Across the area

18-year-old convicted of '06 murder, robbery

A Richmond County Superior Court jury convicted a young man of felony murder and armed robbery for killing a man when he was 15 years old.

Antoine M. Thaxton, now 18, was found guilty of the crimes committed May 28, 2006, when 33-year-old Jason Harrington was shot at the door of an apartment on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Mr. Harrington died 12 days later.

During the trial, which began last week and continued Tuesday morning, witnesses testified they recognized Mr. Thaxton as the gunman who demanded money from Mr. Harrington. Witnesses also testified that when he was arrested at his grandmother's North Carolina home, Mr. Thaxton said he might have shot the man, but "he died on his own."

Mr. Thaxton faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison for the murder conviction. The armed robbery and weapon convictions could add 15 years to life.

Car-truck collision kills speeding woman

An Evans woman was killed Tuesday after her vehicle hit a truck on Furys Ferry Road near Hardy McManus Road.

Ella Sikes, 57, of the 1000 block of Waltons Pass, died about 3 p.m. from internal and head injuries, Columbia County Deputy Coroner Harriet Garrison said.

Ms. Sikes was speeding in a Chevy Cobalt about 10:30 a.m. and ran a stop sign at Hardy McManus Road, said Columbia County sheriff's Sgt. A.J. Lyons. After turning right onto Furys Ferry Road, she crossed into the center lane and struck a Ford truck, Sgt. Lyons said. The truck is owned by White Brothers Warehouse Inc. on Gordon Highway.

The driver of the truck was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital with minor injuries and was released Tuesday, according to a hospital spokesperson. The wreck halted traffic on Furys Ferry Road for about 45 minutes.

3-day furlough forced on Aiken Tech faculty

AIKEN --- Aiken Technical College announced Tuesday that all faculty and staff would take a three-day furlough in April to accommodate a 7 percent budget cut from the state last week.

The days will be taken during spring break, April 6-10, and the pay would be taken from February, March and April's pay so checkbooks don't feel the hit all at once, college President Dr. Susan Winsor said. Four staff members were let go this week.

Dr. Winsor also announced that the paralegal program would be phased out as students graduated, but other programs would not be affected until the school could conduct a study over the next six to eight months.

The school has lost 24.4 percent of its state funding since July, $1.1 million.