Originally created 02/25/03

Across the area



Drug trafficker is sentenced

An Aiken man whose shootout with a gunman led police to his cocaine and marijuana dealing was sentenced Monday to three years in prison.

Donald M. Hamilton, 30, pleaded guilty to trafficking in crack cocaine and marijuana. Facing up to 20 years, he received the minimum sentence in a deal with prosecutors.

Deputies from the Aiken County Sheriff's Office said they went to Mr. Hamilton's house in the 100 block of Fields Road in August 2001 after he traded gunfire with someone who had entered his home.

Mr. Hamilton's common-law wife and his 11-year-old sister were caught in the crossfire. Mr. Hamilton and his wife escaped, and deputies eventually went inside to rescue the girl, who had hidden in a closet.

The shooter was never caught. After deputies cleared the house, they found 13 pounds of marijuana, 12 grams of cocaine and about $12,000 inside, prosecutor Everett Chandler said.

Wreck victim's family seeks blood donations

The family and friends of a woman who was injured Saturday in a head-on collision on Interstate 20 have asked for donations of blood.

Jennifer Paige Langley, 25, was driving the wrong way in the westbound lanes at about 1 a.m. when her 2002 Ford Taurus collided with a 1998 Toyota Avalon driven by William Loyal, 30, said Maj. Richard Weaver, of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

Maj. Weaver said Ms. Langley and Mr. Loyal were taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital by ambulance.

On Monday, friends and family asked for O positive and O negative donors in addition to AB positive donors, whose plasma can be used for any blood type, according to the Shepeard Community Blood Center.

Ms. Langley's condition was undetermined Monday, and Mr. Loyal was listed in fair condition, an MCG spokeswoman said.

MCG dentistry school ends search for dean

After nearly two years, the search for a new dean of the School of Dentistry at the Medical College of Georgia is over.

Connie Drisko, an associate dean and director of clinical research at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry in Kentucky, was announced Monday by the school. Pending approval of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, she would begin in May.

Dr. Drisko, a professor of periodontics, got her dental degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry. She earned a certificate in periodontics from the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Leavenworth, Kan. Her research has attracted more than $1.7 million in support from the National Institutes of Health and other sources.

Erratic driving leads to numerous charges

A North Augusta man was charged with driving under license suspension afterpolice saw him driving erratically and over the speed limit and found a 4-year-old child unrestrained in the car, officers said.

Rico Renaldo Ready, 26, was arrested at 11:22 p.m. Sunday on West Martintown Road in North Augusta. Police said Mr. Ready braked excessively to avoid running through a red light.

Police said Mr. Ready had no license on him when he was stopped by an officer.

Mr. Ready was also charged with careless driving and a child-restraint violation.

3 men arrested after search turns up drugs

Three men were in the Columbia County Detention Center on Monday after deputies arrested them on drug charges in Harlem on Saturday.

Deputies serving a search warrant at 335 N. Bell St. confiscated more than three pounds of marijuana, more than two ounces of methamphetamines and more than two ounces of cocaine, said Capt. Steve Morris, of the Columbia County Sheriff's Office. Those arrested were:

  • Gary Alex Youngblood, Jr., 23, who lives at the North Bell Street address. He was charged with trafficking cocaine, trafficking methamphetamines and possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute.
  • Quovodice Lashawn Gilbert, 32, of 570 Lamkin Road,Harlem. He was charged with possession of marijuana.
  • Terry Lee Jones, 21, who also lives at the North Bell Street address. He was charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute.
  • All three were awaiting bond Monday, Capt. Morris said.

    Jury selection begins in capital murder trial

    Jury selection began Monday in the capital murder trial of one of three men accused of robbing and killing an Evans couple.

    Jimmy Lee Rhodes has pleaded innocent in Columbia County Superior Court to two counts each of murder, burglary and armed robbery in the deaths of Fred and Yong-Suk Walker on Feb. 2, 1998. Mr. Rhodes was arrested in June 2000.

    The Walkers were found in the bedroom of their home in Country Place subdivision the day after they died. From the beginning, investigators suspected robbery as the motive. The couple owned a Kissingbower Road liquor store and a check-cashing business and often had large amounts of cash.

    Jury selection is expected to last through Friday. Mr. Rhodes' trial is scheduled to begin Monday.

    Hephzibah man faces molestation charges

    A Hephzibah man was charged with aggravated child molestation after the relative of a 14-year-old girl found them in bed Friday night, according to police.

    Mack French, 25, was seen by the girl's older cousin in bed with the girl at about 10:30 p.m., said Lt. Jack Francisco, of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

    After an argument with the girl's cousin, Mr. French ran away from the Lokey Street residence near Wrightsboro Road.

    The girl told police that no sex took place but that he fondled her.

    Woman reports items stolen from apartment

    An Augusta woman told police that someone took electronics, movies, music and games worth more than $2,000 from her apartment in the Fountainhead Condominiums.

    Samantha Lynn Moore, 21, who is due to be evicted from the apartment on Stevens Creek Road, said that when she returned home at 11 p.m. Sunday she noticed that her flat-screen television with DVD player, video games, DVDs and several CDs were missing.

    Richard Oscar Bant, with whom Ms. Moore lived, was found at his new River Creek Apartments residence with other items that had been missing earlier from the Fountainhead Condominiums apartment, including a vacuum cleaner and PlayStation console.

    Mr. Bant told police that he had borrowed the items.

    Man reports beating after argument at bar

    An Augusta man told police that he was beaten with a tire iron after an argument in the bar of the Econo Lodge motel on Gordon Highway.

    James Edward Dempsey, Jr., 32, said that an employee told him and Ralph Allen Coleman Jr. to leave the bar after they got into an argument at 11:15 p.m. Sunday. He said that they went to the parking lot and that Mr. Coleman got a tire iron from his car and hit Mr. Dempsey several times on the back.

    Police reports indicated that Mr. Dempsey refused medical treatment.

    Mr. Coleman was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol after he tried to drive away in his car, according to police.

    Lottery tickets stolen from service station

    Someone took two rolls of South Carolina lottery tickets worth $600 from a service station in North Augusta, according to police reports.

    Debbie Williford, an employee at the station in the 400 block of East Buena Vista Avenue, said the tickets were taken from the back office Saturday or Sunday.