Originally created 12/02/05

Across the area



Dementia victim lost for 12 hours

An Augusta woman who disappeared after she left her husband's hospital room early Thursday morning has been found.

Joanne Shapiro Berman was found Thursday in Walterboro, S.C., more than 12 hours after she was escorted to her 2002 Jaguar ST by security at University Hospital.

Her husband, Julius Berman, became concerned when his wife did not return to the hospital at 9 a.m. and called the sheriff's office. Mrs. Berman suffers from dementia, according to fliers sent out by the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

Tipsters can protect identities, police say

North Augusta authorities want the public to know they do not have to give their names if they call in tips about the man who went on a shooting spree in North Augusta last week.

North Augusta Public Safety Chief Lee Wetherington said officers are making progress in tracking down the gunman and that they have so far ruled out 14 or 15 people who had come up as suspects.

The man they are searching for killed William Powell Jr. and injured the Rev. Earl Carter and Constance Davidson on Nov. 22.

According to the chief, based on a behavioral profile of the shooter, it's believed he might have resumed his regular life in the area since last week, so residents are asked to be on the lookout.

Anyone with any information that might be pertinent to the investigation is asked is asked to call (803) 279-2121 or 911.

Man dies in wreck of car, Aiken trash truck

An Aiken man died Wednesday when his 2003 Honda Civic collided with a city of Aiken trash truck on South Carolina Highway 62 at 3:14 p.m.

The Honda Civic, driven by Sean Patrick Cheadley, 27, was traveling east when his vehicle drifted into the westbound lane of traffic, state Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. Dwight Green said.

Mr. Cheadley, who was wearing a seat belt, died at the scene, Aiken County Deputy Coroner Jeff Smith said.

Lance Cpl. Green said the cause of the accident was inattention. No charges are pending, he said.

Deputies investigate home invasion case

Richmond County sheriff's deputies are investigating an early morning home invasion in a neighborhood off Lumpkin Road, records show.

Ricky Hobbs, 39, of the 2900 block of Jefferson Street, told deputies that at 3:40 a.m., two people kicked in a door while he was in the bathroom.

Two men, dressed in ski masks and black clothing, entered and ordered him to the floor, the report states.

The men took a cellular phone, $500, and a lockbox with documents. One of the men fired a shot inside the house before they fled.

The report states that Mr. Hobbs' cell phone was recovered.

$500 reward is offered to nab brick-throwers

Richmond County sheriff's deputies are offering a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest of juveniles blamed for five separate attacks on vehicles with bricks in the Summerville neighborhood, officials said Thursday.

Maj. Ken Autry said information submitted to the department will be kept confidential.

The incidents took place in the 2800 block of Wheeler Road, near Big Oak Park. Three attacks were reported Oct. 31, one was reported Nov. 1, and another was reported Tuesday.

Victims said they noticed juveniles after the bricks were thrown, and some taunted them or acted as if they wanted the victims to get out of their vehicles.

Man arrested in theft from former employer

A North Augusta man accused of stealing more than $100,000 from his former employer was arrested by the Richmond County Sheriff's Office on Thursday.

Investigator Michael Shane McDaniel said Neil Grady Grice, 35, of the 1700 block of Gregory Lake Road, was charged with felony theft by taking.

The investigator said that while Mr. Grice served as director of operations for Walton Options for Independent Living, from summer 2004 through November, he gave himself cash advances on his payroll checks ranging from $300 to $6,000 per pay period.

Man held in beating of woman with belt

Richmond County sheriff's deputies arrested a man who is accused of beating a woman with a belt in the presence of her 6-year-old son, a police report states.

Jamarcus Emmanuel Murray, 23, of the 2200 block of Raleigh Drive, was charged with simple battery and assault.

According to the report, the incident happened at about 5:30 p.m. in the 1600 block of Floyd Street.

Tameka Monique McNair told police that Mr. Murray pushed her, punched her in the arm and her side before holding her down on a bed - with a pillow over face - and threatening to kill her.

Sentencing date set for Walker's daughter

Former Sen. Charles Walker's daughter has a sentencing date of Dec. 19 in U.S. District Court.

Monique Walker Hill faces up to one year and as much as a $100,000 fine for a single misdemeanor count of filing a false tax return for 1999.

Ms. Hill was indicted with her father in June 2004, however, she was granted a separate trial. After Mr. Walker was convicted this summer, Ms. Hill pleaded guilty to the single, reduced charge.

Mr. Walker was convicted of 127 counts of mail fraud, conspiracy and abiding and abetting the filing of a false charitable tax return. He was sentenced Tuesday to 121 months in prison.

Appeals court tosses manslaughter verdict

An Augusta man's manslaughter conviction has been vacated.

In an opinion released Wednesday, the Court of Appeals of Georgia ruled that Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet was wrong to find James D. Mitchell, 25, guilty of voluntary manslaughter at the conclusion of a bench trial last fall.

The appeals court ordered Mr. Mitchell's case returned to Richmond County Superior Court for sentencing on involuntary manslaughter, a felony punishable by a maximum 10-year prison sentence.

Judge Overstreet had sentenced Mr. Mitchell to serve eight years in prison and five on probation for the Oct. 22, 2001, death of his friend, 23-year-old Brannen Weiss.

Mr. Mitchell had injected Mr. Weiss with OxyContin at Mr. Weiss' request.

- From staff reports