Originally created 02/19/03

Across the area



Police say man didn't register

A convicted rapist who failed to register as a sex offender was arrested Tuesday morning, police said.

Gregory Angied Whitaker, 39, was captured by his parole officer and taken to the Richmond County jail, where he was booked on charges of violating parole and failing to register.

Police say Mr. Whitaker had been missing since May 2000. He spent 13 years in prison for participating in the 1980 rape, robbery and assault of a 7-Eleven clerk in Augusta.

Columbia County sheriff's officials continue to look for sex offender Michael Leonard Johnson, 38, on charges of failing to register.

Mayor announces finalists for EMA

The names of three finalists vying to fill the city's vacant Emergency Management Agency director's position were announced Tuesday by Mayor Bob Young.

The candidates are William Brown, a bioterrorism training coordinator for the East Central Georgia Health District; Danny Prichard, a squadron superintendent for Fort Gordon's Regional Security Operations Center; and Howard Willis, the special operations chief for the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department.

All three are from the Augusta area.

Mr. Young will announce his selection for the position in two weeks.

Officials say soldier lied about being raped

Fort Gordon officials are filing charges against a soldier after she falsely accused five fellow soldiers of raping her in an Augusta hotel, a military spokeswoman said Tuesday.

An 18-year-old soldier in the 369th Signal Battalion told Fort Gordon investigators that she was raped five times Feb. 8 while at the Econo Lodge on Gordon Highway, authorities said. Police say that she had sex with the men but that she consented with at least four of them. She said she did not agree to have sex with the fifth.

"It was determined that her story was false," base spokeswoman Marla Jones said.

The soldier will be charged with false swearing, and other charges are possible, Ms. Jones said.

Appeals court awards new trial to killer

The South Carolina Court of Appeals granted a new trial Tuesday to a Bamberg County woman who is serving 35 years in prison for killing her common-law husband.

Pamela Grubbs said she acted in self-defense when she shot Clifford Smith in November 1998.

Ms. Grubbs wanted to introduce evidence of battered-woman syndrome at her trial, but a judge would not allow an expert on the syndrome to testify.

The appeals court, in a 3-0 decision, wrote that the jury needed the expert's testimony to evaluate Ms. Grubbs' state of mind. The expert was expected to testify that Ms. Grubbs' conflicting statements to police were a result of the syndrome.

The justices also reversed the conviction because the trial judge refused to allow the jury to hear instructions to convict Ms. Grubbs of voluntary manslaughter.

Best Buy ex-worker charged in card fraud

A former Best Buy employee was charged Tuesday with using customer accounts to buy himself more than $8,500 in video games and DVDs, authorities said.

Coby DeWayne Walker, 19, was charged with seven felony counts of financial transaction card fraud, Richmond County sheriff's Investigator Charlene Graham said.

Mr. Walker worked as a customer service representative at the electronics store, where police say he had access to new account numbers. Police say Mr. Walker probably had a friend who brought the items to the register and Mr. Walker used his inside information to charge customer accounts. Investigator Graham said Mr. Walker probably was selling the stolen items for cash.

At the time of his employment, Mr. Walker was serving probation for a 2001 conviction of theft by receiving stolen property.

Filing in sheriff's race will end March 25

The deadline to register to vote in the March 25 primaries for the Aiken County sheriff's election is Saturday.

The Aiken County Registration and Election Commission on Vaucluse Road will be open from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday and is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

Fire department will join tornado drill

The Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department will participate in the statewide tornado drill today between 9 and 10 a.m.

Fire crews at each fire station will sound a fire truck's sirens as an example of how the public would be notified in the event of a tornado warning by the National Weather Service.

Battle of Aiken welcomes schools

The eighth annual Battle of Aiken School Day will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at the battlefield on Cedar Branch Road in Windsor.

Children will learn how soldiers and civilians lived during the Civil War and will see a battle re-enactment.

The event is appropriate for all age groups, and public, private, church and home schools are invited to attend. For more information, call 643-8486.

MCG offers films for Black History Month

A Black History Month film festival will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday and Feb. 27 at the Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry, 15th Street and Laney-Walker Boulevard.

The festival is free and open to the public. For more information, call 721-3587 or 627-3054.

Groups offer discounts on animal adoptions

Columbia County Animal Care and Control, in cooperation with the county's Animal Control Advisory Board and the humane society, will hold adoption days from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Friday and from 8 a.m. until noon Saturday.

All pets will be available for a discounted adoption fee of $10. A family can adopt only one pet. For more information, call 541-4077.

Road-widening deal offered

A compromise to the widening of North Belair Road could be in the works.

The alternative would make a two-lane connector road across property between Industrial Park Drive and North Belair Road, along the same path outlined in a plan to four-lane North Belair.

Many residents along North Belair are opposed to widening the road to four lanes. The two-lane connector alternative could buy the county eight to 10 years before officials would have to consider widening the thoroughfare, said Ronnie Hutto - the county's preconstruction engineer.

Georgia Department of Transportation officials are studying options for easing traffic congestion in the area and should have a recommendation for the county commission in the coming weeks.

Women says someone took purses from cars

A real estate agent said her purse and that of a potential customer were taken from their cars while they looked at rental property in south Augusta.

Stephanie Reeves, of Tommy McBride Realty, said she left her purse in the car at 11:15 a.m. while opening the door to a house on Lincolnton Parkway. The customer, Donna Samuels, left her purse in an unlocked car, according to a Richmond County Sheriff's Office report.

The thief took more than $1,425 worth of the women's belongings, including credit cards, jewelry and Ms. Reeves' real estate license, the report states. Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to call the sheriff's office at 821-1080.

Waffle House worker reports money stolen

Police are investigating the theft of more than $600 from a restaurant on Gordon Highway.

Travalus N. Lawson, of Waffle House, told authorities that someone took the money from the company safe located in the manager's office, according to a sheriff's office report. There was no forced entry into the office, but the locks on the door and the safe had been cut, the report states.

Lawmakers says calls aren't from his camp

Two or more people are making telephone calls in which they say they are taking a poll for Rep. Roland Smith, authorities said Tuesday.

In the calls, two or more men ask people how they will vote on a cigarette tax increase, Mr. Smith said.

"These calls are indeed bogus, misleading and a total fabrication," the South Carolina legislator said.

The calls are being made within the city of Aiken and possibly throughout South Carolina, he said.