Originally created 03/08/06

Across the area



Yard burning is focus of inquiry

State fire officials said Tuesday they suspect burning debris might have caused a deadly home fire Monday that killed a McDuffie County man.

The state fire marshal's office is still investigating the house fire that killed Douglas M. Johnson, 63, in the 300 block of County Line Road, but state fire officials believe Mr. Johnson burning yard debris on a windy day might have started the fire, said Wayne Whitaker, a spokesman for the state Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner's office.

McDuffie and Columbia County firefighters responded to the home on the Columbia-McDuffie county line just after 3 p.m. Monday finding Mr. Johnson on the ground just outside the back of the home, which was engulfed in flames and smoke.

Neighbors reported Mr. Johnson burning debris earlier in the day and it appears, from what firefighters found on the scene, he was likely burning more than one pile at the same time, McDuffie County Fire Service Assistant Chief Stephen Sewell said.

The body was sent to the state crime lab for an autopsy Tuesday, McDuffie County Coroner Rhusha Mack said.

Two teens are caught with drugs, guns

Police have arrested two teenagers who were caught with guns and drugs in a parking lot at Glenn Hills High School on Monday, officials said.

Alvin Lee Haynes Jr., 17, of the 1300 block of Dewitt Street, and Kenneth Reed Jr., 18, of the 1000 block of Kent Street, were charged with possession of a weapon on school property, possession of cocaine and possession of marijuana. Neither one is a student at any Richmond County school.

Richmond County Sheriff's Investigator Blaise Dresser said police spotted Mr. Haynes driving around the school's teacher's lot at about 11 a.m. Monday. Mr. Reed was in the passenger seat of the Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

When they pulled them over, officers noticed a magazine for a handgun on the 17-year-old. After further searching, they also found about a gram of crack cocaine, two grams of marijuana and two loaded guns inside Mr. Haynes' car, according to Investigator Dresser.

Bicyclist hit by truck in good condition

A Grovetown teen hit by a pickup while riding his bicycle on Old Evans Road on Monday was listed in good condition Tuesday at Medical College of Georgia Hospital, said Danielle Wong Moores, a hospital spokeswoman.

Joshua Christopher Josey, 16, of Chum Court in Grovetown, was airlifted to MCG after police said he pulled in front of a truck driven by Jeremy Charles Hughes, of Walton Way Extension in Augusta.

Columbia County sheriff's Deputy Steven Leathers said Joshua was riding his bicycle just after 5:30 p.m. north along Old Evans Road at Sydney Street. Deputy Leathers said Joshua crossed the heavily traveled road into the southbound path of Mr. Hughes' truck.

Deputy Leathers said no charges will be filed against Mr. Hughes.

Police search for man accused of rape

Aiken police are looking for a 24-year-old man accused of raping a woman Feb. 26, police said.

Jimmy O'Neal Weaver, of the 100 block of Greg Street in Graniteville, faces charges of criminal sexual conduct and kidnapping.

A 26-year-old Aiken woman told police that Mr. Weaver raped her at a home on Brown Lane after an argument escalated physically, according to a report filed with the Aiken Department of Public Safety.

Mr. Weaver is described as being 6 feet tall and weighing 200 pounds. Anyone with information about his location is asked to call police at (803) 642-7620.

Man receives 5 years in prison for battery

An Augusta man accused of fondling a teenager pleaded guilty Tuesday.

Andres Lopez, 32, received a five-year prison sentence for a charge of aggravated sexual battery on a 15-year-old girl, Assistant District Attorney Tom Peterson said.

Mr. Lopez had been scheduled to stand trial in Richmond County Superior Court but opted to plead guilty to the September 2004 assault instead. Judge Duncan D. Wheale imposed the maximum sentence possible, Mr. Peterson said.

Girl says 3 boys at school fondled her

A 15-year-old Aiken girl told police on Monday that she was fondled at Schofield Middle School, a police report states.

According to a report filed with the Aiken Department of Public Safety, the girl said that she was walking in the hallway after lunch when someone touched her between her legs from behind.

She turned around and saw three boys, the report states, and was able to point two of them out to police.

The matter is under investigation, said Sgt. David Turno, spokesman for the agency.

Couple is charged with child cruelty

A Beech Island couple was arrested by Aiken County authorities Monday and charged with cruelty to children, according to police.

Micheal Bailey, 37, and his wife, Shannon Bailey, 36, both of the 3100 block of Silver Bluff Road, were both booked into the Aiken County Detention Center on a single charge each of cruelty to children.

According to arrest warrants from the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, the couple hit their son with a belt leaving bruises last January.

Commission approves aesthetic standards

Columbia County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday night in favor of new aesthetic standards for new commercial construction along South Belair Road and part of North Belair Road.

The new requirements do not allow metal exterior paneling or overhead loading doors on the front of commercial buildings. Flat roofs on town homes and apartments also are not allowed. The district, which is a 3.5 mile stretch, includes South Belair from the Richmond County line to Columbia Road and North Belair from Columbia Road to Owens Road. The standards don't apply to home construction.

Man charged with performing lewd act

A 51-year-old Jackson man was arrested Monday and charged with performing a lewd act upon a child younger than 16, police records show.

Larry Lynn Brown, of the 100 block of Casisa Drive, was booked into the Aiken County Detention Center.

According to an arrest warrant from the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, Mr. Brown performed a sex act on a 15-year-old girl at his home and had her fondle him Jan. 18.

Officials investigate blaze at high school

Fire officials are trying to determine what caused a Tuesday blaze that destroyed a portable unit at Butler High School on Lumpkin Road.

Augusta-Richmond County Fire Lt. G.B. Hannan, an investigator with the agency, said there is no evidence the 3 a.m. fire was intentional but that he is interviewing school officials and students to rule on the cause.

16-year-old arrested in molestation of girl

Police arrested a 16-year-old Augusta boy late Monday after he was accused of molesting a 7-year-old female relative during the summer, according to officials.

Isaac Singleton, of the 500 block of Martin Lane, was charged with aggravated child molestation and booked in the Richmond County jail.

Man says he was shot, robbed at hotel

A 25-year-old Augusta man told police he was robbed and shot several times early Tuesday while at Adams Super Inn on the 1600 block of Gordon Highway.

According to a Richmond County sheriff's incident report, Frankie Grace said two masked men entered the room at about 1 a.m. and demanded money.

The robbers then took $60 from Mr. Grace and shot him three times - in the lower left side of his back, on the right hip and left leg - according to the report.

- From staff reports