Originally created 01/09/01

Across the area



AUGUSTA
Committee OKs bus fare increase

The finance committee of the Augusta Commission voted unanimously Monday to recommend raising transit fares. The vote will be forwarded to the full commission at its Jan. 16 meeting.

If approved by the commission, the increases likely would not take effect for several months, transit officials said. They would coincide with the installation of electronic bus passes in transit vehicles.

The recommended increase would not apply to transfer fees, but regular passenger fares would go up 25 cents, from 75 cents to $1. Senior citizen, disabled and student fares would be increased from 35 cents to 50 cents. And the base fare for para-transit vehicles would rise 50 cents, to $2.

The fare increases, if approved, would raise an estimated $130,000 in additional revenue for the city and would mark the first time since 1991 that bus prices have gone up.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Suspect in shooting extradited

EDGEFIELD - The Augusta man accused of shooting an Edgefield County man and setting him on fire in October has been extradited, authorities said Monday.

Steven Wayne Bowman, 42, waived extradition to Edgefield County in a hearing last week in Richmond County, Edgefield County Sheriff's Investigator Alan Wintrow said. Mr. Bowman is charged with murder in connection with the shooting of Philip Holmes, 37.

Mr. Holmes was shot twice in the chest and his body was set on fire in front of his mobile home in Edgefield County's Red Hill community. Mr. Bowman was arrested at his Augusta home Oct. 29, three days after Mr. Holmes' body was discovered by his mother.

He is being held in the Edgefield County Detention Center, awaiting a bond hearing to be scheduled by the 11th Circuit Court. Mr. Bowman's trial is expected to begin at the end of March, officials said.

RICHMOND COUNTY
High court rules verdicts fair

The Georgia Supreme Court issued rulings Monday that upheld the murder convictions of two Richmond County men and one Burke County man.

In separate opinions, the court ruled that Samuel Bailey and Ray A. Payne were convicted fairly in Richmond County Superior Court and that Dewayne P. Burke also was fairly convicted in Burke County Superior Court. Each is serving a life sentence in prison for murder.

Mr. Bailey and Howard Gresham were arrested for the April 27, 1996, robbery and slaying of 77-year-old Frank Crapps. Mr. Gresham pleaded guilty to murder and testified against Mr. Bailey, who was then convicted by a jury. Mr. Payne was convicted of stabbing 69-year-old George Palmer to death July 4, 1998. The jury found Mr. Payne guilty but mentally ill.

Mr. Burke was convicted of murder and aggravated assault in Burke County for the April 19, 1999, killing of 28-year-old Derrick Smith, which occurred in front of police officers outside a nightclub.

AUGUSTA
Interim finance director named

A panel of the Augusta Commission on Monday appointed Assistant Comptroller Donna Williams as acting interim finance director. She will receive an automatic 15 percent raise, bringing her salary to $61,339.85. Comptroller Lon Morrey was fired by commissioners Jan. 2.

The finance department also extended the contract of former Medical College of Georgia Comptroller Al Slavens, who has been working as a consultant to the city for the past three months at $75 an hour. He will work on compiling information for the city's 2000 audit during the next 90 days. He told the finance committee of the Augusta Commission that working on the budget took him away from work he originally was scheduled to do on the audit.

LANGLEY
Man arrested in burglary

A Langley man has been arrested in connection with the burglary Sunday of an Aiken County home.

Kenneth Laverne Williams, 40, of the 100 block of Ralph Green Drive, was charged Sunday with second-degree burglary, Aiken County Sheriff's Lt. Michael Frank said Monday.

The two owners of the house walked in and found a man standing in their living room Sunday afternoon. The man walked out of the house but left behind a coat full of items he intended to take from the home, Lt. Frank said.

The sheriff's department, Aiken Bloodhound Team and the North Augusta Department of Public Safety tracked the man to his home. Sheriff's deputies executed a search warrant and found him hiding in a bathroom cabinet, Lt. Frank said.

Mr. Williams is being held in the Aiken County Detention Center.

AUGUSTA
Airport gets federal grant

The Federal Aviation Administration awarded Augusta Regional Airport at Bush Field more than $340,000 from the fiscal year 2001 Airport Improvement Program, Augusta Mayor Bob Young said in a news release Monday.

The grant will be used to fund projects to install fencing, expand general aviation apron and repair the runway, he said.

NORTH AUGUSTA
Presidential event delays concert

Soprano Sandi Patty canceled her Jan. 18 appearance at First Baptist Church in North Augusta because of a conflict: She will be singing at the inauguration festivities for George W. Bush in Washington on Jan. 20.

Ticket holders can attend her concert at the church, 602 Georgia Ave., at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 8.

Refunds can be obtained from the church office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays.

Tickets are still available for $15. For more information, call (803) 279-6370.

GEORGIA
Court negates murder conviction

ATLANTA -The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday overturned the murder convictions of three men accused of killing a pizza restaurant employee in Marietta in 1994, ruling they can't be retried because of double jeopardy.

Jeremy Prater, Erick Thomas and Josh Tomlinson were charged with the June 12, 1994, slaying of Jonathan Tripp, who was shot as he opened the back door of a Little Caesar's in Marietta.

All three were convicted of felony murder in 1995.

Later that year, a judge granted a new trial and vacated their convictions on grounds that there was no underlying felony to support the felony murder convictions. The judge said the prosecution failed to request that a charge of attempted armed robbery be given to the jury.

Prosecutors later moved for reconsideration of the judge's ruling, and the judge granted that motion, restoring the verdicts but granting a new trial on the instructional issue.

The defendants again appealed, saying that since the verdicts were vacated, trying them again would be double jeopardy.

The trial judge denied that appeal, but Mr. Prater, Mr. Thomas and Mr. Tomlinson appealed to the Supreme Court.