Originally created 08/18/00

Across the area



SOUTH CAROLINA
Technicality givesprisoner new trial

COLUMBIA - An Aiken County man who received a 15-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to fondling his girlfriend's daughter will get a new trial because of a technicality.

The South Carolina Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of Richard Campbell, 27, who originally was indicted for first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor for allegedly fondling the 7-year-old daughter of his live-in girlfriend. He pleaded guilty in 1997 to committing a lewd act on a child under the age of 16 and was sentenced to the prison term.

His application for post-conviction relief was granted, however, because the trial court did not have jurisdiction to accept the plea. Mr. Campbell was never indicted on the charge, and the lewd act charge was not a "lesser-included" offense of the original charge, the Supreme Court ruled.

"Prosecutors must be cautious to ensure that the subject matter jurisdiction is present when a defendant pleads to an unindicted offense," the court wrote.

COLUMBIA COUNTY
Home-school book sale set

There will be an open house and used curricula sale at the Home School for You Learning Library in Evans on Thursday.

The event will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. at the facility, 406 N. Belair Road.

Parents can buy used home school books and curricula, sign up for classes and field trips, and meet other home school families. A seminar, Home Schooling 101, will be presented at 2 and 7 p.m.

Admission is free. Call 651-1518 for additional information.

AREA SCHOOLS
Schools schedule open houses

The following Richmond County public schools have announced open-house dates:

Morgan Road Middle School, 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday

Hephzibah Middle School, 7-8 p.m. Thursday

Murphey Middle School, 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday

Tutt Middle School, 6-8 p.m. Thursday

Jenkins Elementary School, 6-8 p.m. Aug. 28

Langford Middle School, 6-7:30 p.m. Aug. 29

Hornsby Elementary School, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Aug. 29

Monte Sano Elementary School, 7-8:30 p.m. Aug. 29

Alternative School, 3-6 p.m. Aug. 30

Spirit Creek Middle School, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Aug. 31

AUGUSTA
Hotel will throw beach party

Radisson Riverfront Hotel Augusta, 2 10th St., will hold a summer beach party from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. today.

The party will include hors d'oeuvres, dancing and cash bars. The band Catalinas is scheduled to play. There also will be an auction for vacation packages to San Francisco, San Diego, Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla., and Aruba.

The cost is $65 for couples and $37.50 for individuals. Ten corporate tables, each holding eight people, will be available for $500 each and will include two complimentary drinks per person.

Guests must be 21 years old or older to attend, and the dress is casual. For more information, call 823-6500.

GEORGIA
$1.3 million gift saves church

DALTON - A Dalton church struggling with the burden of a $1.25 million mortgage received a gift Thursday that must have felt like manna from heaven.

Pastor Jeff Smith of Mount Rachel Baptist Church cashed a check for $1,313,641.

The donor - whom the Rev. Smith met last year on an evangelical trip - has asked not to be named.

The Rev. Smith said he called the man three weeks ago and asked for help of any kind. Last week, he received a phone call from PaineWebber telling him someone wanted to make a large donation to the church.

"The fact that a family thinks enough of our church, or believes in our ministry that much, to send that much blows me away," the pastor said.

GEORGIA
Professor charged in abduction

ATLANTA - A part-time business professor at Brenau University in Gainesville has been accused of abducting and fondling a 16-year-old girl.

Richard Eugene Phillips, 49, of Cumming, was being held without bond in the Fulton County Jail on charges of kidnapping, sexual battery and aggravated assault after he surrendered Tuesday.

"He categorically denies the allegations," said Mr. Phillips' lawyer, R. Stephen Roberts.

The girl told police she was walking to a bus stop after work June 3 in Sandy Springs community when a man asked her for directions, showed her a gun and dragged her into his vehicle. She said he took her to a church parking lot and fondled her before letting her go.

The vehicle was registered to Mr. Phillips' wife. The girl picked Mr. Phillips' picture out of a group of photographs, Detective Julie Blunke said.

GEORGIA
County cuts school's sprinklers

ATLANTA - High school football may be king in Georgia, but even the king has to obey water restrictions in the middle of a severe drought.

DeKalb County officials warned Cross Keys High School four times to stop leaving a sprinkler running after football practice. When the high school did nothing, the county shut off the school's water from Tuesday night to Wednesday morning.

Rick Daniel, director of DeKalb's water and sewer service, said the county wanted to "get the school's attention." It apparently worked. School officials promised to be "good water citizens" from now on.

GEORGIA
Man charged in academy fraud

FORSYTH - The chief executive officer of a failed venture to start an academy for at-risk youths has been arrested on charges of deposit account fraud and false representation or fraudulent claims.

Frank Brown Jr. surrendered Tuesday to authorities in Harris County, where he lives, and was released on $2,500 bond, said Monroe County Sheriff John Cary Bittick.

Mr. Brown headed a group that was trying to open the University Residential Academy on the former Tift College campus in Forsyth. The school was supposed to serve at-risk youths, but no children were ever placed there, and the academy never opened.