Originally created 10/13/03

Across South Carolina

Charleston fights vandalism of meters

CHARLESTON -Parking meter authorities in America's most mannered city say their patience is about to expire.

Vandals continue to use strung-out paper clips, dimes wrapped in scraps of paper, nails and even losing lottery tickets to vandalize meters around downtown, eating up nearly half of the city's $1.1 million in parking meter revenues.

Police blame College of Charleston students because meter vandalism drops 25 percent during the summer.

So far this year, 12,180 damaged meter reports have been called in to the city. Nearly 60 percent, or 7,264 of the meters, needed to be repaired because they were vandalized, not because of normal wear and tear.

Police cite training in meth-lab arrests

SUMMERVILLE -Authorities say better training is helping to catch more methamphetamine labs across South Carolina.

Manufacturers of the powerful stimulant "cook" their product in homes, vehicles, boats or makeshift kitchens set up in rural wooded areas.

Officers might have overlooked meth labs in the past because many ingredients for the drug - acetone, drain cleaner and lithium extracted from rechargeable batteries - can be purchased at the neighborhood drugstore. Lab seizures have increased statewide to 130 in fiscal year 2002-03, up from 25 in two years. The DEA spent about $300,000 in South Carolina this year on cleanup.

Error by prosecutor ends murder trial

GREENVILLE -A Travelers Rest man charged with murder has a chance to go free after a Circuit Court judge declared a mistrial based on misconduct by the prosecutor.

Jack Edward Earl Parker, 32, cannot be retried for murder in the 2001 death of Robert Lee Stewart unless it is successfully appealed, attorneys say.

"The result of this ruling in this manner is that the defendant will go free," prosecutor Bob Ariail said.

During the weeklong trial, prosecutors argued that Mr. Parker shot Mr. Stewart in the chest and back as many as 14 times.

Mr. Parker's attorney, Robbie Childs, argued that the shooting was self-defense.

Mr. Childs asked Circuit Judge J. Mark Hayes to end the case in a mistrial after assistant prosecutor Mindy Hervey accused Mr. Parker's attorney in closing arguments of coaching witnesses. After the jury twice told the court that it was hopelessly deadlocked, Judge Hayes declared a mistrial based on prosecutorial misconduct.


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