Originally created 05/05/04

Across South Carolina

Officers will not be charged in teen's death

ANDERSON - Two police officers will not be charged with shooting and killing a 16-year-old boy last month while responding to a call about a break-in at a sporting goods store.

After reviewing a report from the State Law Enforcement Division, prosecutor Druanne White said Monday the shooting was "justified and no criminal charges were warranted."

Christopher Brandon Nash was killed April 7 after he pointed a gun at Anderson patrol officers Dusty Ashley and Susanne Mullis, according to the SLED report.

The report said the boy, wearing a ski mask and gloves, put a handgun to his head and threatened to kill himself when officers arrived, authorities said. Officers talked with Christopher for about 15 minutes, trying to convince him to put the gun down.

When he pointed the gun at the officers, each fired a shot, and one bullet hit the boy in the chest.

Budget board OKs increase for retirees

COLUMBIA - The state Budget and Control Board agreed Tuesday with a 3-2 vote to give state retirees a 1.6 percent cost of living adjustment in their checks beginning in July.

Gov. Mark Sanford, the budget board's chairman, and state Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom voted against the increase. State Treasurer Grady Patterson, Rep. Bobby Harrell and Sen. Hugh Leatherman voted for the adjustment.

Mr. Sanford and Mr. Eckstrom voted against the cost-of-living raise because it would put the state closer to what the governor describes as a financial cliff. The raise increases the number of years it would take to accumulate all the money needed to pay current and future retirees if the plan were shut down today.

State law allows the plan to have a maximum 30-year payoff and that threshold will be reached in 2006 if trends hold, Peggy Boykin, the director of the South Carolina Retirement Systems, told the board.

But state law requires the annual adjustments unless the 30-year limit is broken, Mr. Harrell said.

To "refuse to grant these, frankly, would be a violation of law," Mr. Harrell said.

A year ago, Mr. Sanford and Mr. Eckstrom voted to delay a decision on a 2.4 percent increase, saying they needed time to get "real numbers," to support granting that increase.

Mother is charged in death of her toddler

CHARLESTON - A mother and her boyfriend have been charged with killing the woman's toddler by giving him a lethal amount of an adult prescription medication.

Melissa Sue Bennett, 24, of Summerville, and Jeremy John Dye, 23, of St. Stephen remained in jail on $150,000 bond each Monday on charges of homicide by child abuse and unlawful neglect of a child, authorities said. Mr. Dye is not the child's father.

Two-year-old William Bennett died in March. Toxicology tests last week showed William had "toxic levels beyond what it would take to kill an adult" of codeine and promethazine, authorities said.

The medication found in William's blood and in his sipping cup was prescribed for Ms. Bennett, authorities said.

Appeals court orders new trial for man

COLUMBIA - The South Carolina Court of Appeals has ordered a new trial for a Richland County man sentenced to prison for murder.

Willie Earl Reese Jr., 34, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the 2001 shooting death of his estranged wife, Teresa Reese, 29.

In a 2-1 decision Monday, the court ruled that Circuit Judge G. Thomas Cooper failed to allow the jury to consider the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter. Evidence in the trial could have allowed the jury to consider the lesser offense, the appeals court said.

The judges also criticized prosecutors' closing arguments. Prosecutors asked the jury to become advocates for Ms. Reese instead of maintaining impartiality, the court said.


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