Originally created 03/20/01

Across the area

Justices uphold murder verdicts

In unanimous decisions released Monday, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the murder convictions of two Augusta men convicted in 1997.

In one case, the court ruled Reginald Cummings, now 28, was fairly convicted in Richmond County Superior Court of murder in the Dec. 26, 1996, slaying of Alphonzo Williams, 20. According to trial witnesses, Mr. Williams was shot because he knew that Mr. Cummings and several others were involved in the Dec. 5, 1996, slaying of Jermaine Burris, 24. In the Burris homicide, Mr. Cummings was convicted only of aggravated assault.

In the other case, the Supreme Court found that Jose Padilla, now 25, had been fairly tried and convicted of murder in the Sept. 17, 1996, slaying of Christopher Price, 20. A second man tried with Mr. Padilla, Clement Davenport, was acquitted.

Mr. Cummings and Mr. Padilla are each serving life sentences for murder.

Condon wants nonaggression pact

COLUMBIA - Republican Attorney General Charlie Condon, who is running for governor, wants his competitors for the GOP nomination to pledge they will criticize only Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges and not one another.

Mr. Condon said Monday he signed the pledge and sent it to other Republicans considering a run for the office: Secretary of State Jim Miles, Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler, former U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, Ken Wingate and state Sen. Bill Branton of Summerville.

In his letter, Mr. Condon urges them to work together to ensure that Mr. Hodges is a one-term governor.

Mr. Branton said he would not sign the pledge because it was inappropriate to talk about the election so soon. He said he had not decided whether to run for governor.

Mr. Peeler was out of town. Mr. Miles' spokeswoman said he had pledged previously to run a clean campaign but had not seen the letter and so could not comment on it.

State Democratic Chairman Dick Harpootlian said the other GOP candidates should be wary of Mr. Condon.

Memorial for teen set for today

Services will be held today for a South Aiken High School junior who died Saturday from injuries he received in a car wreck last week.

Nathan Eldridge Kennedy, 17, of 100 Laurel Oak Drive, died at Medical College of Georgia Hospital two days after he flipped his 1988 Nissan Pathfinder four times on Lakeside Drive in Aiken.

William Finley, 16, also of Aiken, was a passenger in the vehicle. He was treated and released from MCG. Both teen-agers were wearing their seat belts, said South Carolina Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. R.K. Hughes.

The accident took place on a curve on Lakeside Drive at 7:10 p.m. Thursday, officials said. The sport utility vehicle overturned four times and landed upright in the road, Lance Cpl. Hughes said. Officials said speed was a contributing factor in the accident.

A memorial service for Nathan will be held at 4 p.m. today at St. Johns United Methodist Church. The family will receive friends at the church after the service.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Nathan Kennedy Computer Fund at South Aiken High School, 232 E. Pine Log Road, Aiken, SC 29803.

Robbery suspect already in jail

The man who police say robbed an Aiken County convenience store last week already is in the Richmond County jail.

The Aiken County Sheriff's Office holds an arrest warrant for armed robbery on James Monroe Crayon, 35, of 309 Sibley Road, Augusta, Lt. Michael Frank said Monday.

Police say a man wore a goalie mask and was armed with a handgun March 13 when he robbed Todd's Shop and Go, 1181 Sand Bar Ferry Road in Beech Island.

Mr. Crayon is being held at the Augusta-Richmond County Law Enforcement Center, charged with robbing the Holiday Market at Boy Scout and Skinner Mill roads on Friday.

Tammy Kim Clay, 23, of the 300 block of Sibley Road, also is being held at the law enforcement center in connection with the Augusta robbery.

Plan raises ticket service fees

ATLANTA - The service charge on tickets bought over the telephone or Internet could rise 60 percent if the House agrees with an amendment to a bill authorizing ticket resales passed by the state Senate on Monday.

The Senate agreed 25-22 to allow ticket services, such as Ticketmaster, to raise the maximum service charge from $3 to $5. The measure will have to go to a conference committee that will work out an agreement that can win approval of both chambers.

The amendment was added to a bill that would legalize the reselling of tickets to plays, sporting events and concerts. If the bill becomes law, individuals would be able to sell tickets to brokers or anyone, and professional brokers would be able to operate legally in Georgia after posting a surety bond and establishing an office in the state.

Similar bills have been passed by both chambers in each of the past three years, but all ended up vetoed. This year, Gov. Roy Barnes and representatives of professional sports teams and promoters have negotiated with lawmakers about the wording, said Sen. Charles Walker, D-Augusta.

Stamp thief sentenced to prison

ATHENS - A former University of Georgia employee was sentenced Monday to five years in prison after pleading guilty to stealing more than $300,000 worth of postage stamps.

Authorities said R. Wayne Nobles had the university issue checks to the postmaster, asked for stamps in return and then traded them for merchandise and trips, sold them to vendors and used them for his private business.

A Clarke County judge ordered restitution of $319,000 and said he would rule today on how Mr. Nobles must pay the money. Mr. Nobles, who resigned from the university in 1999 after 21 years, also was sentenced to 15 years' probation.

The thefts took place between 1992 and 1998, authorities said. Mr. Nobles was arrested last year in Fort Worth, Texas, where he was employed by Tarrant County College.

An investigation revealed that Mr. Nobles also stole thousands of dollars of envelopes, stationery, film, computers and parts, state Attorney General Thurbert Baker said.

Hodges praises tax holiday plan

WEST COLUMBIA - Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges praised the South Carolina House on Monday for including a second sales tax holiday in the state budget.

The Republican-controlled House passed a budget bill last week that included the second tax holiday, to be held in February. The Senate still must approve it.

Mr. Hodges wanted the additional tax-free weekend after the success of a similar weekend in August when, he said, merchants took in an estimated $250 million.


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