Originally created 04/02/02

Across the area



Jurors continue LeBlanc exam

A Gaston County, N.C., grand jury will continue work today on criminal cases that are expected to include a sexual assault charge against former Augusta resident Aaron LeBlanc.

Mr. LeBlanc, 19, was arrested by Gastonia police March 18 after a 24-year-old neighbor reported she had been raped. Mr. LeBlanc moved to Gastonia after he was acquitted Feb. 21 in Augusta in three rape cases.

Mr. LeBlanc was briefly freed on a $100,000 bond after his arrest in Gastonia, but a mistake with the bonding company led a Gaston County judge to void that bond, and Mr. LeBlanc was arrested March 22 in Martinez. He has been held in the Gastonia jail since then, and his bond has been increased to $500,000.

Arrest warrants accusing Mr. LeBlanc of making terroristic threats were issued in Augusta last week. Those charges stem from a letter Mr. LeBlanc wrote while awaiting trial in Richmond County Superior Court. In the letter, he threatened to kill his three accusers.

Jury will deliberate in aggravated assault

A jury is expected to begin deliberations Wednesday to decide whether a Hephzibah man who struck another young man in the head with a baseball bat is guilty of aggravated assault.

Justin W. Fields, 19, told a Richmond County Superior Court jury on Monday that he was under assault by brothers Brandon and Joseph Smith the night of May 5 and swung a bat at Brandon Smith to keep him away. Mr. Fields has pleaded innocent.

The incident took place in the parking lot of Washington Crossing on Washington Road. Brandon Smith was severely injured from the blow to his head and was left physically disabled, his brother testified Monday.

Car-backhoe accident breaks operator's leg

A man operating a backhoe was injured Monday when the vehicle overturned.

Sgt. David Turno, of the Aiken Department of Public Safety, said the driver of a southbound Toyota Corolla cut off the eastbound backhoe at about 4 p.m. on Greenville Street at the Barnwell Avenue intersection.

Johnny Jenkins, 49, of Branchville, an employee of construction contractors H.G. Reynolds Co. Inc., was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital.

"The operator was trapped under (the backhoe) for 15 minutes," Sgt. Turno said. "His leg was pretty bad. It's at least broken."

The car's driver, Constance Michelle McKie, 34, of 222 Trimmier Place in North Augusta, was charged with failing to yield the right of way.

Ms. McKie and two juveniles in the car were taken to Aiken Regional Medical Centers. They were not seriously injured, Sgt. Turno said.

Firefighters respond to call at yarn plant

A fire between the roof and the ceiling tiles at Advanced Glassfiber Yarns in Aiken was extinguished Monday by a sprinkler system and an hour's work from firefighters.

Sgt. David Turno, of the Aiken Department of Public Safety, said the fire at the plant on Wagener Road started about 11 a.m. above a light ballast in the ceiling tiles. It was mostly extinguished by a sprinkler system before firefighters arrived.

Nevertheless, firefighters spent more than an hour looking for and putting out hot spots, Sgt. Turno said.

No one was injured, and no significant damage was reported.

Boys' mothers face supervision charge

The mothers of two Waynesboro, Ga., boys charged in a rash of car break-ins will appear in court Monday on charges of failing to supervise their children.

Waynesboro Police Chief Karl E. Allen said the boys are being held in the Youth Detention Center in Augusta. They are charged with breaking into several cars, mostly between midnight and 6 a.m.

The mothers, Cynthia Ellison and Queen Lewis, are among the first to be charged under a recently enacted city ordinance, Chief Allen said. The charges carry a possible sentence of 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Voting set for today in Edgefield, Johnston

Voters in Edgefield and Johnston, S.C., will cast votes today in contested mayoral races.

In Johnston, incumbent Mayor Dean Campbell is running against businesswoman Mary Alice Jackson.

Mr. Campbell is trying to retain the seat he has held since 1996.

In Edgefield, Bob McKie Jr., who served as mayor from 1981 to 1986, is challenging businessman Frank Feltham.

Several council members in both towns are running unopposed.

Voting will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, call (803) 637-4072.

SRS grounds searched for missing woman, 86

The search for a missing New Ellenton woman with Alzheimer's disease moved to Savannah River Site property in nearby Jackson on Monday.

New Ellenton Police Chief Van McMillan said Jackson had not yet been searched for 86-year-old Mary Alice Dixon.

The Department of Energy allowed the two-hour afternoon search in vehicles across a 35-square-mile area. The search turned up no sign of the woman.

Ms. Dixon walked away from her home March 20. She was seen walking on U.S. Highway 278, but no new sightings have been reported.

Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call (803) 652-2214.

Grandmother, child missing

Police were searching late Monday for a missing 1-year-old Augusta boy and his stepgrandmother.

Tekel Dunn and Alice Pacquette, 58, were last seen at 8:30 a.m., driving away from Ms. Pacquette's McKibben Street residence in Augusta, said Richmond County Sheriff's Office Investigator Dan Carrier.

Tekel's mother, Natasha Brown, of the 1400 block of Poplar Street, told police Ms. Pacquette was baby-sitting her son. At 3:30 p.m., Ms. Pacquette called Ms. Brown to say she was stuck in traffic, Investigator Carrier said.

Tekel is described as black, 2 feet tall and weighing 17 pounds. Ms. Pacquette is black, about 4 feet, 11 inches tall and weighing 180 pounds. They were last seen in a champagne-colored 2000 Chevrolet Malibu.

Anyone with information should call the sheriff's office at 821-1080.