLESTON - The end of an era is at hand at the Charleston Air Force Base, as the last C-141s flying out of Charleston are retired after decades of service as the transport workhorse of the Air Force.
Members of the 707th Airlift Squadron said goodbye to the aircraft Wednesday as the members were drenched in water and in champagne. The squadron will be deactivated today.
The 16th Airlift Squadron, the last active-duty squadron to fly the planes, will be deactivated July 15.
The C-141s, which first came to Charleston 35 years ago, are being replaced by the newer C-17s.
Former coach ends jail term
SUMTER - Sumter High School former football coach Tom Lewis is scheduled to be released from jail Monday after serving half his sentence for his part in a multimillion-dollar school embezzlement scheme.
Mr. Lewis, who was sentenced to 90 days in jail, has had half a day shaved off his sentence every day under state law for good behavior, said Simon Major, director of the Sumter County jail.
Mr. Lewis pleaded guilty in May to embezzling from his employer, Sumter School District 17. Prosecutors say he took more than $200,000 from former Assistant Superintendent of Finance Joe Klein to pay for gambling trips, home improvements and other luxuries.
Mr. Klein pleaded guilty to taking $2.5 million and is serving a 10-year prison term.
Fourteen people have been indicted in what prosecutors call the largest school embezzlement scheme in the state's history. Nine have yet to go to trial.