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November 12, 2009 Issue

Man charged with killing Wadley gator
Easterlin offers fencing class in Louisville
Child killed when father wrecks car running from officer

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Man charged with killing Wadley gator

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

An alligator estimated to be between 75 and 100 years old has been killed.

Law enforcement officials arrested Robert Neuton Powell, 43, of Wadley Thursday, Oct. 22. DNR Ranger Grant Matherly said Powell has been charged with hunting out of season and possession of alligator parts.

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“It’s illegal to possess any part of an alligator that has not been legally taken,” Matherly said.

“In Georgia, you have to put in for a drawing to get a license and they only issue so many of those a year. If you’ve been issued one of those licenses, you can legally hunt an alligator,” he said.

The ranger said he took warrants out against Powell in August.

“Being that he was already in jail, I couldn’t arrest him. I had to take warrants out on him,” he said.

Matherly said during the course of an investigation, he and a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office investigator, Lt. Clark Heibert, went to the man’s property where he saw the alligator’s head.

“The alligator may have been dead four or five days at the most,” he said. “I went back and got search warrants and then came back and got that.”

The ranger said it’s difficult to age an alligator but there are ways to estimate its age based on the size.

“We estimate it was probably between 14 feet to 14 and a half feet,” he said.

Matherly said the alligator was known to stay around the area of Greens Old Mill Road.

“Several people know about him and they would stop and watch him. People took pictures of him. A lot of the local people around that area were upset. They had been riding by for years and years,” Matherly said, adding several people have asked him what happened to the alligator.

“In the normal course of the investigation, we were able to determine the head was in the possession of Mr. Powell. So he was charged with possession of alligator parts,” Matherly said. “And he was hunting out of season.”

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Maj. Charles Gibbons was with the Wadley Police Department in the 1970’s and said he used to hear people talking about the alligator.

“Like in ’76, ’77,” he said.

“I would go through there periodically and I would see it,” Gibbons said. “The last time I saw it was like 2007. The last time I saw it, it was huge.”

“The guy that’s accused said he saw the alligator and it had been shot,” said Joe Miller, a local resident. “He said he didn’t do it.”

Miller said the alligator would lie out in the spill way of Greens Old Mill Pond.

“He liked to sun on a particular sandbar,” Miller said.

The charges against Powell are misdemeanors, Matherly said.



Easterlin offers fencing class in Louisville

By Sabrina Littleton
Intern

Already skilled in the martial art of Tang Soo Do, Bill Easterlin was looking for something else to test his abilities and challenge himself. That something else is fencing.

“I was looking for a new skill. It looked like an interesting sport,” Easterlin said.

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Easterlin has been taking fencing lessons at the Augusta Fencing Club for the past two and a half years. When Rodney Cobb and fellow fencing student, Bill Snider, opened a karate studio in Louisville, the idea for a fencing class was born.

“We thought we could use the additional space in the studio for the class,” Easterlin said.

Fencing students of Easterlin will first learn the basics and rules of foil fencing, which is Easterlin’s style and what he will be teaching. There are three types of fencing styles; foil, epee and saber. In foil fencing, the target area is the torso; and, the competitors make contact with the blunt tip of the foil, or sword-like weapon. With epee fencing, the target is the body. Again, the tip of the foil is used to make contact. In saber fencing, the body is targeted and participants make contact with the entire edge of the blade, which is similar to a military sword and has a different shape from that of a foil.

The space where fencing takes place is within a narrowly-defined court, which is 5 feet by 50 feet. If a participant steps outside the court, the match starts over but there are no penalties.

Fencing has different levels of experience. The highest is the Olympic level, which is attained after years of training. The ranking then descends into A, B, C, D, E and unranked.

Easterlin is currently unranked but is dedicated to the sport and plans to teach his students all he knows.

“You test yourself at competitions. The more points you get at competitions, the sooner you can move up in ranking,” Easterlin said.

The scoring system of fencing is that the first competitor to earn 15 points wins the match, which generally takes about 15 minutes. In foil fencing, a point is earned only when the foil makes contact with the torso. The goal is to touch the opponent’s torso first.

One of Easterlin’s favorite things about fencing is the competitive nature of it.

“It’s very gentlemanly competition. A lot like tennis,” he said.

In fencing competitions, participants compete in an open format where men and women of all ages compete together.

“I once fenced against a 70-year-old,” Easterlin said.

So far, only three or four people have enrolled in Easterlin’s fencing class, which is held for one hour in the back of the karate studio at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays. Fencing jackets, foils and masks are available to students.

Easterlin hopes to have high school students show interest in the class.

“Lots of colleges have fencing clubs. This will give high school students some exposure to what’s in college,” he said.

The preferred starting age for those who wish to enroll is around 12 years old.

Easterlin hopes to take his fencing students out into the community later to display their skills at different events.

“Not a lot of people know about fencing, so it’s up to me and the students to show what this is,” Easterlin said.

Easterlin is eager to increase enrollment and get started.

“Come on out and try it. It’s an interesting thing,” Easterlin said.

People interested in enrollment may call Bill Easterlin at (478) 625-2000 or Bill Snider at (478) 625-9633.



Child killed when father wrecks car running from officer

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Staff writer Bond was set Monday, Nov. 9, in a case against Miller Lee Smith Jr., 33, of Augusta. Smith faces a total of 14 counts in the incident, which ended in an accident that caused the death of a child, 2-year-old Alike Milan Smith.

Judge Lenora Hutchinson set Smith’s bond at $140,000 property bond or a $70,000 cash bond.

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A Jefferson County deputy attempted to stop Smith Friday, Nov. 6, about 8:30 p.m. after observing Smith driving erratically in a residential area outside Louisville.

“As the deputy approached the vehicle, the driver attempted to exit his vehicle, changed his mind and sped away,” said a JCSO spokesman in a press release.

The deputy pursued the vehicle before losing sight of it several minutes later on Middleground Road.

“Deputies continued to search for the suspect vehicle and located it overturned in the woods approximately five miles outside of Louisville,” the spokesman stated.

An adult male, who evidently had been a passenger in the vehicle, was standing beside the vehicle and told deputies the driver had run from the scene, adding there were two children in the vehicle.

Deputies immediately began a search of the area and found the 2-year-old on the ground beside the vehicle. A 3-year-old male, whose identity has not been released by law enforcement, was found about 40 feet from the vehicle.

“Deputies administered first aid until EMS personnel arrived,” the spokesman stated.

The 2-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene. The boy was air lifted to an Augusta hospital, he said.

Deputies requested tracking dog assistance from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office to search for the driver. Smith was taken into custody after a brief struggle in a wooded area less than a mile from the accident scene around 11:30 p.m., the spokesman stated.

Smith and the adult passenger were treated at Jefferson Hospital. The passenger was released without charge.

Smith has been charged with one count each of vehicular homicide, serious injury by vehicle, hit and run/failure to render aid, reckless driving, DUI, fleeing and attempting to elude, failure to maintain lane and driving while unlicensed. He was also charged with two counts each of obstruction of an officer, DUI/child endangerment and child restraint violation.

Smith is also being held for Richmond County Sheriff’s Office on an outstanding warrant, the spokesman stated.

The spokesman also stated the 2-year-old was transported to the GBI Crime Lab in Augusta for an autopsy. The Georgia State Patrol accident reconstruction team is assisting in the investigation, he stated.

Funeral services for Alike Smith will be held Saturday, Nov. 14, at 2 p.m. at the Louisville Church of God and Spring Bethel Society Cemetery.




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