Man Dies at Home, Following Wreck

A Sandy Springs community resident’s death has been ruled as caused by a wreck one week ago. Laurens County Coroner Nick Nichols said that 49-year-old Kevin Fulmer of 4411 Highway 49, Laurens died Thursday, March 23rd, the day after he had a wreck in his pickup. Nichols said that Mr. Fulmer was driving his Ford Ranger on Fleming Mill Road last Wednesday when it struck a tree that had fallen into the road. He was transported to Greenwood for emergency room treatment, and later released. Nichols said that a family member found Kevin Fulmer dead inside his home last Saturday.

After an autopsy was conducted, Nichols today said that cause of death for Kevin Fulmer was blunt force trauma to the abdomen.

Citizens Lifesaving Award

A “Citizens Lifesaving Award” was presented at last night’s Laurens County Council meeting. Sheriff Don Reynolds made the presentation to the Crain family of Clinton for their efforts in finding the missing 12-year-old girl, Zoe Carles.

Sheriff Reynolds said that Don, Denise, and Cheyenne Crain were traveling near a wooded area outside Clinton Saturday when they spotted something moving in the woods, and Cheyenne spotted Zoe’s jacket. Denise Crain said “We were just riding by, and we spotted her.” Her husband added that Zoe had spent 44 hours in the woods. During council comments, all council members present thanked those that helped to bring Zoe home, including the Crain family, volunteers from the community, and the Sheriff’s Office.

District 56 Updated on ZF Apprenticeship

Mr. Robbie Ellis, Apprenticeship Supervisor at ZF Transmissions was on hand for Monday’s meeting of the Laurens County School District 56 Board of Trustees to update the board on the apprenticeship partnership with District 56.

ZF approached both Districts 55 and 56 about two years ago about an apprenticeship program.  Clinton High School Principal Maureen Tiller told the board that during the past two years the program has been developed and refined.  The path to the apprenticeship program has now become much better defined.

Two recent Clinton High graduates who are a part of the apprenticeship program accompanied Mr. Ellis to describe their experience with the program.  Mr. Ellis pointed out that there are currently 7 graduates in the program with 4 of them coming from Clinton High School.  The students are pursuing Associate Degrees though Piedmont Technical College in Mechatronics.  Mr. Ellis pointed out that upon completion of the program, ZF was prepared to offer them a position with a STARTING salary of approximately $65,000 per year.

The apprenticeship program continues to grow and is available at both Clinton High School and Laurens District High School.

Welcome Home, Judge Culbertson

Prosecution of a Burglary case began yesterday in Laurens County General Sessions Criminal Court. A jury was picked Monday to hear the charge against 38-year-old Stephen Fincher of Tiger Lane, Laurens. He is accused of breaking into two homes in March of 2016.

The trial is being conducted by Judge Ben Culbertson of Georgetown. This is the first time for Culbertson, a native of Laurens, to preside over court back in his home town in some 7 years on the bench.

In another courtroom at Hillcrest Square this week, Judge Frank R. Addy Jr. of Greenwood is hearing guilty pleas. Many were sentenced in the first two days of court.

A man arrested in January of 2014, following a shooting outside Laurens,  was sentenced to seven years in the State Department of Corrections Monday after a plea bargain. Terrance Glenn Bishop of Westcliff Drive, Laurens, was arrested at the age of 30 and charged with two counts of Attempted Murder and other firearms violations for allegedly firing into a dwelling on Byars Road, Laurens. Two sentences were issued to run concurrent for the seven years. He is being given credit for 27 months already spent in jail, pending trail.

22-year-old Bobby Sue Black of Hix Herman Road, Waterloo was arrested January 23rd of this year on a charge of Trafficking Methamphetamine. She was accused of having 40 grams of meth in her possession. She pled yesterday to Distribution of Methamphetamine and was sentenced to 3 years, and given credit for the 65 days she’s been in jail since her arrest. She is to be released to a half-way house after serving her time.

Traffic Stop Leads to Drug Distribution Charge

A traffic stop in the overnight led to Drug charges in Upper Laurens County yesterday. 39-year-old Henry Earl Burnside Jr. of 7175 Allen Bridge Road, Fountain Inn is now charged with Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute. Sheriff’s Deputy Morgan issued a ticket charging Burnside with Failure to Yield on Hunts Bridge Road and Highway 14 at 16 minutes after midnight Tuesday morning. A warrant was served later yesterday alleging Mr. Burnside with the possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. With cash or surety bonds totaling $15,232, Henry Earl Burnside Jr. remained in the Laurens County Detention Center this morning.

19 + 14 = Jail

A sex act in Clinton just over a month ago was alleged with the arrest of a Greenwood County resident last night. Clinton Public Safety Tuesday delivered 19-year-old A’Darius Alexander Taylor of Edgewood Circle, Ninety-Six to the Laurens County Detention Center overnight, charged with Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor – 2nd Degree. A warrant states that on February 17, 2017 at age 19, the defendant engaged in sexual battery by means of fellatio with the victim, who was 14 years old. This allegedly occurred at an address in Clinton. A’Darius Taylor was being held, pending a bond hearing.

Absconding Supervision in Washington State

Moving to the other side of the country without permission from her probation agent was alleged with an arrest yesterday by South Carolina Department of Pardon, Probation and Parole. 37-year-old Amber Geneva Hillyard of 184 Hillyard Drive, Gray Court was charged with Violation of Probation. She is accused of failing to report as instructed on August 15th, 2016 and of moving to an unknown location in Washington State, thereby absconding supervision. She is also accused of failure to pay required fees and failure to attend substance abuse counseling. With a cash or surety bond set at $35,000, Amber Geneva Hillyard remained in the Laurens County Detention Center today.

Drug Trafficking on North Harper

A Laurens man was charged with Drug Trafficking yesterday following his arrest by Laurens City Police. 29-year-old Swann O’Bryant Woodruff of 753 West Main, Laurens was served with a warrant accusing him of Trafficking Cocaine. The warrant states that an investigation by Officer Robert Napier indicates that Mr. Woodruff had 17.7 grams of crack cocaine in his possession yesterday on North Harper Street in Laurens. During arraignment yesterday, bond was denied. Swann O’Bryant Woodruff remained in the Laurens County Detention Center today.

What to Do When You Itch?!!!

When you itch, you’ve got to do something! Laurens Police were summoned to the Family Dollar on South Harper Street around 5:00 Monday afternoon, where an employee reported a shoplifting. The clerk claimed that a woman came into the store and entered the health and beauty aid section. There, she allegedly took a can of anti-itch spray, and sprayed it on herself, then put the cap back on and left it in another part of the store. A video recording reportedly captured the crime. The female suspect was not initially located to be charged.

Laurens County Slips from #1 in SC Traffic Fatalities

A three-month stretch of unusually high fatal traffic accidents in Laurens County appears to have finally ended. We’ve had a respite from fatal wrecks in recent weeks. As a result, Laurens County has now dropped from 1st to 2nd place in the state ranking of fatalities, holding with 12. The weekly report on traffic released yesterday by the state Department of Public Safety shows Charleston County, with a much larger population, has now reached 13 fatalities for 2017, as of midnight Sunday night.

Behind Laurens County, tied for the infamous #3 position, are Anderson, Greenville and Lexington Counties, each with 10 fatalities for this year.

The new statistics follow 7 fatalities on South Carolina highways this past weekend. As of midnight March 26th, the statewide total of deaths for 2017 had reached 208 traffic fatalities. These included 156 motor vehicle occupants, 29 pedestrians, 15 on motorcycles and 4 on bicycles.

Of other neighboring counties, Spartanburg has 5, Newberry has 3, Greenwood and Saluda have 2; while Abbeville and Union Counties have 1.

Three South Carolina counties had no fatalities through Sunday at midnight. These are Fairfield, Marlboro and McCormick.

District 55 Trustees Updated on Referendum Committee

School Superintendent Dr. Stephen Peters last night provided the District 55 School Board with information from the district’s Facilities Projects Advisory Committee meeting that was held last Thursday. He reported that retired Laurens County Administrator Ernie Segars was elected as Chair of the Committee. Elected Vice-Chair was Terry Varner, who is a retired mechanical engineer. Peters said Varner has had experience in designing and renovating high schools, and is now a local cattle farmer.

Dr. Peters said the 53-member committee consists of a mixture of residents for and against the referendum, district 55 teachers and employees, parents of children who attend District 55 schools and other interested community residents. Peters noted that people attending last week’s organizational meeting were asked to sign up for various sub-committees. These include committees on curriculum, financial impact, middle schools, property location and public relations. He said that when each sub-committee meets they will a chair and vice-chair of the subcommittees will be elected, and they are free to schedule their own meetings, with the entire committee meeting monthly.

District 56 Excellent in Financial Stability

The District 56 School Board last night learned it has received excellent scores in risk assessment. The South Carolina Department of Education serves as the pass-through agency for federal grants and other federal funds destined for school districts in South Carolina.  As such, they are required to assess the risk of each school district in the state related to financial health and ability to complete programs for which grants have been awarded.

A memo received this month from Melissa A. Myers, Director of the Office of Auditing Services indicated that District 56 scores among the best of the school districts in South Carolina. The audit looked at the district’s financial reporting, turnover of key personnel, compliance with funded programs, fiscal compliance, financial stability, overall performance and other material factors.  Scores were developed for each category with a lower score being good and a high score bad.

A score of 18 or less indicated low risk, 19 through 28 medium risk and a score of 29 or more high risk.  Laurens County School District 56 scored 12.  Dr. David O’Shields told board members that in his conversation with SC Department of Education personnel he learned that the lowest scoring district in the state scored a 9 and one district scored 11.  The score of 12, then, was one of the lowest (or best) scores in the state.

This score is to be considered when deciding which district will be awarded grants to fund special programs in the district.  With the low risk assessment, District 56 has positioned itself to be seen in a favorable light in competitive grant situations.

Sex with Minor Saturday

Sex with a minor this past Saturday was alleged in a warrant served by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office yesterday. 18-year-old Antwain Javonte Hill of 21 Copeland Street, Laurens was charged with Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor, aged 11 to 14, 2nd Degree. In the warrant, Investigator Michael Polson states that on March 25th one Antwain Javonte Hill engaged in sexual battery by having sexual intercourse with a victim, that victim being 12-years-old. Antwain Javonte Hill was being held overnight, pending booking and arraignment.

Sentence for Burglary, Larceny

Laurens County General Sessions Court began another week of court yesterday, including handling one defendant who reportedly pled in some six cases involving charges of Burglary and Grand Larceny. Records indicate that 22-year-old Shavario Beontray Watts of 109 Spring Street, Laurens was sentenced to five years in the state Department of Corrections, sentenced under provisions of the Youthful Offenders Act. Shavario Beyontray Watts is now being held in the Laurens County Detention Center, pending his transfer to the South Carolina Department of Corrections.

1st Degree Domestic Assault

Laurens City Police yesterday charged a local resident with 1st Degree Domestic Assault, alleging an attack on his wife between last Wednesday and Sunday. 26-year-old Ronnie Lee Leopard of 220 Jones Street, Laurens was initially held for charges Sunday night. Yesterday he was served with a warrant charging him with Domestic Violence 1st Degree. It cites the investigation of Officer Billy Sellers as indicating that Ronnie Lee Leopard committed Domestic Violence in the 1st Degree on March 22nd. He allegedly struck his wife about the face and body, leaving physical manifestation of injury. The defendant allegedly placed the victim in reasonable fear for her life as the assault occurred after Mr. Leopard had pointed a handgun at her face and instilled fear of death on a separate occurrence approximately two weeks prior. The assault reportedly occurred at the residence on Jones Street.  With a cash or surety bond set at $100,000, Ronnie Lee Leopard remained in the Laurens County Detention Center this morning.

3rd Degree Domestic Assault

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office yesterday had an assault charge from last fall for 28-year-old Ketavis Neely of 102 Sydney Lane, Gray Court. He was charged with Assault and Battery 3rd Degree, in a warrant that cites the investigation of Officer Rushing. It alleges that on November 16, 2016 in

Laurens County, one Ketavis Neely did intentionally commit battery upon the victim by punching him in the face with a closed fist. Ketavis Neely was held overnight, pending arraignment.

Arrest Alleges 12 ½ Year Old Crime

A Greenville man was booked by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office yesterday regarding an alleged crime 12 ½ years ago here in Laurens County. 44-year-old Mark Anthony Miller of 122 McKenna Circle, Greenville was charged with Breach of Trust in a warrant from 2014. In that warrant, then Sheriff’s Sgt. M.B. Blackmon stated under oath that on September 11, 2004 the defendant received a 1998 Chevrolet Malibu valued at approximately $6,000 in trust and then appropriated the vehicle to his own use. This was allegedly with the fraudulent intent to deprive the owner, a Gray Court woman. Mark Antony Miller was being held overnight, pending a bond hearing into the 12 ½ -year-old case.

Crack Cocaine Possession with Intent to Distribute

Crack Cocaine Possession with intent to Distribute was alleged following a Laurens City Police arrest early Friday morning. 28-year-old Billy Lee Tribble Jr. of 11 Raintree Drive, Laurens was charged with Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute, Possession with Intent near a School and Simple Possession of Marijuana.

Warrants citing an investigation by Sgt. Charles Simmons state that on March 24th Billie Lee Tribble Jr. was in possession of 7.1 grams of crack cocaine, packaged in small, separate baggies which is common packaging for sale. This was allegedly in Apartment 71 at 218 Spring Street in Laurens, which is within a half mile of Laurens Primary School. The third warrant states that the defendant was also in possession of 12.8 grams of marijuana at the 218 Spring Street Apartment Friday.

Billy Lee Tribble Jr. was released Saturday morning on cash or surety bonds totaling $65,615.

Laurens Police arrested a second person at the same Spring Street apartment early Friday. 29-year-old Lutavious Denard Elmore of 131 Williams Street, Laurens was issued tickets by Officer Will Van Pelt III that charged him with Trespassing and Simple Possession of Marijuana at 24 minutes after midnight Friday. Mr. Elmore was released Friday morning on personal recognizance bonds totaling $1,080.

Missing Girl Taken Home Saturday

The 12-year-old girl who went missing last Thursday night from her home near Clinton was found in a wooded area a mile or so from home Saturday. The Sheriff’s Office had emergency responders searching the area on foot, along with bloodhounds and a SLED air search Friday morning. After later determining that it was more likely a run-away situation, the search was scaled back. .As family and friends continued looking Saturday, the missing girl was found and reunited with her family.

1st Degree Assault March 15th

A 1st Degree Assault outside Clinton on March 15th was alleged with the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office arrest of a Fountain Inn man Friday. 23-year-old Cody James Miller of 300 Shady Pines Court, Fountain Inn was charged with 1st Degree Assault and Battery, 2nd Degree Burglary and with Trespassing.

Deputy Dwayne Richey alleges that on March 15th Cody James Miller intentionally committed battery upon the victim by striking her several times in the face. Rickey states the victim was able to get away from the subject, but was then caught in the parking lot and drug back into the residence by her hair. The 1st Degree Assault warrant states that the victim’s shirt was ripped in the process and the act was deemed aggravated in that he started punching holes in the wall and took her cell phone, preventing her from calling 911.

The Burglary warrant states that on March 15th Miller entered an apartment in a building at an address on Belmont Stakes, Clinton without consent and with intent to commit a crime therein. It states the defendant was on trespass notice from the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office as well as under a court order to stay away from the victim and the property.

The warrant charging Trespass states that on March 15th Miller trespassed on another person’s property after being issued a no-trespass notice by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office.

No bond was granted on any of the three charges. Cody James Miller remained in the Laurens County Detention Center this morning.