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Memorable cases handled at Evans courthouse

2002

Posted: August 28, 2012 - 11:17pm
File photo by Jim Blaylock   Rebecca Bowers Sears stands at her 2012 sentencing hearing where she and her son, Christopher Sean Bowers, pled guilty to murdering Laverne "Kay" Parsons.  Valerie Rowell
Valerie Rowell
File photo by Jim Blaylock Rebecca Bowers Sears stands at her 2012 sentencing hearing where she and her son, Christopher Sean Bowers, pled guilty to murdering Laverne "Kay" Parsons.

Twitter @ValerieRowell

Numerous high-profile criminal cases have been resolved in the 10 years the Columbia County Justice Center and Courthouse Annex has been in operation. Some of the more memorable cases include:

2002

• In August, Tamika Bumpass pled guilty to shooting a Columbia County deputy and was sentenced to 40 years in prison on assault, escape and fraud charges.

Deputy Glenda Shelton was shot by Bumpass, a female prisoner. She escaped, but was found hours later. Shelton eventually recovered.

2003

Thryshaun Ronta McCladdie was sentenced to 21 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual battery and child molestation. The Greenbrier High School senior was arrested in April 2003 for sexual attacks on school grounds.

2004

Dag Laquincette Rhodes, Jimmy Lee Rhodes and David East-erling were sentenced to life in prison without parole after a jury convicted them of the murder of Frederick and Yong-Suk Walker. The Walkers, who owned a liquor and check-cashing business in Augusta, were shot to death in the bedroom of their Country Place home in Evans on Feb. 2, 1998.

2005

Tom Edwin Chumley, 55, of Augusta, was sentenced to life in prison plus five years for the Feb. 28, 2003 shooting death of his mother, Meredith Pete Guy, 74, of Martinez. The conviction was overturned in January 2008 and he was granted a new trial where he was acquitted.

2006

• Greenbrier High School students Reginald Anthony Rice III, of Grovetown, and Shadrick M. Harris, of Appling were sentenced to probation in Juvenile Court. Rice pled guilty to felony statutory rape and Harris pled to misdemeanor sexual battery.

Rice had been charged as an adult in the rape of one girl and the aggravated child molestation of another. The incidents involved two 14-year-old girls and a 15-year-old girl and took place at a building behind the home of a 16-year-old boy in September 2005.

Rice later attended The Citadel as a football player, left the team and was arrested in connection with a burglary in Charleston.

Cory Blaine Coggins, of Martinez, was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of the murder of Daniel McFarland “Mack” Smith. Smith was stabbed to death in 2001 during a brawl at Applecross Apartments in Martinez. Coggins and Barry Keith Tabor Jr. were charged in June 2005. Prosecutors dropped charges against Tabor midway through the trial.

2007

• Former Harlem High School softball coach Melissa Lee Chase received a 10-year prison sentence for having a sexual encounter with a 16-year-old student. She was charged in November 2006 with sexual assault against a student enrolled in school.

Chase was released from prison in July 2009 after the Georgia Supreme Court ruled she should have been allowed to use consent as a defense. The state law subsequently was changed as a result of the case.

Tiara Maria Smith, of Augusta, was sentenced to life in prison after she pled guilty to two counts of murder, feticide, two counts of serious injury by vehicle and fleeing and attempting to elude police. Smith and a passenger, Nebula Denise McNeely, were charged with murder in connection to a June 2006 wreck. They were evading police after shoplifting from Marshall’s, ran a red light on Washington Road at Bobby Jones and hit a Chrysler Cirrus.

McNeely was convicted on similar charges the following year.

Margaret Patricia Branton, 63, and her son, Lonnie D. Turner, 37, both of Martinez, were killed instantly.

Turner’s pregnant wife lost her unborn baby and their 4-year-old son received minor injuries.

2008

• A mistrial was declared for Brandon Christopher Newman, who was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide after a May 2007 wreck that killed his brother Cameron Newman, 23, and Mallory Jason, 19, and seriously injured a 16-year-old girl. He was retried in February 2010.

2009

• In two separate trials, Columbia County juries convicted Karmbi Octavious Young, Willie Bernard Butler and Martin Napoleon Homes for the September 2008 killing of 33-year-old Rickey Gibson in his Grovetown home. All were sentenced to life in prison.

• A jury acquitted Patrick Antwon Booker of malice murder and did not reach a verdict on a felony murder charge. He was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of burglary, armed robbery and two counts of aggravated assault. Garland Ray Pittman pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter, robbery and two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime in April 2010 and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

2010

Brandon Christopher Newman, of Harlem, was sentenced to 22 years in prison on charges stemming from a May 2007 wreck on Harlem-Grovetown Road that killed his brother, Cameron Newman, 23, and Mallory Jason, 19.

2011

• Former Columbia County Commissioner Scott Dean was convicted in December of two counts of child molestation for inappropriately touching his teenage adopted daughter. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison in February 2012 and denied a new trial in June 2012.

2012

• A jury convicted Lacy Aaron Schmidt, 15, of murder in the Jan. 31, 2011, shooting of 14-year-old Alana May Calahan at her Miles Road home. Schmidt, of Harlem, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Thomas Eugene Bradford of Hephzibah was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted in the April 1, 2011 shooting death of Raymond V, Lee at a Columbia County water treatment plant.

Rebecca Bowers Sears and her son, Christopher Sean Bowers, were sentenced to life without parole after pleading guilty to murder charges in the beating death of Laverne “Kay” Parsons in March 2009.

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