Local Update - January 15, 2007

Rape suspect arrested

A man is in jail charged with rape and theft. His name is Michael Christopher Blocker. He lives within a few blocks of where a 74-year-old woman was assaulted last week at her home on Walton Way.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

In observance of the holiday, the following county offices and schools will be closed: Richmond, Columbia, Aiken, Burke, McDuffie, and Edgefield counties and the city of North Augusta.

Public transit and garbage services will also not run today.

Dr. King will be remembered across the country today for his role in the civil rights movement in 1964. He was the youngest man ever awarded the Nobel peace prize.

Four years later, on April 4, 1968, Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis.

In 1977, he was awarded the presidential Medal of Freedom.

There are plenty of observances taking place around Augusta in honor of Dr. King.

Beulah Grove Baptist Church will hold a ceremony beginning at 10:45 a.m.

Paine College will host a speaker at 11 a.m.

Then there will be a re-enactment of the march on Washington at the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame and Botanical Gardens beginning at noon.

Finally, the NAACP is hosting the Freedom Fund Banquet at the Augusta Towers hotel starting at 7.

News 12 will bring you complete coverage of the day's events.

Man charged in cousin's death

In Columbia County, 40-year-old George Reid is charged with murdering his cousin, 45-year-old Thomas Tankersley.

Tankersley's estranged wife found him shot in the head Saturday morning at his home on Cobbham Road.

Deputies aren't sure when he was killed, but we can expect an autopsy this week.

If convicted of murder, Reid could face the death penalty.

Man allegedly shoots girlfriend in face

Deputies say Lanessa Merriweather was shot by her boyfriend while they were sitting on the front steps of her south Augusta home.

The boyfriend, Otis Stewart, has been arrested.

Deputies say the suspect denied the whole thing, but neighbors say they heard the shot just before noon Friday.

Merriweather is being labeled a no-information patient.

Stewart is being held at the Richmond County Jail.

Deputy fired for not following informant protocol

Failure to follow protocol cost an Aiken County deputy his job.

In August, an informant claimed Cpl. John Herring paid $10 for sex acts and gave a woman cigarettes in exchange for touching her.

The sheriff's office says they found nothing to prove those allegations, but Herring did admit he gave her money and cigarettes in exchange for information.

Lt. Michael Frank say's that is why the deputy was fired--because he did not document the exchange of money ahead of time, which is against the sheriff's office's policy.

"Before we establish a relationship with an informant, a lot of things have to take place," Lt. Frank said. "If the plan calls for money in exchange for information, that has to be documented ahead of time."

The deputy's termination form says the use of any confidential informant and payment to informants must be properly documented by the agency's narcotics supervisor.

Herring was fired after two years with the sheriff's department.