Mistrial declared in car-crash deaths
The failure of a Columbia County jury to reach a verdict Saturday in the trial of a Harlem man prompted Superior Court Judge Carl. C. Brown Jr. to declare a mistrial.
Brandon Christopher Newman, 26, had been charged with two counts of vehicular homicide in a May 2007 accident that killed his brother and a female passenger.
The trial lasted most of the week. After the jurors deliberated five hours Friday and 31/2 hours Saturday, they told the judge they were sharply divided.
Police said Newman was driving his truck on Harlem-Grovetown Road with his brother Cameron, 23; Mallory Jason, 19; and Sarah Boykin, 16. He lost control in a sharp curve and hit a tree. The crash killed his brother and Jason, and injured Boykin.
Newman was accused of racing with a friend before the crash.
He also was charged with a count of serious injury by vehicle, driving under the influence of alcohol, driving with excessive blood concentration, reckless driving and an open-container violation.
During the trial, his defense attorney contended that Newman was not under the influence of alcohol and was bumped from behind by his friend's vehicle, causing him to lose control of his truck.
The district attorney will decide whether to retry Newman.
The following accounts were taken from reports from the Columbia County Sheriff's Office. Additional reports are available at www.columbiacountyso.org:
Thief threatens Kmart worker
A shoplifter threatened a Kmart employee with a handgun and then tried to run him over Thursday before making off with $2,000 in jewelry.
The employee said that he saw a man and woman break into two locked cabinets at the Martinez store's jewelry counter and take 40 pieces of jewelry.
As the employee approached, the man pulled out a handgun and threatened to shoot him.
The employee did not try to catch the shoplifters, but followed them to a Dodge Intrepid sedan. As he began to write down the vehicle's tag number, the driver tried to back up and hit him with the car.
Vehicle vandalism reported in Evans
Three cases of vandalism were reported on Park Chase Drive in Evans during the weekend.
A man told police that someone drew a derogatory image on the tailgate of his truck with a marker between 7:30 p.m. Friday and 5 a.m. Saturday.
A man called police after noticing that a vulgar picture and words had been drawn in black marker on his vehicle. The incident occurred between 6:40 p.m. Friday and 12:25 p.m. Saturday.
While patrolling the area, police saw a damaged mailbox at a woman's home. They also found inappropriate pictures drawn in black marker on her vehicle's door and hood. The incident happened between 10 p.m. Friday and 4 a.m. Saturday.
Grovetown house is burglarized
A Grovetown man told police someone had broken into his home Friday.
Someone had thrown a piece of concrete into a side bathroom window between 12:40 and 1:32 p.m. Friday.
The resident said $200 in jewelry, a 32-inch LCD television set valued at $696, an Xbox 360, a PlayStation 2 and computer equipment valued at $700 were taken.
Two rings that did not belong to the residents were found in the bathroom.
Criminal activity found at businesses
A manager at Pizza Joint called police after he arrived at work Sunday and noticed that the beer and food coolers were not working.
He told police that someone had turned off power to the Evans business.
He said that there was no damage to the equipment but that he was concerned about damage to the food and beverages that were in the coolers
Also on Sunday, an employee at Reliable Equipment called police after a friend told him the gate to the business was open.
The employee called a co-worker, who was at the store on Washington Road in Martinez, to check the business.
The chain on the back gate had been cut and a mortar mixer valued at nearly $2,000 was missing.
Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue Activity Report. Nov. 9-15:
Structure fires, four; wood/brush/grass fires, two; controlled/unauthorized burns, three; activated fire alarms, eight; medical incidents, 13; vehicle accidents, eight; investigate various incidents, two; assist residents, one; and mutual aid/public safety assistance, two.
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