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Augusta Commission members reluctant to judge Donnie Smith

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 10:44pm

Augusta Commissioner Donnie Smith’s peers on the commission were reluctant to pass judgment on their colleague Thursday, citing a need to wait for more information and respect they had for his work on the commission.

Smith, 51, retired early from Georgia State Patrol on Monday. A case summary released Thursday on the first part of an investigation ongoing since June affirmed allegations he’d worked for an Augusta hospitality house during Masters Week while also drawing his state patrol salary, a violation of state policy and state law.

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Teenager in custody after home robbery

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 9:07pm

A 17-year-old suspect is in custody after police say he burglarized a home Tuesday in Richmond County.

Approximately 11:43 a.m., deputies responded to the 200 block of Chatham Road, where Patrick O’Neal Bennett is accused of stealing four rings, a fireproof safe, a laptop and Xbox 360, according to an incident report from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies say Bennett gained entry by breaking a kitchen window, stole the items, then fled the scene in a 1999 Dodge Caravan.

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Fort hospital recognized for low surgical complications

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 8:26pm

With new technology and longstanding safeguards in place, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center celebrated a national study this week that found the Fort Gordon hospital has consistently ranked among the best in the country for lower-than-expected surgical complication rates.

The findings of a 2013 study by the American College of Surgeons – first reported by The New York Times this summer – show Eisenhower is among four of the military’s 16 largest hospitals that had surgical complication rates below 2 percent last year.

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Death penalty trial expected to begin next month

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 8:10pm


Only a month remains before Kelvin Johnson’s death penalty trial begins, and the defense has yet to turn over any significant discovery, District Attorney Ashley Wright complained to a judge Thursday.

It’s not fair, Judge J. David Roper agreed, but the rule in death penalty cases is that discovery doesn’t have to be provided until 10 days before trial.

The judge told Wright, however, that he would ensure she had whatever time she needs to adequately prepare for any defense witnesses.

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Third suspect sought in Aiken home invasion, assault

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 6:50pm

Aiken Public Safety investigators are searching for an Aiken man wanted on charges of first degree burglary, kidnapping, strong armed robbery and first degree assault.

Michael Wallace Dorn, 39, is accused in an Aug. 24 home invasion on the 200 block of Williamsburg Street, according to a news release from detective Jeremy Hembree. Dorn, Justin Cooper and Tobias Thomas are accused of forcing their way into the victim’s home, assaulting the victim and stealing electronics and money.

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Islamic Society of Augusta condemns ISIS

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 6:21pm

The Islamic Society of Augusta released a statement Thursday condemning the beheadings of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

“The anti-Islamic terrorist group ISIS has been wreaking havoc in Syria and Iraq under the banner of its misinterpretations of Islam,” said Dr. Hossam Fadel, one of three members at large of the Islamic Society of Augusta. “Islamic principles forbid the killing of noncombatants. United States national Muslim organizations have condemned its actions.”

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Police asking for help finding missing man

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 3:54pm

Police are asking for assistance in finding a Warrenville man who has been missing since July.

Martine Aguilar, 20, was last seen in the Clearwater area on July 28. He was reported missing by a close friend exactly one month later.

Police said Aguilar suffers from mental retardation.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts can contact the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office at (803) 648-6811 or Crimestoppers at (888) CRIME-SC.

Joan Rivers dead at 81

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 3:04pm

NEW YORK — Joan Rivers, the raucous, acid-tongued comedian who crashed the male-dominated realm of late-night talk shows and turned Hollywood red carpets into danger zones for badly dressed celebrities, died Thursday. She was 81.

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Augusta detention center barber faces charges

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 1:25pm

An Augusta Youth Development Campus barber has been charged with soliciting a youth at the facility.

A Department of Juvenile Justice news release stated the youth reported harassment by Steven Kenneth Boler to a corrections officer on Aug. 17. Boler, 51, was immediately escorted from the facility and an investigation began.

Boler resigned Aug. 21 and was arrested by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 3 on a charge of enticing a child for indecent purposes. The news release did not give details on the harassment.

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Storm problems across Georgia

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 1:06pm

ATLANTA — Thunderstorms spawned intense lightning and powerful winds across Georgia, sparking house fires in suburban Atlanta and toppling trees and power lines in several counties.

Heavy rains today also flooded several lanes of Interstate 20 in Atlanta, leading to traffic jams during the evening rush hour.

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Angela Pringle takes oath, becomes Richmond County superintendent

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 12:29pm


Angela Pringle officially became the Richmond County Superintendent of Schools on Thursday, reciting the oath of her office in a courtroom packed with family members, education officials, politicians and members of the public.

Pringle’s oath, administered by Probate Judge Harry James, required her to state she was fully qualified to hold her office and to follow the laws of Georgia while performing her new job. After reciting the oath, Pringle thanked her family and Richmond County Board of Education members for helping her during the selection process.

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Murder charge in Atlanta SUV child death

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 12:20pm

ATLANTA — More than two months after his son’s death in a hot car, a Georgia man who prosecutors say sat in his office exchanging nude photos with women while his son languished for hours was charged with murder on Thursday.

A Cobb County grand jury indicted Justin Ross Harris on multiple charges, including malice murder, felony murder and cruelty to children. The malice murder charge indicates that prosecutors believe that Harris intentionally left his son Cooper in the hot car to die.

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Augusta Commission's Donnie Smith double-dipped during Masters Week, Georgia investigation finds

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 11:30am

Augusta Commission member Donnie Smith broke Georgia State Patrol policy and state law, according to a Department of Public Safety investigation released Thursday.

Smith claimed pay for work as a State Patrol lieutenant while also working at an Augusta “hospitality house” during Masters Week, the investigation found.

Smith, who retired early from the State Patrol on Monday, claimed in a summary of the investigation that he was merely “hanging out” with friends during the tournament week.

He hasn’t responded to messages seeking comment.

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Pringle sworn in as school superintendent

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 9:35am

Angela Pringle was sworn in as school superintendent this morning in ceremonies at the Augusta Richmond County Judicial Center.

She replaces Frank Roberson, whose tenure ended when the board did not renew his contract.

Pringle has been working in the DeKalb County school system since 2007, beginning as a high school principal and working her way up to Region 2 superintendent in 2010.

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SC Bible college founder pleads guilty

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 9:08am

FLORENCE, S.C. — The founder of a Bible college in South Carolina faces more than 40 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges stemming from overworking and underpaying international students.

Area media outlets report that Reginald Wayne Miller, the founder of Cathedral Bible College in Marion, pleaded Wednesday in federal court in Florence.

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Aiken County robbery suspect surrenders

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 8:28am

A suspect in the armed robbery of a Bath gas station has turned himself in, the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday.

Jeremy Jacob Grey, 20, of Aiken, contacted police about 10 p.m. Wednesday requesting they meet him at the Circle K, where the robbery took place in late August.

Grey was booked into Aiken County Detention Center without incident.

He was named as a suspect soon after the 10 p.m. Aug. 28 robbery at Circle K, 2557 Wagener Road. Police said a man came in the store with his face covered and demanded cash. He left in a Nissan pickup.

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