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Several Columbia County murder cases still await trial

Posted: February 16, 2012 - 10:01am  |  Updated: February 16, 2012 - 10:53am
The murder trial of Thomas Eugene Bradford, 42, of Hephzibah, will begin Monday. He is accused of fatally shooting Columbia County employee Raymond V. Lee, 38, on April 1, 2011, at a wastewater treatment plant on Stevens Creek Road in Martinez.
The murder trial of Thomas Eugene Bradford, 42, of Hephzibah, will begin Monday. He is accused of fatally shooting Columbia County employee Raymond V. Lee, 38, on April 1, 2011, at a wastewater treatment plant on Stevens Creek Road in Martinez.

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A Harlem 15-year-old is awaiting sentencing after being convicted last week of murdering his 14-year-old friend.

Aaron Schmidt faces life with or without parole. His sentencing hearing hasn’t yet been scheduled.

But other accused murderers still await trial in Columbia County.

Thomas Eugene Bradford, 43, of Hephzibah, is accused of fatally shooting Raymond V. Lee, 38, at a Columbia County wastewater treatment plant on April 1.

His trial is expected to start Monday before Superior Court Judge David Roper, said Assistant District Attorney Geoffrey Fogus.

Also on a trial calendar Monday is Deborah Yvonne Hill, 48, and her daughter, Brittany Michelle Hurst, 19. The pair are accused in the death of an 85-year-old woman in their care.

Authorities say Blanche Aline Carpenter’s death wasn’t immediately reported and she died from medical complications of neglect inside Hill’s Locks Hill home on Aug. 25.

Assistant District Attorney Pittman Morris said a mental evaluation was ordered for Hurst.

“We’re waiting to get the results back on that before we can go forward (with prosecution of the case),” Morris said.

Hurst was released from the Columbia County Detention Center on Dec. 8 after posting a $25,000 bond and Hill was released Jan. 4 after posting a $50,000, according to jailers.

Another mother-child pair also is awaiting trial.

Rebecca Bowers Sears, 44, and her 22-year-old son, Christopher Sean Bowers, are charged with murder for allegedly using a bat and claw hammer to beat neighbor Laverne “Kay” Parsons to death on March 25, 2009.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in that case. Sears’ case was tentatively expected to head to a courtroom in April, after Masters Week.

District Attorney Ashley Wright said because of a conflict with a scheduled trial in Richmond County, Sears and Bowers won’t go to trial in April. Another date has not yet been set.

Sears and Bowers, by law, must have separate trials, Wright has said.

Another case that hasn’t yet seen a courtroom is the one against Johndrick Lors Levert Barnes, 20, of Augusta. He’s accused of the March 19 fatal shooting of James Sterling Gillette Jr., 19. Gillette was working at the Belair Conference Center at a crowded 16th birthday party for one of James Brown’s grandchildren when the shooting occurred.

Five people, including a 16-year-old, were charged with making false statements. Deandre Tyrell Jones pled guilty in October and the juvenile pled guilty in Juvenile Court in July.

The cases against Brandon Devon Berry, Morreio Demetrius Carswell and Jordan Dashawn Harrison are still pending, Assistant District Attorney Natalie Paine said.

Barnes’ prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Rex Myers, said the case hasn’t been to trial for numerous reasons, including waiting on resolutions in the cases against those charged with making false statements; allowing a new defense attorney, Clayton Jolly, to get familiar with the case; and because it is a complicated case.

“It really is a combination of all those factors, and not one in particular,” Myers explained in an email.

Myers said he doesn’t know when Barnes’ case might go to trial.

 

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