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Bond denied for Augusta man accused of killing neighbor

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 4:52pm

Bond was denied Friday for an Augusta man accused in the shotgun slaying of his neighbor.

Walter Lee Johnson, 60, has been in custody since May 5, two days after 49-year-old Marion Utley was gunned down at his home on Norris Lane.

On May 3, Johnson spent the day drinking beer, Assistant District Attorney Garon Muller said. He found his roommate’s shotgun that afternoon and fired the weapon inside the house, Muller said.

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Death sentence in Boston bomb case

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 3:40pm


BOSTON — A jury sentenced Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death Friday for the Boston Marathon bombing, sweeping aside pleas that he was just a “kid” who fell under the influence of his fanatical older brother.


Tsarnaev, 21, stood with his hands folded upon learning his fate, decided after 14 hours of deliberations over three days in the nation’s most closely watched terrorism trial since the Oklahoma City bombing case two decades ago.


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Doctor says military failed soldier who killed police officer

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 3:03pm

An Army psychiatrist said Friday that he repeatedly warned Fort Gordon commanders of the dangers of a soldier who ended up shooting and killing a Richmond County sheriff’s deputy before killing himself in 2011.

After four years, Dr. Patrick Lillard, 74, said he could no longer keep quiet about how the military failed Spc. Christopher Hodges and as a result likely contributed to the death of Deputy James “J.D.” Paugh, a motorcycle patrolman whom Hodges shot Oct. 23, 2011, after driving drunk on Bobby Jones Expressway.

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Chick-fil-A working with S.C. highway patrol to reward motorists

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 2:55pm

South Carolina troopers are rewarding motorists with chicken sandwiches and lemonade this summer for wearing a seatbelt.

Chick-fil-A has provided the South Carolina Highway Patrol with 55,000 coupons to thank people for buckling up and putting their children in proper child restraints. The Click’n 4 Chicken campaign, which runs alongside the annual Buckle Up, South Carolina campaign, started this week and will continue through Labor Day.

Officials said they hope it will be a “light-hearted” way to bring attention to a serious issue.

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Augusta Commission members to visit Albany, Ga., to check out Ray Charles tribute

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 1:40pm

Seeking to get ideas on how best to capitalize on the James Brown statue downtown, some Augusta Commission members will take a day trip to Albany, Ga., next week to view that city’s tribute to its most famous native son, Ray Charles.

Unveiled in 2007, the $2 million Ray Charles Plaza on the bank of the Flint River features a revolving bronze statue of Charles seated at a piano and surrounded by a cascading fountain.

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North Augusta investigators searching for armed robbery suspect

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 1:39pm


North Augusta Public Safety investigators are searching for a male subject accused of robbing the Greg’s Gas Plus at 100 Edgefield Road at gunpoint early Thursday morning.

According to a NAPS incident report, a Greg’s Gas employee said a black man in a light gray hoodie approached her window just before 3 a.m. and demanded cash. When she opened her register drawer, the man pulled out a black handgun and pointed it at her.

The clerk reported that around $80 was taken by the suspect, although that number has not been confirmed.

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Aiken man's death called homicide

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 1:22pm


A man shot in the head at a Brown Lane home in Aiken last week has died, Aiken County Coroner Tim Carlton said.

Darius Scruggs, 21, was pronounced dead at 9:46 a.m. Friday at Georgia Regents Medical Center.

Aiken police have released few details on the shooting.

In a news release issued the day of the shooting, Aiken Public Safety Lt. Carl Odenthal said police were called to the home at 5:25 a.m. on May 9 for a burglary in process. They found Scruggs, a non-resident of the home, with a gunshot wound.

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Count shows fewer homeless in Augusta

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 1:14pm

Preliminary findings of a 2015 count released Friday show Augusta’s homeless population has decreased by nearly half in the past two years, but one city official said it’s too soon to celebrate.

A citywide count conducted the last week in January found the city’s homeless population had fallen from about 800 people in 2013 to 407 this year, with 129 men, women and children living on the streets and 278 in emergency shelters and transitional housing.

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Ga. GOP convention starts today

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 10:47am


ATHENS, Ga. -- Speeches will be the order of the day today as the Georgia Republican Party’s two-day biennial state convention gets under way in Athens, with two formally declared presidential candidates and a likely GOP contender headlining the bill at The Classic Center in downtown Athens.

Festivities for the early arrivals among the 3,500 people expected for the GOP convention began Thursday evening, with a welcome party sponsored by Georgia Republican Party Chairman John Padgett and state Sen. Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, in the Atrium at The Classic Center.

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Blues musician B.B. King dies

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 6:43am

LAS VEGAS — B.B. King believed anyone could play the blues, and that “as long as people have problems, the blues can never die.”


But no one could play the blues like B.B. King, who died Thursday night at age 89 in Las Vegas, where he had been in hospice care.


Although he kept performing well into his 80s, the 15-time Grammy winner suffered from diabetes and other problems. He collapsed during a concert in Chicago last October, later blaming dehydration and exhaustion.


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Bond denied for Augusta man facing retrial on murder charge

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 10:52pm

Bond was denied Thurs­day for an Augusta man facing a retrial on a murder charge in a 2006 fatal shootout.

The case against Eddie Lee Freeman, 30, was returned to Richmond County Superior Court in October after the Georgia Supreme Court ruled his 2008 conviction had to be reversed because of an improper comment by the judge.

Freeman and two other men were arrested in the Sept. 12, 2006, shooting death of 21-year-old Terrance D. Moore in a local motel room.

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Animal subcommittee discusses exemptions to spay, neuter requirement

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 10:46pm

The subcommittee working to revise Richmond County’s 35-year-old animal ordinances came closer Thursday to narrowing down a list of potential groups that would be exempt from spay and neuter requirements in the ordinance package.

The subcommittee last week approved charging owners with sterilized animals a one-time $10 licensing fee while imposing a $100 annual licensing fee on owners who refuse to spay or neuter their pets.

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Event to help shelter animals find homes

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 10:30pm


Augusta Animal Services is holding its third annual Family Fun Day on Saturday to help educate the public about pet care and to move dogs and cats out of the high-kill shelter and into loving homes.

The shelter is offering a special $40 adoption rate per animal, which is almost half the price of normal adoptions. These animals are already spayed or neutered, fully vaccinated and micro-chipped.

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Solar panel farm on Fort Gordon part of Army efforts to diversify energy sources

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 10:28pm

U.S. Army initiatives to diversify the nation’s energy grid with renewable sources reached a new benchmark Thursday with the start of construction for a 209-acre solar panel farm on Fort Gordon.

The 30-megawatt solar plant and two other similar-sized facilities at Fort Stewart and Fort Benning will result in 18 percent of the Army’s energy consumption in Georgia when complete. The Fort Gordon plant, on land near the Gordon Lakes Golf Course, is expected to begin producing electricity next year.

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Westminster Schools of Augusta senior wins Youth of the Year award

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 7:37pm

Palmer Brigham is “obviously smart,” her grandmother said Thursday after the Westminster senior was announced as the Augusta Exchange Club’s Youth of the Year. But she added, it’s her heart that sets her apart.

“It’s not surprising,” Patricia Brigham said of her granddaughter. “She’s one who has always given herself to other people.”

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