Originally created 03/29/03

Across the area



Cocaine is cited in man's death

The cause of death for a 27-year-old man who was arrested Feb. 15 has been ruled acute cocaine toxicity, Mike Seigler, of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, announced Friday. Grovetown police say the man ingested cocaine before his arrest.

Mr. Seigler said the GBI's state medical examiner's office made the determination after examining the body of Eric Elbert Rolland. Mr. Seigler said that, once his office receives a report on the examination, the findings of his department's investigation will be turned over to the district attorney's office.

Grovetown Department of Public Safety officials say they were tipped off Feb. 15 to a drug transaction involving Mr. Rolland. Grovetown officials say Mr. Rolland attempted to flee but was caught and arrested. Officers said that they later saw Mr. Rolland become agitated, and that he told a jailer he had swallowed cocaine. He died at Doctors Hospital, said Columbia County Deputy Coroner Vernon Collins.

319th families plan gifts for reservists

Families of the 319th Transportation Company, which is in Iraq, will send care packages to the local Army Reserve unit and allow the community to participate.

The support group will collect items next week. Any items forbidden by Islam should be avoided, such as pork and pork products, pornography, alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and narcotics. The U.S. Postal Service Web site at www.usps.com offers a list of items that should not be sent to a Middle Eastern country.

Sgt. Kathleen Taylor at the Wrightsboro Road reserve center said soldiers have said they need bottled water, moistened hand wipes and any products for skin cleansing and personal hygiene, writing utensils, candy, snacks, canned meats and telephone calling cards.

The items will be shipped April 5.

Anyone interested in shipping something to the unit can contact Sgt. Taylor at 481-1563 or stop by the Roy W. Miller Army Reserve Center at 3311 Wrightsboro Road.

Repair work will close lane of King Boulevard

The northbound lane of the 1700 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard will be closed from 8 a.m. Monday through 5 p.m. Tuesday as workers repair a cave-in.

The southbound lane will remain open as flagmen control traffic, an Augusta Public Works and Engineering Department news release states. Motorists are asked to use Old Savannah Road to avoid the site.

Man makes plea deal after stealing police car

A man accused of escaping custody by stealing a sheriff's patrol car pleaded guilty to reduced charges Friday.

Robert W. Cason III, 20, was arrested at 2 a.m. Aug. 7 during a traffic stop, when Richmond County sheriff's Deputy Jason Youngblood discovered a warrant for Mr. Cason's arrest on charges of violating probation conditions. Mr. Cason was on probation for aggravated assault and sexual battery on a 12-year-old.

After Deputy Youngblood placed Mr. Cason in handcuffs in the back of his cruiser, Mr. Cason broke through the screen separating the front and back seats and drove away in the vehicle. The officer suffered a broken hand when the car hit him. Mr. Cason crashed the car and ran. He was arrested about eight hours later.

On Friday, Mr. Cason - who is now serving 10 years in prison because his initial probation sentence was revoked - pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to theft, attempted escape and making terroristic threats.

Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet sentenced Mr. Cason to serve five years in prison, a sentence that runs concurrently with the 10 years Mr. Cason is already serving.

Road construction closes three streets

Three Columbia County roads will be closed for part of this week.

Winfield Hills Road will be closed Monday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Columbia County Roads and Bridges Department will replace the existing storm drain at 7604 Winfield Hills Road.

Also beginning Monday, drivers will need to avoid Evans to Locks Road from Washington Road to North Belair Road, and the outside westbound lane on Washington Road from North Belair Road to Evans to Locks Road.

The temporary closure will allow workers to pave the north side of Washington Road and reconstruct the roads at Evans to Locks and Washington.

The project is expected to begin at 8 a.m. Monday and be completed by 5 p.m. Friday.

That portion of Evans to Locks Road is expected to remain closed to all traffic during the work.

The westbound lane on Washington Road will be closed from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

State court lets teen's murder conviction stand

The Georgia Supreme Court upheld the murder conviction Friday of a young man who was a teenager when he killed a man.

The justices ruled that Quincy L. Murray, 24, received a fair trial in Richmond County Superior Court when he was convicted of murder and weapon charges for the Sept. 9, 1994, slaying of Willie Mathis Freeman.

The body of the 21-year-old victim was found behind a house on Lockhart Lane. He had been shot in the head and suffered several deep cuts on his face. At the time, Mr. Murray was 15 years old. He told police he shot Mr. Freeman over a $30 debt and cut him to ensure he was dead.

Plywood causes wreck after falling from semi

A Martinez man crashed into falling plywood Friday morning.

Lucas Reid, 36, drove into the loose plywood that fell from a flatbed tractor-trailer traveling east on Interstate 20, near mile marker 194, at about 5 a.m.

The nature of Mr. Reid's injuries is unknown, but he was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital and was listed in good condition, according to a hospital spokesman.

About 80 sheets of plywood fell from the truck, which did not stop after the spill and wreck, according to Columbia County Sheriff's Office Capt. Steve Morris.

Authorities say the driver of the rig might be unaware that he lost a portion of his load.

Capt. Morris said the accident closed a lane of traffic on the interstate for nearly two hours.

Police say the truck might have originated from Joanna, S.C., but they are continuing to investigate.

Absentees can vote on city redistricting

Eligible city voters can cast absentee ballots for the Tuesday referendum on Aiken's City Council redistricting plan from 9 a.m. until noon today and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday at the Voter Registration and Elections Office, 916 Vaucluse Road, Aiken.

Coroner identifies man found at SRS

The body discovered Tuesday floating in the Savannah River within the gates of SRS was identified Friday as Joshua Michael Bowers, according to the Barnwell County Coroner.

Mr. Bowers, 26, of Dorchester County, S.C., was last seen Feb. 24 at the 13th Street Bridge that connects Augusta and North Augusta, a news release states.

Mr. Bowers' clothes were found on the bridge, but authorities didn't say how he entered the water or how he died. Wackenhut Security at the Savannah River Site discovered the body while patrolling the river near the Barnwell-Allendale county line.

Barnwell County Coroner Lloyd B. Ward said Tuesday that Mr. Bowers' body was partially decomposed. An autopsy has been performed, but the cause of death still isn't known, the release states.

Last event in Aiken's Triple Crown is today

The final event of the Aiken Triple Crown will be held today at the McGhees' Mile track in Aiken.

Gates open at 10 a.m. for the Aiken Harness Races, and post time for the first of seven races will be 1 p.m.

Tickets at the gate will cost $10 for adults and $6 for children. General admission parking costs $2.

The races feature pacers and trotters towing their jockeys on stripped-down racing buggies.

Fort Discovery offers summer extravaganza

The National Science Center's Fort Discovery will hold Summer Extravaganza from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday in the Knox Gallery at Fort Discovery, Reynolds Street.

Admission is free. For more information, call 821-0646.

Suitcase shuts Ninth Street

A suitcase with a shoe and some clothes inside was all it took to shut down an Augusta city street Friday night.

The "suspicious" object was reported to police by a woman passing by shortly before 8 p.m. It had been left on the sidewalk next to a tree on Ninth Street about 30 feet away from the intersection of Ninth and Broad streets.

Police and two fire trucks quickly responded, and Ninth Street was blocked off between Reynolds and Broad streets for about two hours. A bomb squad in an armored vehicle was brought in. So was an X-ray machine.

After the X-rays were performed, a bomb squad member opened the suitcase and pulled out a lone shoe and some clothes.

Retired businessman receives Scout award

Retired business owner Bernie Silverstein received the Good Scout Award on Friday from the Georgia-Carolina Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

"Scouting has been a major part of my life," Mr. Silverstein said during an awards dinner at The Club House on Washington Road.

Mr. Silverstein, 71, is a longtime Boy Scouts activist and former council president. He is considered one of Augusta's committed community servants, former state Sen. Charles Walker said.

About 80 people attended the event. Past winners include Vince Dooley, Sterling Sharpe, Augusta Mayor Bob Young, Pat Dye and retired Maj. Gen. Perry Smith.

Police arrest teen in armed robberies

A 16-year-old was arrested Friday on four charges of armed robbery dating back to March 5.

Michael Bernard Washington of the 1700 block of Essie McIntyre Boulevard was arrested and taken to the Regional Youth Detention Center, according to Richmond County jail records.

Two of the incidents the teen is suspected in involved pizza delivery workers being robbed at gunpoint. The first incident occurred March 5 on George Road; the other happened March 8 on Wrightsboro Road, according to sheriff's office records.

The two other incidents involved carjackings of women at gunpoint - one at CVS Pharmacy on Gordon Highway on March 12 and the second in the parking lot of Ministries World Wide on Meadowbrook Drive on March 14.