Originally created 05/04/01

Across the area

Beating victim remains critical

A patient who was attacked and severely beaten by another patient at Gracewood State School and Hospital a month ago remains in critical condition, said a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent.

The man, who was beaten April 1, has been transferred from the hospital to Gracewood but is still receiving oxygen, said Mike Seigler, assistant special agent in charge of the GBI's Thomson office.

The GBI has been investigating the attack at the request of Gracewood officials, Agent Seigler said.

The names of the victim and his alleged attacker, also a Gracewood patient, cannot be released because of privacy issues, Agent Seigler said.

Sexual battery suspect surrenders

A 19-year-old Grovetown man wanted in connection with the sexual battery of a 12-year-old girl surrendered to authorities Wednesday afternoon.

Michael Shelton Lavallee was arrested at the Grovetown Department of Public Safety about 5 p.m. and detained in the Grovetown jail, said Grovetown Capt. Mark Bowen. As of Wednesday night, no bond had been set.

According to Capt. Bowen, the case was reported April 24 and involved a man driving a girl to a store from a friend's house and fondling her in his car against her will. He did not let her out of the car and later took her home, Capt. Bowen said.

Part of road closing for repairs

Only one lane of Skinner Mill Road will be open today between Warren Road and Scotts Way because of roadway repairs. Workers will pace traffic in both directions through the single lane. Both lanes are expected to be reopened by this afternoon.

Ex-senator Abernathy released

ATLANTA - Former state Sen. Ralph David Abernathy III was released from an Atlanta halfway house Thursday after serving about a year of his four-year prison sentence for misappropriating state money.

The son and namesake of a confidant of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. Abernathy was sentenced last year for falsifying legislative expense accounts and forging vouchers for state reimbursements totaling $5,700. He was also convicted of trying to influence a witness.

Mr. Abernathy, 42, also must serve six years of probation.

"I am spiritually, mentally and physically stronger," Mr. Abernathy told reporters after his release, thanking his family and supporters. "I'm putting the past behind me now and I'm reaching to those things that are before me."

Mr. Abernathy served his sentence at the state prison in Jesup before he was transferred to the Atlanta Transitional Center about six months ago.

He served three terms in the state Senate until the 1998 elections, when he was barred from seeking re-election because his qualifying check bounced.

Deputy convicted in shooting

AMERICUS - A former Sumter County sheriff's deputy accused of staging his own shooting was convicted Wednesday of three charges.

A Sumter County Superior Court jury found Gary Carter guilty of violating his oath of office, giving false statements and making a false report of a crime. He was acquitted of a fourth charge, criminal interference with government property.

Mr. Carter alleged that a black man driving a pickup truck shot at him four times, but missed, on Jan. 22, 2000. The report led authorities on an eight-week search for the gunman. After an investigation, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation concluded that Mr. Carter made up the story.

Mr. Carter had been with the sheriff's department since 1981 but was forced to leave after the shooting.

Mr. Carter, who has worked at the Sumter County Correctional Institution since July as a maintenance supervisor, maintains his innocence.

He will be sentenced May 11 and could face 11 years in prison. District Attorney Cecilia Cooper said her office hasn't decided what sentence to recommend.

Team removing Hunley's bellows

CHARLESTON - Scientists will remove an air bellows encrusted to the hull of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley so they can continue their search for the captain's remains.

The leather-and-wood bellows was used by the crew to circulate air into the hand-cranked sub.

Scientists must remove the bellows to reach the front of the sub where they think they will find the remains of Lt. George Dixon, said Bob Neyland, Hunley project manager.

When archaeologists began excavating the sediment-filled sub, they thought the bellows was a wooden stool.

They found the remains of a crewman on top of wooden object and deducted that it was the bellows and the crewman was likely trying to circulate air into the submarine as it sank.

The Hunley sank in February 1864 shortly after exploding the Union blockade ship Housatonic off Charleston by ramming a spar with a black powder charge in the vessel. The sub was raised last year and brought to a conservation lab at the old Charleston Navy base.

Construction leaves motorists flat

HILTON HEAD ISLAND - With so much construction on this resort island, residents here can't seem to steer clear of road debris that causes flat tires.

Island Tire is patching or changing 20 tires a day between its two stores, said store partner Charles Gaymon.

Street sweepers have been working to keep nails and screws off the streets, said Frank Margotta, facilities manager for the town. And deputies say they will issue littering tickets against work crews that spill debris.

The flat tires are an ongoing problem. Last year so many nails and other construction debris were spilled in Sun City Hilton Head that the company running the community paid for some repairs.

Pat Delello had both front tires on his car patched Wednesday at Island Tire.

"I have no idea where I picked them up. There's so much construction going on in the area that it could have pretty much happened anywhere," Mr. Delello said. "You really can't go a block on the island without seeing some kind of contracting or construction going on."


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