Across the area

Planning commission vote halts rezoning

A deadlocked vote Thursday by the Columbia County Planning Commission halted the rezoning of land that once housed a fire station.

Commissioners voted 2-2 on rezoning about a half acre at 2733 Louisville Road from special use to a residential/agricultural zoning.

The land is now being used as a home and possibly a garage, officials and a neighbor said.

John West, a lawyer for the landowner, said the resident just likes to "tinker" with cars. Commissioners Dean Thompson and Jim Cox said the zoning shouldn't change until residents comply with the current zoning.

Also at the meeting, commissioners approved the final plat for Marshall Office Park, a new complex on Industrial Boulevard with four lots, with one already designated for a dialysis company.

New Ellenton worker indicted in mail theft

A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted a New Ellenton postal worker accused of stealing mail.

Denise Larae Key, 43, was indicted on one count of mail theft, a federal crime. According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Columbia, postal authorities received complaints from customers in the New Ellenton area that their mail had been opened and that cash and gift cards were missing.

The case was investigated by the Inspector General's Office and turned over to the U.S. Attorney's Office in December. If convicted, the maximum penalty Ms. Key could receive is a $250,000 fine and five years in prison.

Traffic report

- Motorists in the 600 and 700 blocks of Broad Street are asked to take extra caution today as horse-drawn carriages take patrons to a showing of Gone With the Wind at the Imperial Theatre. The carriages will arrive between 5 and 7 p.m., according to a Richmond County Engineering Department news release.

Roommate arrested in sexual assault

Police arrested a man Wednesday who is accused of sexually assaulting his roommate at an Augusta care home.

Usher Brown Jr., 32, is charged with sodomy, said Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Scott Peebles. Mr. Brown is accused of assaulting his 65-year-old roommate, an amputee, at Hope's Personal Care Home at 1720 Wrightsboro Road, Lt. Peebles said.

A similar incident occurred in December but was handled internally at the victim's request, according to Lt. Peebles.

Police plan to charge men with wire theft

Two North Augusta men will be charged in the theft of copper wiring from two Aiken County businesses earlier this week.

Adrian M. Smith, 23, and Walter M. Jones, 19, will be charged with breaking and entering and grand larceny, the Aiken County Sheriff's Office says.

Mr. Smith was arrested in Augusta on Tuesday and remained there Thursday on a probation violation.

Between Sunday and Tuesday, $20,000 in copper wire was stolen from Aiken Electric Cooperative and $10,000 in wiring was taken from Graves Environmental and Geotechnical Services, police say.

Police are still seeking Mr. Jones. Anyone with information leading to his whereabouts is asked to contact the Aiken County Sheriff's Office at (800) 922-9709 or Crimestoppers of the Midlands at (888) 559-TIPS.

Man to serve nearly 28 years in robberies

A young Augusta man was sentenced to nearly 28 years in prison Thursday in a string of armed robberies.

Because it is a federal sentence, Terry Carter Jr., 22, will serve 27 years and six months without the possibility of parole. Once released, he will be supervised for five years. He also must pay $9,500 in restitution.

Mr. Carter pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to the robbery charges and an escape charge. He was accused of holding up four Eckerd pharmacies, a CVS store, a Food Lion and a Burlington Coat Factory in late 2005 and early 2006.

Driver gets 5 years in deadly DUI crash

A 42-year-old Augusta man was sentenced to five years in prison Thursday for a wreck in which a Hephzibah man died and his wife was seriously hurt.

Glenn E. Bostic was also sentenced to 10 years on probation by Richmond County Superior Court Judge Michael N. Annis.

Mr. Bostic's blood-alcohol level was 0.124 after the March 18 crash on Story Mill Road. Dieter M. Sullivan, 63, was killed and Judith Sullivan, his wife of 43 years, was injured when Mr. Bostic's vehicle hit their vehicle.

Warrenton man admits robbing postmaster

A Warrenton man pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to robbing and assaulting a postal worker.

Dennis L. Ficklin, 41, will be sentenced later, according to the U.S. attorney's office. The maximum is 25 years in prison.

Authorities say Mr. Ficklin attacked the postmaster of the Jewell post office Sept. 7, tying and gagging her and taking cash and money orders.

Man could face death in triple homicide case

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty if an Augusta man is convicted in a triple homicide that occurred this month.

Adrian T. Hargrove, 30, was indicted Tuesday on murder and other charges in the deaths of Andrew and Sharon Hartley and Mrs. Hartley's pregnant 18-year-old daughter, Allyson Pederson.

On Wednesday, the district attorney filed notice that he will seek a death sentence.

-- From staff reports