Originally created 03/31/04

Across the region



Detention officer is charged with assault

SMYRNA, GA. - A detention officer at the Smyrna jail has been charged with sexually assaulting a female inmate.

Roy Curtis Brown, 31, of Lithia Springs, is accused of having sex with the inmate March 20, authorities said. Mr. Brown was charged five days later, after the woman submitted a complaint to police. The woman, who was in jail for violating probation on charges of marijuana possession, filed the charges because she feared retaliation from him, authorities said.

House panel rejects property tax proposal

ATLANTA - A Georgia House committee on Tuesday rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that, with voter approval, would have frozen property tax valuations statewide to protect homeowners from hefty tax increases.

The measure was defeated 9-5 in the House Ways and Means Committee after speakers representing city and county governments, local school boards and other groups spoke against it.

The measure passed the Senate 47-3 last year. It would have locked in the tax value of homes at this year's level for as long as the current owner held it.

Professional boxer dies from his injuries

SAVANNAH, GA. - A professional heavyweight boxer who suffered a knockout that rendered him unconscious for two days has died.

David Rickman, of Fernandi-na Beach, Fla., took several blows to the head before falling to the canvas in the fourth round of the match Saturday night at Jarrell's Gym. He was pronounced dead Monday morning at Memorial Health University Medical Center, authorities said.

Inmate chooses to be electrocuted in April

COLUMBIA - Condemned inmate Jason Scott Byram has chosen to be electrocuted April 23, according to the state Corrections Department.

Mr. Byram, 38, was convicted of stabbing 36-year-old Julie Johnson to death as she slept on a sofa in her downtown home while her family slept upstairs.

In South Carolina, inmates can choose between lethal injection and electrocution.

Nationwide, there have been 21 executions this year - none by electrocution, said Robert Deans, a researcher with Death Penalty Information Center. The last electrocution in the United States was that of Eric Bramblett on April 9 in Virginia, he said.

Body of missing boater found six days later

GEORGETOWN, S.C. - The body of a boater who disappeared last week on the Black River has been found after a six-day search.

A Department of Natural Resources officer found Matt Johnson's body Monday not far from where he fell into the water, authorities said.

Mr. Johnson, 26, disappeared last Wednesday shortly after a neighbor saw him get in his boat and leave the dock behind his home.

A few minutes later, she saw his aluminum boat spinning in circles.

There was some damage to Mr. Johnson's boat, but authorities did not know whether the craft hit debris in the river.

House members could take Easter vacation

COLUMBIA - House members are expected to take an unpaid vacation from the session during Easter week as a cost-saving measure, Speaker David Wilkins said Tuesday.

On Thursday, the House will consider imposing a furlough April 6-8, Mr. Wilkins said.

He said it would save taxpayers about $40,000 in mileage and per diem costs that usually are paid to lawmakers.