Originally created 07/20/02

Across the area



Mother jailed in child burning

An Augusta woman accused of burning her daughter with a curling iron pleaded guilty to child abuse charge Friday and received a five-year prison sentence.

Latonya Levi, 34, had never been convicted of any crime before Friday in Richmond County Superior Court. What made it worse, said Judy Shipes, of Augusta Child Advocacy, was that Ms. Levi's family pleaded with mental health and child welfare officials for a year before the burning. Nothing was done until Dec. 7, when the 10-year-old showed adults the second-degree burns on her arms, legs, torso and forehead.

Ms. Levi pleaded guilty to cruelty to children. Senior Judge Bernard J. Mulherin Sr. sentenced her to the minimum of five years.

Car passenger dies after being ejected

A Rocky Ford, Ga., man died Thursday night after being thrown from a car in an accident near Millen, police said.

Brandon Wayne Holland, 22, was the passenger in a 1994 Dodge Stealth that overturned after the driver apparently overcorrected his steering. The car had been southbound on Georgia Highway 17 when it went off the road at about 9:20 p.m., said Sgt. Tad Bentley, of Georgia State Patrol Post 21 in Sylvania.

The driver, Brian Levy Lowery, 19, also of Rocky Ford, was conscious when officers and emergency personnel responded to the scene, Sgt. Bentley said.

Mr. Lowery was in fair condition at Medical College of Georgia Hospital on Friday.

Sgt. Bentley said it is likely that neither of the two men had been wearing seat belts, but an investigation into the one-car crash is pending. In accordance with state law, blood tests will be conducted to see whether drugs or alcohol were involved in the crash, he said.

Grass fires ignite near highway exits

Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department Engine Company 13 responded to a set of small grass fires along Bobby Jones Expressway on Friday morning.

At about 9 a.m., grass fires along the highway were reported, including spots near Deans Bridge Road, Peach Orchard Road and Mike Padgett Highway.

Capt. Mike Cummings said there were about four small fires that did not appear to have been maliciously set. He said it looked as though someone with car trouble had pulled off the eastbound side of Bobby Jones a few times. Hot oil dripping from a car could have set the dry grass on fire in Friday's heat, Capt. Cummings said.

Frustrated gunman fails holdup attempt

Police are searching for two men in the attempted armed robbery of PJ's convenience store at 3184 Skinner Mill Road on Thursday night.

Jong Soon Nathanson, the store's owner, was preparing to close when a man with a shirt covering his face pointed a gun at her and demanded money, she told police. She hid behind the counter and did not give the man any money, so he left.

Another employee was behind the store emptying a mop bucket when the man tried to rob the store, said Lt. Jimmy Young, of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office. The employee told police he saw the man leave the store and speak to another man in the parking lot who wore a blue ski mask.

Police look for man in July 4 robbery

Richmond County Sheriff's Office investigators are looking for the man they say robbed a convenience store at gunpoint July 4.

Police have a warrant for the arrest of Jerry Jones, 24, of Hephzibah. Mr. Jones is wanted because police say he held up the Golden Pantry food store at the BP gas station in front of the Augusta Mall.

Mr. Jones' last known address was in the 4200 block of Bath Edie Road. Anyone with information on his location is asked to call the sheriff's office at (706) 821-1080.

Man faces charges of child molestation

Police arrested Russell Keith Pitts, 19, of the 2200 block of Nellie Road, on charges of aggravated child molestation Thursday.

Mr. Pitts was staying at the home of a friend when an 8-year-old girl was molested. The girl's mother had left the house, and her boyfriend was watching the child.

The boyfriend told police he opened a door to a room and saw Mr. Pitts and the girl with their pants down.

Football fund-raiser planned for ill infant

The Children's Organ Transplant Association for Ania Night will be at the Augusta Stallions game at 7:30 tonight at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center.

Ania Yarish, a 7-month-old from Martinez, received a life-saving liver transplant June 23.

The event will help raise money to pay for transplant costs, which have exceeded $100,000. Footballs to be thrown during the game will be sold before kickoff. The proceeds and donations will go to the campaign.

Election board sets voter registration drive

The Richmond County Board of Elections will hold a voter registration drive today from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Top Notch Car Wash, at Kissingbower and White roads.

The drive is being sponsored by Charmante Salon.

Donation bins erected for school supplies

The Aiken County Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism will have a school-supply drive Monday through July 27 to benefit children of low-income families.

The department will have donation bins at the following locations: Aiken County Recreation Center, U.S. Highway 1, Graniteville; Harrison-Caver Park, South Carolina Highway 421, Clearwater; Aiken Wal-Mart; Kroger, University Parkway and Silver Bluff Road locations; Aiken Regional Medical Center; SRP Federal Credit Union; and Heritage South Federal Credit Union.

For more information, call 663-6142.

Officials arrest man on burglary charges

An Augusta man was being held at the Richmond County jail Friday on $10,050 bond, charged with burglary of a business last month.

Joseph T. Hodges is accused in the June 25 burglary at Barracks on Walton Way, according to a Richmond County Sheriff's Office report. The owner of Barracks reported the crime, saying that someone entered the business by forcing open a window with a hammer, the report states.

The burglars took $750 from the office, a big-screen projector and two televisions. Mr. Hodges was arrested at 2:26 a.m. at the law enforcement center and was charged with felony burglary, the report states.

Mr. Hodges also faces charges in a recent burglary at the Red Lion Pub on Walton Way. He is accused of taking a safe and damaging several coin-operated machines.

Man charged with hitting deputy in leg

Police arrested an Augusta man Friday on charges he hit a sheriff's deputy.

Marty D. Wilkes was questioned by officers at about 2 a.m. on Thomas Lane for suspicious activity, according to a Richmond County Sheriff's Office report. When deputies patted Mr. Wilkes down, he became aggressive and punched a deputy in the leg, the report states.

The report states Mr. Wilkes was sprayed with pepper spray and subdued. He was taken to University Hospital but refused treatment, the report states.

Mr. Wilkes was charged with felony obstruction of a law enforcement officer and was being held on $5,050 bond, jail officials said.