Originally created 07/10/01

Across the area



COLUMBIA COUNTY
Woman was killed by car, police say

A 32-year-old Martinez woman found dead in her driveway early Monday probably died after being run over by her own car, authorities said.

Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said the preliminary investigation indicates that Kwitan Smith, of the 700 block of Hickory Oak Hollow, was fatally injured by her 1993 Mercury Sable when she tried to stop it from rolling down the driveway.

Her body was discovered about 3:45 a.m. by her husband in the driveway of their Brookfield West residence, Capt. Morris said.

Ms. Smith's body and her vehicle have been sent to the state crime laboratory in Atlanta for further investigation.

AUGUSTA
Deputy on leave after shooting

A Richmond County sheriff's deputy is on administrative leave after his gun discharged during a struggle with a suspect. The suspect received a grazing wound under his left eye and across his nose, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Martin Moses, a special agent in charge of the GBI regional office in Thomson, said Monday that Deputy Richard Dixon fought with Nicholas Warren III at the conclusion of a high-speed chase that ended in Burke County.

Authorities said the suspect, Mr. Warren, was driving a stolen car during the chase. Richmond County Sheriff's Office records indicate the 1986 Volvo was stolen from Redd Drive on Wednesday.

Mr. Warren was taken into custody at 6 p.m. at Medical College of Georgia Hospital. He is charged with theft by taking, reckless driving, fleeing or attempting to elude, DUI, an open container violation, driving without a license and an outstanding warrant for domestic abuse.

A passenger in the vehicle, Wanda McCorkle, has not been charged, Agent Moses said.

AUGUSTA
Man faces new indecency charge

A Waynesboro man accused of exposing himself to a woman in traffic on Old Savannah Road last week faces an additional public indecency charge.

According to Richmond County Sheriff's Office records, the new charge against William Holt, 20, stems from an incident March 28 in the parking lot of La Pavilion shopping center off Washington Road. A 25-year-old woman reported that as she got into her car, a man ran up to her window, exposed and fondled himself, then ran away.

Mr. Holt already faced a public indecency charge in a July 2 incident. Sgt. Wayne Bunton said a woman reported that a man drove alongside her car as she was driving on Old Savannah Road, turned on the interior light of his car, leaned toward the window and exposed himself.

In May, Mr. Holt was arrested in Burke County, and in July of 1999 he was arrested in Fayette County - both times for the same type of behavior, Sgt. Bunton said.

Mr. Holt was being held in the Richmond County jail Monday night on $3,000 bond.

BURKE COUNTY
Man receives life term in attack

WAYNESBORO - One of the men accused in the robbery and stabbing of a Waynesboro minister pleaded guilty Monday and received a life sentence as the trial for the second suspect began.

Charles Collins, 25, pleaded guilty in Burke County Superior Court to armed robbery and other charges. Chief Judge William M. Fleming Jr. sentenced Mr. Collins to life plus five years for his part in the Jan. 26 assault on the Rev. Wayne Dixon.

The Rev. Dixon, pastor of Botsford Baptist Church, was hit with pepper spray and stabbed in the back by two masked men as he got out of his truck in his driveway.

Mr. Collins is expected to testify this week at the trial of Travis Osborne, 20. Officials said Mr. Collins confessed to Burke County sheriff's officers and implicated Mr. Osborne in the crime.

AUGUSTA
Judge delays ruling on request

Before an Augusta man can argue that his 15-year prison sentence for child molestation is too harsh, he first must convince a judge that he didn't give up his right to make such a request.

Judge Carl C. Brown Jr. said Monday in Richmond County Superior Court that he would decide later whether Donald Harmon, 42, can have a hearing about reducing his sentence. First, the judge told opposing attorneys, he will determine whether a legal document Mr. Harmon signed, giving up his right to ask for a sentence reduction, is binding.

On June 29, Judge Brown sentenced Mr. Harmon to 15 years in prison, to be followed by five years on probation. Mr. Harmon had pleaded guilty to child molestation, admitting he had sexual relations with a 14-year-old girl. In exchange for the guilty plea, the prosecutor dropped several additional charges.

Since June 2, 2000, District Attorney Danny Craig has required defendants entering plea agreements to sign a legal document that includes the provision about relinquishing the right to ask for a sentence reduction.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Links sought between robberies

EDGEFIELD - Edgefield County authorities are investigating whether an armed robbery suspect robbed Security Finance in Edgefield.

Sheriff's investigators sent hair samples from Abddullah Faris Bilal to the State Law Enforcement Division. The sample will be compared with hairs found in a bandana the robber dropped near the scene of Thursday's robbery at Security Finance, said Capt. Roger Lowe, of the Edgefield County Sheriff's Office. That robbery took place about 7 p.m.

Mr. Bilal, 22, of Jeter Street, Trenton, was arrested Friday and charged in connection with the armed robbery of Four Seasons convenience store in Graniteville about 10 p.m. Thursday. A store clerk told authorities the robber confronted her as she left a cooler and ordered her to put money from the cash register into a paper bag.

Edgefield County investigators say two men robbed the loan company the same day, both wearing baseball hats and bandanas. No one was hurt in either robbery.

Mr. Bilal was being held without bond Monday in the Aiken County Detention Center.

AUGUSTA
Meeting set on minority issues

Special needs and health care problems faced by minorities will be handled by a special Georgia office that is seeking input in Augusta tonight.

The Office of Minority Health of the Department of Community Health will hold a town hall meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. at Beulah Grove Community Resource Center, 1446 Linden St. The meeting is the first of several that the office is holding around the state this month.

Minorities make up about 36 percent of the state's population but suffer a disproportionately high level of diabetes and deaths from heart disease and cancer. The office is looking for input that will help form a minority health plan for the state.

GEORGIA
Schrenko gets scholarship award

ATLANTA - State school Superintendent Linda Schrenko has been awarded a full scholarship from the Women Executives in State Government's Excellence in Leadership program.

Mrs. Schrenko, a Columbia County resident who is running for governor, was selected for the Senior Executives in State and Local Government program at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Mass.

She is one of only two Women Executives in State Government members in the nation to receive full scholarships for the three-week program, which began July 8.

"It is an honor to follow in the footsteps of some of the distinguished government leaders who have completed the program," Mrs. Schrenko stated in a news release. "I am looking forward to the challenge this (program) offers and the rigorous studies they have scheduled for us."