Originally created 08/08/06

Across the area



Couple punished for beating child

A couple accused of covering the backside of a second-grader with bruises pleaded guilty Monday and received probation sentences.

Scott E. Hodge, 35, and Loretta B. Fernandez Hodge, 31, pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to cruelty to children in the second degree. They admitted using a wooden spoon and leather belt to discipline Mrs. Hodge's son May 18, 2005.

Assistant District Attorney Johnny Markwalter said the child's school personnel got the boy medical help after he came to school the next day with bruising on his back, buttocks and legs. Declaring their remorse, the Hodges told the judge Monday that Richmond County Juvenile Court Judge Herbert Kernanghan returned custody to them in September after they completed parenting classes and counseling sessions.

Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet imposed 4-year probated sentences with a $1,000 fine.

Columbia County to extend boat ramps

The Columbia County Commission agreed Monday morning to have six boat ramps at Wildwood Park extended in light of a lower lake level from statewide drought conditions.

Mark Chostner, the county's facilities manager, said the boat ramps will be extended 40 feet to reach a Thurmond Lake level of 316 feet at a cost of $208,000.

He said that work will begin immediately and that the county will try to have the ramp extensions completed in 56 days.

A quick completion date, he said, is the goal as county officials would like to have the ramps extended in time for upcoming bass fishing tournaments in the next couple months.

Thurmond Lake's level Monday was 325.21.

11-year-old Aiken girl is sexually assaulted

Aiken County authorities are investigating the sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl during the weekend.

The girl said a 38-year-old neighbor was walking her to her Batesburg home through the woods connecting his house with hers at about 7 p.m. Saturday, states a report from the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.

He pulled her off the trail, put a knife to her throat, gestured as though he were going to slap her before pulling off her pants and raping her, according to the report.

He then walked her to her house, told her he "still loved her" and told her not to tell anyone what happened, the report states.

Goats slain behind Aiken man's home

A 77-year-old Aiken man told police Saturday that someone shot and killed two of his goats.

Wendell Byrd, of the 600 block of Montmorenci Road, reported to the Aiken County Sheriff's Office that his sister-in-law heard gunshots behind his field.

When he checked on his goats, he found two dead from gunshot wounds.

Man, 20, is charged with sex with girl, 10

A 20-year-old Langley man was arrested during the weekend and charged with sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl.

Blake Morris Bratcher, of the 100 block of Ralph Greene Drive, was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and lewd act on a minor.

Arrest warrants from the Aiken County Sheriff's Office state that between July 24 and July 28, Mr. Bratcher fondled the girl and performed oral sex on her.

SRS lab proves it can cope in emergencies

A Savannah River Site laboratory with expertise in chemical analysis has joined a national short list of labs capable of responding to national emergencies.

The SRS Environmental Bioassay Laboratory was the only facility that met every category in the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Radiochemistry Intercomparison Program, said lab manager Darlene Murdoch.

Six labs in the U.S. and Canada participated in recent screenings in which water and urine samples had to be analyzed for certain materials within an eight-hour window.

Aiken County to get block grant funding

U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint, both R-S.C., announced that Aiken County will receive $220,161 in Community Development Block Grant funding.

The grant is part of $8.1 million in housing grants for South Carolina awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Juveniles arrested in pawnshop break-in

Police said they arrested two teenagers early Monday while they were trying to break into a south Augusta pawnshop.

At about 5:30 a.m., a deputy saw two juveniles on top of A-Awesome Pawn Shop, 22811 Tobacco Road, trying to get in through the roof, said Richmond County Investigator Horace Anderson.

The 16-year-old boys were arrested and charged with criminal attempt at burglary, he said. They were being held at the Augusta Regional Youth Detention Center.

Investigator Anderson said they also are suspects in two similar burglaries: a July 30 break-in at A-Awesome Pawn Shop, and an Aug. 3 incident at AAA Gun & Pawn Brokers, 2760 Tobacco Road.

Man charged with sex battery of child

A Waynesboro man was arrested on charges of child molestation and sexual battery Sunday, according to Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Gary Nicholson.

Roger Spencer, 48, of 141 Zerbee Lane, is being held in the Burke County jail on charges of engaging in sexual acts with a 6-year-old girl, according to a Burke County sheriff's incident report.

According to the report, an adult called deputies after the girl told her that she had been assaulted.

Man gets 26 stitches in nose after attack

Police are looking for a man in connection with a knife attack early Monday.

Lakendria Heggs, 29, of Belgrade Court in Barton Village, told police he was cut on the nose and left shoulder at about 4 a.m. by a knife-wielding assailant as he walked on London Boulevard.

Mr. Heggs was treated at Medical College of Georgia Hospital, where he received 26 stitches in his nose, Richmond County Investigator Earnest Furgeison said.

- From staff reports