Beals sentenced to four life terms
• Louisville woman shot in the head during home invasion says she can now sleep peacefully
By Ben Nelms
The jury deliberating the home invasion trial last week of convicted felon Lewis Cedric Beals took 35 minutes to return with a guilty verdict. The convicted felon received four consecutive life terms plus 120 years on nine charges stemming from the April 2003 incident. And for victim Glennis Dukes, the nightmares have ended.
The 30 year-old Augusta man was found guilty of two counts of armed robbery, two counts of kidnapping, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of burglary, one count of theft by taking a motor vehicle and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Beals was found guilty on the latter charge after an additional five-minute deliberation by the jury once his guilt on the other charges had been determined.
Having been previously convicted of at least three prior felonies, Beals was required to receive the maximum penalty provided under Georgia law. The sentence issued by Superior Court Judge Walter C. McMillan, Jr. effectively gave Beals life without the possibility of parole.
Beals and 20 year-old Timothy Gene Greene, Jr. entered the Louisville residence of Glennis Dukes and John Harris in the early morning hours of April 7, 2003. Beals and Greene assaulted, terrorized and eventually shot both victims at point blank range before stealing their vehicle and fleeing. Harris was shot three times in the chest and once in the thigh with a .22 caliber rifle while Dukes was shot in the head with a .32 caliber handgun.
Greene changed his plea to guilty May 21 and was sentenced to 25 years without parole. Beals awaits trial for murder in Richmond County over the April 30, 2003 shooting death of convenience store clerk Margaret King
Dukes, Harris and Greene testified against Beals. Each had previously identified him as one of the participants in the home invasion. Harris identified Beals by face, Dukes identified Beals by his voice while Greene stated that he and Beals had broken into their Wrens Quarters residence, terrorized the couple and later shot them.
Greene said he and Beals had arrived in Louisville with the intention of stealing something. They decided on Dukes and Harris' residence because they wanted the rims on their car.
Dukes was visibly shaken during her testimony, recounting the events of the home invasion.
"I was terrified. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't say anything," she explained, fighting the emotion as jury members listened intently.
Dukes explained how she and Harris were forced to walk, hands behind their heads, from the bedroom where they were awakened into the living room after their captors were not satisfied with the small amount of money found in the bathroom. She recalled the struggle in the living room after a search by Greene of Harris' car turned up nothing.
District attorney Hayward Altman took Dukes step by step through the horrific scene of the home invasion. The eyes of jury members were locked on Dukes as she explained how Harris was shot in the abdomen and how she was shot in the head at point blank range just prior to Beals and Greene fleeing her home.
"The one with the pistol walked up to me and put the gun to my head," her voice cracking as she explained Beals' attempt to take her life. "Then he pulled the trigger."
Dukes said Monday that she has slept easier since the guilty verdict was handed down Dec. 16. Now one week later, the nightmares that had visited her sleep so frequently for nearly two years have ended.
"It's been rough, going to bed each night with something hanging over my shoulder, hearing his voice every day, having nightmares several times a week," she said with relief in her voice. "But I haven't had a nightmare since Thursday. It's a blessing. Now I can sleep in peace."
Glascock courthouse renovation voted on
• Commissioners accept a $229,000 bid from Spratlin and Son Construction on phase one of courthouse project
By Ben Nelms
Glascock County commissioners voted Dec. 7 to a $229,000 bid from Spratlin and Son Construction of Lincolnton for the first phase of renovation of the county's historic courthouse.
Commissioners considered bids from Spratlin and two other companies. DNB Builders bid $349,000 while Midwest Maintenance, Inc. bid $263,000. Though originally considered for the renovation project, Peebles House project firm Boykin Construction removed itself from the bid process and has recently encountered questions from commissioners and possible legal action from the county over non-payment to subcontractors.
The courthouse renovation project is funded by a continued one-percent Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) approved by voters in November by a 2-1 margin.
Once completed, the courthouse will largely serve as a judicial building, commissioners said.
The Phase 1 project involves the courthouse exterior and grounds. Plans call for the front doors of the building to be rebuilt. The structure will be painted red and will be offset with white cornices and trim. Architectural shingle roofing will top off the building.
The courthouse grounds are also destined for a new look. Landscaping on the grounds will include Bermuda grass, boxwoods, azaleas, India hawthorn, sasanqua and Carissa holly.
Phase 2 of the project will be bid in early 2005 and involves renovation of the courthouse interior. Though not visible, a main feature of the renovation will be the installation of central heating and air conditioning. Offices of the magistrate judge, probate judge and clerk of the court will be located downstairs. The amount of square footage for the clerk of the court and probate offices, including office and storage space, will be increased substantially. Square footage for the magistrate office will largely remain the same.
An elevator will be added in the area across from the magistrate office in what is now the election office. Accommodations upstairs will include plaster walls and a pressed tin ceiling in the courtroom. Benches will be restored and padded and an area in the rear of the courtroom will be made into a law library.
Included in the upstairs project will be judge's chambers, a witness conference room, a new jury box, a lead-lined jury deliberation room and restroom and a holding room for prisoners. Also included will be a permanent stairway to the attic.
Six interested in DAJC seats
• Commission scheduled to choose two of six at first meeting in January
By Ben Nelms
The move by Jefferson County commissioners to open up the membership to the Development Authority of Jefferson County (DAJC) resulted in the request by six county residents that they be considered for appointment to the board.
In December 2003, the commission decided to open up the appointment process by soliciting the names of interested county residents and staggering the terms of DAJC board members.
When questioned in November about the status of their 2003 decision, commissioners agreed to follow through on their commitment and advertise the openings for the two board members whose terms are set to expire Dec. 31.
Six county residents had submitted their names for consideration by the Dec. 10 deadline.
The two individuals whose terms are expiring, First National Bank Vice President Edith Pundt and State Farm Insurance agent Lee Woods, resubmitted their names for consideration.
Also submitting letters of intent were Jefferson Energy's Steve Talbot, Wasden Realty owner Lisa Wasden, First State Bank President Joe Gore and entrepreneur and Wrens councilman Lester Hadden.
Appointments to the seven-member DAJC and other boards with expiring terms will be made at the first meeting of the commission in January.
Commissioners may decide to reappoint the outgoing members or consider others that meet the qualifications.
Taking office that time will be Chairman-elect William Rabun and District 2 commissioners-elect Johnny Davis and Tommy New. Rounding out the board are commissioners Gonice Davis and Sydney Norton.
Aside from the two DAJC board members with expiring terms Louisville resident and First National board member Jim Horton and Georgia Power supervisor Ray Barrentine, also of Louisville, expire at the end of 2005. Expiring in December 2006 are the terms of Louisville resident and Jefferson Hospital CEO Rita Culvern and First National Bank President Bill Easterlin. And expiring in December 2007 is the term of Wrens resident and First State Bank Board Chairman Ted Johnson.
DAJC is a quasi-governmental entity, receiving .75 mills of property tax funds each year.
At the Nov. 9 meeting, county administrator Paul Bryan recommended that appointments for positions on any board other than routine appointments might be announced to the public to provide a venue for residents to express their desire to serve.