Originally created 05/20/05

Across South Carolina



Hearings on Wilkins' ambassador post set

COLUMBIA - House Speaker David Wilkins is gearing up for the first round of confirmation hearings on his appointment to become U.S. ambassador to Canada.

The Greenville Republican said he will travel to Washington this weekend to prepare for a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee meeting Tuesday.

President Bush tapped Mr. Wilkins for the ambassador post last month after weeks of rumors that sparked a race for the speaker's chair. Four House members are vying for the position, considered to be one of the most powerful jobs in South Carolina government.

New stalking law is closer to passage

COLUMBIA - The Senate gave key approval to a bill that strengthens anti-stalking laws in South Carolina.

The measure, dubbed "Mary Lynn's Law," was given second reading on a voice vote.

Mary Lynn Witherspoon was 53 years old when she was strangled in her Charleston home in November 2003 by a man who had been sent to jail five months earlier for breaking into her laundry room.

The bill, which needs a routine third reading, would require police to give judges incident reports on stalking cases before bail is set. It also adds an aggravated stalking charge with a 10-year penalty.

Fire department must pay $5,000 over death

CENTRAL - A state occupational health agency has fined Southern Wesleyan University and the Anderson Fire Department after an investigation into a university employee's death last month.

The fire department was fined $5,000 for sending a worker into a sinkhole to rescue David John Summey without testing the air in the sinkhole.

Investigators say the 35-year-old maintenance worker fell into the 25-foot-deep hole and apparently suffocated within minutes from a lack of oxygen.

43-year-old admits showing pornography

COLUMBIA - A 43-year-old Camden man has pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, the state attorney general said Thursday.

Gary Stephen Estep pleaded guilty to showing, receiving or soliciting material that shows a minor engaged in sexual activity, the attorney general's office said. Mr. Estep admitted to running a file server filled with pornography on the Internet, authorities said.