Father charged after boy shoots Harlem girl
Police have filed drugs and weapons charges against the owner of the Harlem home where a 13-year-old girl was shot Thursday.
Richard Wayne Provance, 54, was charged with drug possession and manufacture and possession of a gun during commission of a crime, according to a Columbia County Sheriff’s Office report.
He was booked Thursday into the Columbia County Law Enforcement Center and is being held without bond, said Columbia County Sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris.
About 4 p.m. Thursday, Harlem police were called to Provance’s Keener Street home after his 14-year-old son shot 13-year-old Ellie Kelly in the face. A .38 caliber pistol was found in the home.
Kelly, the boy, and another boy and girl, were preparing for a dance at Harlem Middle School when the shooting took place, Morris said. No adults were in the home at the time, he added.
Kelly, of the 6200 block of Otis Way in Harlem, was airlifted to the Medical College of Georgia Hospital, where she is being treated, Morris said.
The shooting is being ruled accidental, Harlem Public Safety Director David Sward said.
The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office was called in to assist in the case, and inside the home investigators discovered “18.4 grams of marijuana, three marijuana plants, two partially smoked marijuana cigarettes and three bags of marijuana seeds,” along with a Colt .45 pistol and marijuana-growing paraphernalia, according to a police report.
Provance then was arrested, Morris said.
The boy, whose name is not being released, was charged with reckless conduct and possession of a firearm by a person under 18. He was transferred to the Regional Youth Detention Center, Morris said.
A detention hearing for the boy was held Friday in Columbia County Juvenile Court where custody of the boy was removed from his father, and Judge Doug Flanagan ordered the boy held pending psychological evaluation.
Lakeside grad charged in S.C. stabbing
An Evans man was arrested Tuesday after he and a 16-year-old Greer, S.C., girl stabbed her step-father, held him and her mother hostage and ran away together.
Justin Winthrop Foss, 20, of Marshall Way, entered the Riverwood Farms subdivision home of Kathleen Elizabeth Fentress, 16, at about 5 a.m., according to a Greer Police Department report.
Fentress’ mother, Stephanie Cowart, told police that her daughter had been communicating with Foss, a 2010 Lakeside High School graduate, on Facebook.
Foss cut Cowart’s husband, Ulie Cowart, in the neck and stabbed him in the shoulder.
A Greer Police spokesman said Fentress was a willing participant.
Foss and Fentress then tied her mother’s hands and taped her mouth and demanded money and jewelry at gunpoint, according to arrest warrants issued for both.
Foss and Fentress left together in a gold Ford Explorer about 8:45 a.m., and authorities stopped them on U.S. Highway 221 near Roebuck, S.C., about 40 minutes later.
Fentress’ stepfather was taken to Greer Memorial Hospital, where he remained hospitalized after surgery.
Foss and Fentress were charged with attempted murder, conspiracy, two counts of kidnapping and two counts of armed robbery. Foss also was charged with possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime.
At a bond hearing Tuesday, a judge denied bond for Foss and granted a $300,000 bond to Fentress.
Foss is being held at the Greenville County Detention Center. Fentress was sent to the Greenville County Juvenile Detention Center, Holcombe said.
Evans woman killed in crash
A Spanish teacher at Jefferson High School died last week when she drove into the path of another vehicle.
Heidi Benstead Hernandez, 28, of Evans, was traveling north on Campground Road outside Wrens about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday when she pulled out in front of a car driven by Neiley Donell Chance, 37, of Sardis, Ga., according to the Georgia State Patrol.
Hernandez was killed and a passenger in her car, Steven Bryant Jones, 34, of Martinez, and Chance were taken to the MCG Hospital, where Chance was discharged and Jones was in fair condition, a hospital spokesman said.
GBI called in teacher sex case
The day after a Thomson Police Department captain said the agency would defer any prosecution to Columbia County, the chief asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to enter the investigation of a teacher accused of having sex with a Harlem High School student at his Thomson home.
The GBI is being asked to help because of the “multi-jurisdictional” nature of the allegations against former Harlem Junior ROTC teacher Mitchell Sivas, Thomson Police Chief Joe Nelson said in a news release.
Sivas, 57, who resigned from the school when confronted about his relationship with the 17-year-old Harlem High senior, denied when asked at his home March 3 by Thomson police whether sexual activity between the two had occurred.
The student later admitted the two had engaged in sex “on more than one occasion,” said Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris.
According to Georgia law, sex between a teacher and a student who attends the same school constitutes sexual assault, and the student’s consent cannot be used as a defense.
Authorities have no evidence to suggest any of the sexual activity took place at the school or in Columbia County, Morris said. Any charges would have to be brought where the activity took place.
“We have been advised that an improper relationship has been committed possibly within the Thomson city limits, McDuffie County, Columbia County and/or Lincoln County,” says Nelson’s statement, which he hand-delivered to The McDuffie Mirror on Thursday. “Since our jurisdiction is limited to the city of Thomson and the fact that this is obviously a multi-jurisdictional matter, we are asking the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to assist us.”
A person convicted under the law is subject to a minimum of one year in prison and a maximum of 25, and a fine of up to $100,000, or both, with harsher penalties for younger victims.
Florida couple caught after attempted robbery, chase
A Florida couple was jailed Thursday after attempting to rob a Harlem convenience store and leading police on a brief chase.
Joel Enrique Rosario, 28, of Lehigh Acres, and Amy Ann Lucio, 28, of Felda, are charged with armed robbery. Rosario also faces a charge of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
A clerk at Pumpkin Center store on Appling-Harlem Highway said the couple came into the store at about 12:30 a.m. They collected a few items and brought them to the register, according to a Sheriff’s Office incident report.
As the clerk rang up the items, Rosario pulled out a .380 pistol and demanded money from the safe. When the clerk said there was no store safe, Rosario fired the gun toward him. More customers came into the store and the couple ran out, sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said.
Rosario and Lucio left in a dark-colored car headed toward Interstate 20. A deputy located the Geo Prism on I-20 near Belair Road. They led authorities on a brief chase before they were apprehended in the parking lot of Lowe’s in Evans, Morris said.
Two patrol cars received minor damage, but no one was injured.
Deputies found a 2-year-old child curled up in the back seat. The child was taken to the Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center for evaluation, Morris said. The Department of Child and Family Services also was contacted.
Rosario and Lucio are being held in the Columbia County Detention Center without bond.
Prosecution to proceed for two charged in fatal burglary
A Columbia County Magistrate judge ruled Tuesday that two of three alleged burglars involved in a fatal home invasion last month proceed to prosecution in Superior Court.
The men, along with another man who was fatally shot during the Feb. 29 attempt to rob a Martinez apartment, targeted resident Bruce Barrett because they believed he had cash for buying video games.
Authorities say Barrett’s 15-year-old son twice shot intruder Justin Anthony Stephens, 19, as he and Leonard Jamal Walton, 18, forced their way into the Cedar Lane apartment and struggled with his father, Columbia County sheriff’s office Investigator James Edmunds said during the preliminary hearing for alleged accomplices Jose Lopez-Gamero and Edward Albert Brown III.
Barrett’s son saw the struggle and retrieved his father’s rifle from a bedroom.
After yelling at the men to leave, the boy fired two shots. Both bullets struck Stephens, who died just outside the apartment door.
At the hearing, Chief Magistrate Judge Bobby Christine said enough evidence existed against Lopez-Gamero, 21, and Brown, 19, to proceed with prosecution in Superior Court.
The pair acted as getaway driver and lookout, respectively, for Stephens and Walton.
All three were interviewed in the days following the robbery attempt. Lopez-Gamero and Brown admitted their roles in the home invasion, while Walton denied any involvement, Edmunds said.
All three men were charged with burglary and criminal attempt to commit a felony. Brown and Walton also were charged with simple battery.
At the hearing, Christine denied bond for Brown and Lopez-Gamero. All three men are being held in the Columbia County Detention Center.