News 12 This Morning Local Update - November 21, 2006

Martinez home destroyed in fire

A family is without a home in Martinez after it was engulfed by flames Monday night (November 20).

The fire happened in the 5000 block of Sussex Drive in Stratford Place subdivision around 11:30.

The house was destroyed. The fire even melted vinyl on the home next door.

Nobody was hurt and investigators still aren't sure what started the blaze.

North Augusta gas station robbed

North Augusta Public Safety officers are trying to catch up with two robbery suspects this morning.

They hit Greg's Gas Plus off Atomic Road just before 11:00 Monday night.

One employee was forced to the ground while another was told to empty the cash register.

The suspects are described as two black males carrying handguns.

Former police officer and deputy charged with murder

59-year-old Dwight Hall is in jail, charged with the murder of 54-year-old Gregory Jones.

He was a former Edgefield police officer and worked as a deputy for the Edgefield County Sheriff's Office before retiring last year.

An autopsy shows Jones was shot twice in the chest Saturday (November 18).

SLED has been called into investigate. Because Hall is a former law enforcement officer in Edgefield County, he is not being held there. Instead he is in the Saluda County Detention Center.

News 12 has also learned Hall was still working for the Edgefield County Clerk of Court as a bailiff.

Man charged in Aiken shooting

In Aiken, a man is in jail charged with assault and battery with intent to kill.

33-year-old Michael Tutt surrendered to investigators Monday afternoon.

At 9 o'clock Saturday night, officers say Tutt got into a fight with 44-year-old Willie Davis, Jr.

Officers say Tutt shot Davis in the stomach.

$100,000 bond for former teacher, coach accused of sex with student

Bond is set at $100,000 for former Harlem High School softball coach 28-year-old Melissa Chase.

Chase is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student and member of her softball team.

This comes after the 16-year-old's mother found love letters and called the sheriff's department.

The investigation is expected to be finished early this week, and a grand jury will decide if there is enough evidence to bring formal charges.

Activist conducts drag strip sound test in south Augusta

Activist Woody Merry is making his message loud and clear to Augusta commissioners about their drag strip plans in south Augusta.

Monday, Merry conducted a noise demonstration to show residents and commissioners what drag racing would sound like out there.

We found many people did not like what they heard.

"I bought my house to live out here in peace and quiet, and now I have to wake up to this Friday, Saturday, and Thursday. And I think it's a shame," said Pat Crouch. "And the next election the Commission and the mayor will not get my vote."

"It would put us out of business," said Pastor Charles Jones of Corinth Baptist Church. "Funerals, weddings, meetings. It would completely put us out."

Neighbors out in south Augusta say they'll also go to the Development Authority meeting in December to protest and may even challenge the city in court.

Few won't face charges

He didn't win the race for Augusta mayor, but former Augusta fire chief Ronnie Few got some good news Monday.

He will not face in charges over a residency controversy.

District attorney Danny Craig has been investigating Few after he signed a homestead exemption for a tax break in Columbia County saying he lived there. Few actually lives in downtown Augusta.

Craig released a statement basically saying the former fire chief didn't benefit financially from what the Augusta Board of Elections called a mistake:

"An indictment for false statements, false swearing, or a false claim of homestead exemption would be unsupported by sufficient evidence to prove criminal intent."
Danny Craig
District Attorney

All of this surfaced during Ronnie Few's bid for mayor.

There was a challenge to his candidacy because of the question about where he lived, but the Board of Elections let him stay on the ballot.

Absentee voting continues

Absentee voting continues today for the December 5th runoff elections.

In Richmond County, there's a race for the school board district nine seat, along with the superior court judge's race.

That race is also on the ballot in Burke and Columbia counties.

Also in Columbia County, there's a runoff for the new school board chairman.