Originally created 10/18/06

Across the region



Defense says inmate's testimony is unreliable

ATLANTA - The testimony of an inmate who says Brian Nichols, who is accused of a courthouse shooting, plotted an escape from jail with him after the shooting rampage is so unreliable that, if allowed, it could cause any conviction against Mr. Nichols to be thrown out, a defense lawyer argued Tuesday.

"What we're dealing with here is a witness that could completely derail the fairness of this trial," defense lawyer Henderson Hill told Superior Court Judge Hilton Fuller.

Mr. Nichols was being retried on rape charges when, according to prosecutors, he stole a deputy's handgun at the Fulton County Courthouse then fatally shot the presiding judge, a court reporter and a sheriff's deputy. He's also accused of killing a federal agent he encountered at a home north of downtown Atlanta.

Mr. Nichols has pleaded not guilty.

Court won't reconsider man's murder conviction

ATLANTA - A federal judge rejected on Tuesday a request by convicted killer Wayne Williams to reconsider the court's denial of his challenge of his incarceration based on evidence his lawyers say points to another person who might have committed the crimes for which Mr. Williams was accused.

U.S. District Judge Beverly Martin said Mr. Williams hasn't shown any new evidence that would suggest someone else committed the two murders for which he was convicted and the other 22 in which he was accused but never charged.

Between 1979 and 1981, 29 black boys and young men were killed in the Atlanta area, spreading fear throughout the region.

Chris Rock's mom sues restaurant over wait

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Rose Rock, the mother of comedian Chris Rock, said Tuesday that she will sue Cracker Barrel after she was seated but ignored for more than a half-hour at one of the chain's restaurants along the South Carolina coast.

Ms. Rock, who lives in Georgetown, said she and her 21-year-old daughter were the only blacks at the chain's Murrells Inlet restaurant in April. She said she asked the manager about the delay and was told she and her daughter could have a free meal.

Suspect in custody after missing girl is found

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. - A pregnant 14-year-old girl who was reported abducted from her home Tuesday was found at a nearby apartment, and a suspect was in custody, authorities said.

An Amber Alert was issued when police said Patricia Figueroa, who is five months pregnant, was forcibly taken from her North Charleston home wearing only a towel.

Jerson Lopez, 20, was taken into custody at the apartment about 10 miles from the teenager's home, police said.

Police say concert-goer used officer's Taser

CHARLESTON - A man was arrested at a concert for resisting arrest in an incident in which he turned a Taser on a police officer, authorities said.

Officers at a Widespread Panic concert Friday tried to arrest the man after another man reported he had been assaulted. An officer ordered the suspect outside, but he refused. When the officer returned with a colleague, the man punched the first officer in the head, according to a police report.

The other officer then used a Taser on the attacker, but the man kicked him and they wrestled to the ground. During the struggle, the man managed to use the weapon on the officer, according to the report.

Thomas Carpenter Neal, 19, of Columbus, Ga., was charged with two counts of assault on a police officer and one count of resisting arrest, police said.

City's public buildings may soon be smoke-free

GREENVILLE, S.C. - Greenville has joined other South Carolina cities considering a ban on smoking in all restaurants, bars and other public buildings.

The ordinance would fine anyone caught smoking in a prohibited area $50. Business owners allowing smoking could be fined $100 on the first offense and $200 on subsequent violations.

The Columbia City Council is scheduled to take a vote on the smoking ban this week.

- Edited from wire reports