Originally created 01/19/01

Across the area



AUGUSTA
Indictment issued in bank robbery

A federal indictment accuses a Dunwoody, Ga., man of robbing the Wachovia Bank on Tobacco Road on Jan. 2.

Charged is Lewis Stephen Johnson, 31. The federal indictment, issued last week, accuses Mr. Johnson of robbing the bank of $4,018. Police reported earlier that Mr. Johnson handed a teller a note stating he had a gun.

Also named in the indictment, on a charge of accessory after the fact, is Monique Yvonne Coppin, 30, of the 1800 block of Watkins Street. She is accused of hindering the apprehension by allegedly driving Mr. Johnson to the Atlanta area the night after the robbery.

GEORGIA
Couple to wed in natural Habitat

VALDOSTA - A Valdosta woman and a man she met on a Habitat for Humanity site in New Zealand will marry Sunday amid the familiar smell of plywood and the creak of the floor of an unfinished Habitat house.

The house will be decorated with flowers, greenery and a special steeple for the marriage of Ann Bennett and Jim Dowman.

"The whole of Habitat is really about relationships - relationships with the poor and relationships with people around the world," said Mr. Dowman, who met Ms. Bennett in 1999.

She was a divorcee who had just retired from her job as a special needs counselor in the Lowndes County schools and decided to travel to New Zealand with a team of builders for Habitat. He was a widower recently retired from his job in a timber company.

After hitting it off, the two paid frequent visits to each other in their respective countries, and this past Christmas they decided to get married in one of the houses being built in Valdosta.

GEORGIA
Man's molestation charges grow

MARIETTA - A dozen more molestation charges have been filed against a church martial arts instructor in Marietta.

Cobb County police filed 11 more counts of child molestation and one count of aggravated child molestation last week against Gunther Fiek.

The latest charges accuse Mr. Fiek, 30, of molesting children ages 6, 9, 10 and 11 between October 1996 and November 2000. The additional charges bring the total to 24 - including three charges of aggravated child molestation - against the former instructor at Eastside Baptist Church.

The church, one of the largest in Atlanta's affluent northwestern suburbs, has nearly 5,000 members.

Mr. Fiek remains in jail at the Cobb County Adult Detention Center.

He taught tae kwon do lessons to almost 100 children at Eastside.

GEORGIA
Driver charged in bicyclist's death

WAYCROSS - A 31-year-old man was charged with vehicular homicide and driving under the influence in a hit-and-run accident that killed a 14-year-old Waycross boy riding his bicycle.

Owen Smith of Ware County was arrested and charged Wednesday.

Jimmy Lee Davis Jr., 14, was struck by a pickup truck Tuesday night while riding his bicycle on the shoulder of U.S. Highway 84 about three miles from Ware County High School, where he was a freshman, state troopers said.

Mr. Smith, a convicted felon on probation for theft, also was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, driving with a suspended license, no proof of insurance, failure to report an accident and failure to maintain the proper lane.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Police hall of fame reopens

COLUMBIA - The South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame has reopened after being closed for more than two years during an almost $257,000 renovation.

The exhibit, formerly known as the South Carolina Criminal Justice Hall of Fame, serves as a memorial to officers who have been killed and as a way to explain how law enforcement works. New exhibits include 1930s patrol uniforms, a fingerprint kit, an extensive police-patch collection and a blue light and siren, the Public Safety Department said Thursday.

The building, which is part of the department's Broad River Road complex north of Columbia, closed in December 1998. It required major repairs that included the roof and wiring, the department said.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Woman will face charges in death

COLUMBIA - A Columbia woman accused in the death of popular dentist Harry Sunshine is expected to return this week to face charges.

Tshona Gaymon, 29, has been in jail in Atlanta for a probation violation. She has given up her right to fight a return to South Carolina to face charges, Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. R.K. Hughes said Thursday.

Troopers charged Ms. Gaymon in November with reckless homicide and leaving the scene of a deadly accident. Dr. Sunshine, 55, died after someone hit his bicycle as he rode along a road in northeast Columbia Sept. 30.

Ms. Gaymon was charged after her husband, Charles Outlaw, 32, turned himself in and told troopers she was driving his car. Mr. Outlaw has been charged with failing to report an accident involving his vehicle.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Freight train kills motorist

COLUMBIA - A Kershaw County woman has been killed after driving into the path of a freight train.

The 1990 Buick Century driven by 77-year-old Margaret Clark was hit by a CSX train Wednesday morning at a crossing about three miles north of Elgin.

Ms. Clark, who was not wearing a seat belt, died of multiple injuries, Kershaw County Coroner Johnny Fellers said.

Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. Kelley Hughes said he didn't know how fast the train was going. The speed limit for that area is 45 mph. The crossing does not have lights, warning bells or crossing arms, Lance Cpl. Hughes said. There is a stop sign, a crossing sign and markings on the pavement.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Catawbas drop federal fight

CATAWBA INDIAN RESERVATION - Leaders of the Catawba Indian Nation say they will stop fighting a federal judge's order and will proceed with efforts to create a constitution and hold elections.

The tribe's attorney, Jay Bender, called the move a "gesture of unity," but at least one of the tribe members who had sued to speed up the process of electing new leaders says a full meeting should be held this month with nominations for office.

The October ruling, which did not specify a date for elections, was in response to the lawsuit. Some tribe members complained the tribe was moving too slowly on elections after receiving federal recognition in 1993.

AIKEN
Man arrested for theft in police lot

When deputies got a call that someone was breaking into vehicles and stealing electronics, they knew exactly where to go - the sheriff's impound lot where a dispatcher had heard glass breaking.

The man captured inside the fence, Byron Wade Mathis, 22, of Aiken, was charged with illegal entry and breaking into a motor vehicle.

A police report said Mr. Mathis climbed the razor wire-topped fence and took hundreds of dollars worth of electronics from vehicles early Monday.

The thefts were discovered when a dispatcher went on break outside the main building and heard the breaking glass, said Lt. Michael Frank of the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.

A deputy saw a man crawling underneath a pickup truck and arrested Mr. Mathis, Lt. Frank said. All the items were recovered, including a radio that had been thrown over the fence, he said.