Originally created 01/30/05

Across Georgia



Blind man sentenced for reckless driving

STOCKBRIDGE - A legally blind man charged with recklessly driving a golf cart had an elementary explanation for his actions: It was the dog's fault.

Samuel McClain, 35, of Stockbridge, just south of Atlanta, drove a golf cart down two miles of cart paths June 12 to get to a Mexican restaurant.

His friend, Michael Johnston, 48, of nearby Peachtree City, acted as Mr. McClain's eyes, telling him where to steer, Peachtree City police said.

The cart was parked until Foreman, Mr. McClain's seeing-eye dog, pawed the accelerator, attorney Ricky Morris said. The cart then lurched into a parked van. No one was injured.

Fayette County State Court Judge Fletcher Sams sentenced each man this week to a year's probation and $675 fines.

Ex-official finds fault in rape investigations

ATLANTA - A former Atlanta police official said a serial rapist could have been caught earlier if police had done a better job investigating.

Christopher Baker, 37, tried to blame the six victims before his sentencing, saying they were prostitutes he fleeced but didn't rape.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Alford Dempsey Jr. sentenced Mr. Baker to 10 back-to-back life sentences plus 119 years after Mr. Baker was convicted of 18 charges, including rape, kidnapping, aggravated sodomy and robbery by force.

DNA evidence also links Mr. Baker, a four-time convicted felon, to a dozen rapes in Fulton and DeKalb counties, said Prosecutor Gayle Abramson.

These are in addition to the six that spawned the convictions, she said.

State workers to face penalties over gifts

SALEM, Ore. - A dozen state transportation workers who accepted gifts from a Georgia-based cleaning chemicals company that sold products to state offices will be penalized, officials said.

The punishment will vary from a letter in their files to a temporary pay cut, said Kevin Neely, a spokesman for state Attorney General Hardy Myers.

Last month, four Oregon Transportation Department workers resigned after being accused of accepting $10,000 to $15,000 worth of gifts over seven years from the same company, Stone Cold Chemicals, based in Loganville, Ga.

A city of Augusta employee was also charged with taking kickbacks from the company.