Originally created 01/10/01

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Woman charged in crash, robbery

Police arrested an Augusta woman Tuesday on charges stemming from an incident early Sunday morning that ended when she crashed a man's car into a Florence Street residence, according to a Richmond County Sheriff's Department report.

Lachaka Turnessa Stewart, 23, of the 1300 block of 10th Street, was charged with felony armed robbery, felony kidnapping, theft by taking a firearm, two counts of felony possession of a firearm during commission of crime, failure to maintain lane, no driver's license and hit-and-run, the report stated.

Joe Louis Butler, 62, of the 2900 block of Richmond Hill Road, told police he, Ms. Stewart and another woman had been at a bar shooting pool and had left together to go to Ms. Stewart's house, the report stated.

On the way, Ms. Stewart took a gun Mr. Butler had in his car and robbed him of $13. She then began beating him and lost control of the car, which crashed into the front porch of a house in the 1300 block of Florence Street. The occupants called the police, and Ms. Stewart and the other woman fled, the report stated.

Mr. Butler later showed officers where Ms. Stewart lived, the report stated.

Teen indicted in fatal robbery

A teen-ager charged in the Nov. 27 robbery and slaying at a west Augusta convenience store was indicted Tuesday.

A Richmond County grand jury issued an indictment Tuesday accusing Curtis M. Woodyard Jr., 17, of malice murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, burglary, arson in the third degree, possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime, and possession of a sawed-off shotgun.

Mr. Woodyard is accused of killing 48-year-old Gordon Petty on Nov. 27 after robbing the Holiday Market at gunpoint. According to the indictment, the teen-ager gathered cash, reportedly $15, and three cartons of Newport cigarettes and set fire to the store's security camera. Mr. Petty's body was found behind the Wheeler Road store. He had been shot in the head.

A second man also charged in connection with the robbery-slaying - Edward E. Judkins, 26, - was not indicted Tuesday with Mr. Woodyard. Mr. Judkins faces unrelated charges of armed robbery, kidnapping and attempted armed robbery in Dec. 28 crimes at a McDonald's restaurant on Washington Road.

Mr. Woodyard and Mr. Judkins are both being held in jail without bond.

Man pleads self-defense in slaying

An Augusta man accused of murder told the jury Tuesday he couldn't explain exactly how another man was shot to death, but it happened in self-defense.

"I was just trying to save my own life," Michael Kidd, 26, told the Richmond County Superior Court jury. Mr. Kidd was the last witness to testify.

Today the jury should begin deliberations to decide whether Mr. Kidd's shooting of 23-year-old Ronald Davenport was self-defense or an act of murder.

Mr. Davenport died Sept. 17, 1999, with gunshot wounds to his back, arm and leg. Mr. Kidd and Mr. Davenport ended up in a confrontation and struggle that night in the American Legion parking lot on Highland Avenue, and Mr. Davenport was shot.

Mr. Kidd has been held in jail without bond since his arrest.

Musical honors civil-rights leader

The fifth-grade pupils of Brookwood Elementary School will present the musical I Remember Martin Luther King Jr. at 9 a.m. today at the school on South Old Belair Road.

The free production, which includes more than 125 pupils, also will be performed at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Wrightsboro Road and at 9:30 a.m. Friday at Gracewood Elementary School.

For information, call Johnny Carr at 855-7538.

County gets greenspace funds

ATLANTA - Richmond County's plan for developing trails for walking, jogging and biking got a boost of more than $500,000 last week from the Georgia Greenspace Commission.

The commission awarded Richmond County $592,826, a figure based on population. So far, 10 counties have received grants to implement detailed conservation plans submitted to the commission.

"No two are alike, but all address the need to protect greenspace and livability as the communities grow," said commission Chairman Clay Long.

To qualify for funding, each of Georgia's 40 largest and fastest-growing counties must submit a blueprint for preserving at least 20 percent of their land. Those preserves can be used for hunting, fishing, scenic areas, historic resources or protection of water quality.

"Communities that contain adequate greenspace are places where people want to live, work and play," said Gov. Roy Barnes, sponsor of the state's set-aside program. "Quality of life is extremely important when businesses decide where to locate. Protecting greenspace helps Georgia's communities attract business and stay economically competitive."

Sewer work will close two streets

Sections of Fenwick Street and 11th Street will be closed for sewer-line work between today at 8:30 a.m. and Jan. 19 at 4:30 p.m.

The closing will occur on Fenwick Street from 10th Street to 12th Street and on 11th Street from Walton Way to Telfair Street. Officials advise motorists to use Walton Way, Telfair Street and 12th Street as detour routes.

Infoline undergoes repairs

The computer that operates The Augusta Chronicle's Infoline is being repaired and is expected to be back in service by Thursday.

Lowell Dorn, director of Morris Network Services, said he is waiting for a replacement for the operating unit, which is to be delivered today.

Anyone wishing to submit a comment to Rants & Raves can fax a submission to 722-7403 or e-mail it to newsroom@augustachronicle.

Meeting will study rezoning plans

The first of two public meetings to review a school rezoning plan for Columbia County will be held Thursday night.

Several proposals will be presented to relieve overcrowding at Evans Elementary School, South Columbia Elementary School and Blue Ridge Elementary School. Essentially, the rezoning plan will shift some pupils from those schools and place them at Greenbrier and Stevens Creek elementary schools, where new additions will be built to accommodate the extra pupils.

The first public meeting will be at 6 p.m. Thursday at Lakeside Middle School. The second meeting will be Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Riverside Middle School.

Also at the meeting, the board approved a March 20 referendum to reimpose the special purpose local option sales tax, which could raise up to $70 million.

The referendum is tied to a $16 million bond issue to begin construction on a $6.5 million Grovetown Middle School, a new $3.6 million elementary school and $3.4 million for classroom additions at Evans, Greenbrier and Lakeside high schools.

Kitten remains lost after fire

Firefighters were still looking for a kitten left behind during a house fire off Old Savannah Road on Tuesday night. While family members were able to save a small dog and a rabbit after an electrical panel ignited in a back bedroom, they couldn't find their cat, Jasper, said Tonya Lewis, 32.

The Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department arrived at about 6:15 p.m. and found the back of the one-story frame house on the 1900 block of Gay Drive engulfed in flames, Capt. Richard Burts said. It took a dozen firefighters about 10 minutes to knock down the flames, he said. While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, the captain said firefighters believe a short in the power box was to blame.

Five people were in the house before the fire, including Ms. Lewis; her mother, Myrtice Gilliam; her 14-year-old daughter; her 11-year-old son; and Daniel Hoover, 25. Mr. Hoover said the panel started smoking, and when he took a closer look it "blew up in his face." Flames spread across the ceiling. A next-door neighbor said his lights flickered.

At least one room was destroyed by the fire; the rest of the house suffered smoke damage, Capt. Burts said.

The family and Mr. Hoover were staying with friends and family Tuesday night.

Marines target city for training

CHARLESTON - Marine Corps helicopters will land in downtown Thursday to train for urban warfare.

The drills started Monday in Savannah. They often involve mock assaults on a city's buildings to teach Marines how to deal with hostage or terrorist situations, said Marine Reserve Lt. Col. Diedreich von Lehe III.

No such assaults are planned in Charleston, an urban training site for the Marines since the late 1980s, he said.


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