Originally created 02/11/03

Across the area



Men are arrested in car break-ins

Two 18-year-old Augusta men were in the Columbia County Detention Center on Monday, charged with a series of car break-ins.

Jeremy Ray Rose, of the 4000 block of Union Grove Circle, and Stephen Black, of the 1000 block of Woods Edge, have been connected to at least 16 cases in Columbia County, sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said. They were being held on bonds of $21,000 each.

Capt. Morris said the two men were arrested Sunday after deputies stepped up patrols in Martinez and Evans because of increased burglaries.

Deputies had seized more than $10,000 in electronics, mainly car audio equipment, in connection with the arrests. Capt. Morris said more arrests are expected, and Richmond County investigators also are checking to see whether any cases might be connected to the suspects.

Police seek suspect in apartment shooting

Wanted posters were handed out Monday for an Augusta teenager sought in a weekend shooting at Glenn Hills Circle.

Travis Lorenzo Berrian, 18, is wanted on a charge of criminal damage to property first-degree. He is accused of firing a rifle at a man's car and apartment Sunday afternoon.

Police say a shot struck another apartment, where a woman and her 4-year-old daughter were sleeping, Sgt. Scott Peebles said. No one was injured.

Police discovered a stash of weapons in a vehicle at Mr. Berrian's Glenn Hills Drive residence, including a .32-caliber semi-automatic handgun, a .32-caliber revolver, a .30-30 lever-action rifle, a .22-caliber Magnum rifle and a 12-gauge double-barrel shotgun. At least one of the guns was stolen, Sgt. Peebles said.

Anyone with information on Mr. Berrian's whereabouts is asked to call the sheriff's office at (706) 821-1080.

Blaze causes damage to home in Martinez

A house fire ignited in a Martinez home while the owners were away.

Martinez Fire Department engines responded to the 4000 block of Bohler Avenue just after 1:30 p.m. Monday and found smoke coming from the home, said Honey Shore, the fire department spokeswoman. Firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze. The home is owned by Patrick Dugan and his wife, who were not at home when the fire broke out, authorities said.

The residence had considerable heat and smoke damage, Mrs. Shore said.

Officials suspect the fire began near the base of the stairwell, but the cause is under investigation, Mrs. Shore said.

Installation of drain will close intersection

Eleventh Street at Laney-Walker Boulevard will be closed from 9 a.m. today through Thursday as workers install a storm drain.

Motorists are asked to use 12th Street or 10th Street as a detour, an Augusta Public Works and Engineering Department news release states.

Authorities link teen to a 10th burglary

A teenager linked to a three-month rash of burglaries in south Augusta was linked Monday to a 10th burglary in that area, authorities said.

Dantron Antonio Barrett, 18, was charged Monday with burglary in connection with the Dec. 30 break-in of a home on the 2900 block of Lander Court, police said. The victim told police that a man tried to kick in the door but ran when he discovered someone inside.

Mr. Barrett is one of four people who have been linked to 10 burglaries between November and January, police said.

Supreme Court affirms conviction for murder

The Georgia Supreme Court has affirmed the murder conviction of a young Augusta man who was 16 years old when he killed a mother of two who owed a $10 cocaine debt.

In an opinion released Monday, the state's highest court rejected legal arguments that Javari Brown was entitled to a new trial in Richmond County Superior Court.

Mr. Brown and Antonio S. Johnson were convicted of the April 30, 1995, slaying of 25-year-old Tara Wimberly. Mr. Brown was also convicted of aggravated assault for shooting and wounding the victim's husband that night at the couple's Goldfinch Drive home.

Lawyer is disbarred by state's high court

ATLANTA -The Georgia Supreme Court has disbarred lawyer Luther McDaniel of Martinez for "multiple disciplinary violations, including commingling client funds with his own and failing to respond to the disciplinary authorities."

Mr. McDaniel was accused last August of giving a check for $1,229 to client Latricia Jones "knowing it would not be honored" by Georgia Bank and Trust, according to a warrant. He was arrested at his home by authorities from Columbia and Richmond counties.

Warrenville man dies in one-car accident

A Warrenville man died in a one-car accident on a secondary road just east of Aiken, officials said Monday.

The wreck occurred at about 8 p.m. Sunday, according to Lance Cpl. Dwight Green of the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

Ovadil Valladares, 36, of Pluto Lane in Warrenville, was a passenger in a 1999 Isuzu sport utility vehicle driven by Jose A. Lopez, 26, of Raleigh, N.C., which crashed while headed east on secondary road 258,, Aiken County Deputy Coroner Tim Carlton said.

Mr. Lopez was speeding when he lost control and struck a tree, the lance corporal said.

Mr. Valladares died at the scene from multiple injuries, Mr. Carlton said.

82-year-old man dies in Johnston house fire

An 82-year-old Johnston man died in a house fire Sunday.

Edgefield County Coroner Thurmond Burnett said an electrical or kerosene heater sparked the blaze that killed Eddie Lee Benjamin.

The man lived by himself in the home in the 200 block of Walker Street, the coroner said.

Mr. Benjamin died at 3:40 p.m. from smoke inhalation and burns. The death has been ruled accidental, Mr. Burnett said.

7 men rape woman during home invasion

A 19-year-old Augusta woman reported to police Monday that she was raped in her home while a group of men held her down.

The woman said the incident occurred at about 3 p.m. Thursday when seven men entered her house, located near the intersection of Gordon Highway and Peach Orchard Road, through an unsecured back door, a Richmond County Sheriff's Office report states.

The woman told police the men chased her to a bedroom. She said that six of the men held her down while one man sodomized her, took her clothes off and then raped her twice during a 40-minute span, the report states. At the time, the woman's grandmother was at home, but she did not hear her granddaughter's screams.