Crime & Courts

Two get prison terms for counterfeit checks

Two Midlands men are going to prison for passing counterfeit commercial checks.

Keith Johnson of Irmo and Saleem Webb of Columbia obtained more than $6,000 from merchants, officials at the U.S. Attorney's office said Monday.

Johnson was sentenced to 27 months in prison, and Webb, to eight months in prison.

- Tim Flach

Beating suspects being held

Two suspects in a fatal beating are in custody after turning themselves in to Columbia police over the weekend.

Robin Gray-Reese, 39, surrendered late Friday, and Henry Gray, 38, did likewise Saturday, police said.

Both face charges in connection with the death of Kenneth Mack after a fight Feb. 13 in the 1500 block of Garden Plaza.

- Tim Flach

Woman killed with sword; son charged

A Georgetown man killed his mother with a sword after the two argued in the home they shared, police said.

Laura Ferrante, 51, was cut several times late Sunday with the sword. The fatal wound was a large slash to her neck and head, authorities said.

A neighbor called police after Ferrante's adult daughter found her bleeding on the floor and ran to a neighbor's home, saying her brother had driven away, said Georgetown County Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Neil Johnson.

An officer saw the car and pulled over Jonathan Maurice White, 29, who was arrested and charged with murder, Johnson said.

Johnson wouldn't say what type of sword was used to kill Ferrante, adding investigators haven't determined what the mother and son were arguing about.

White was in jail awaiting a bond hearing.

A neighbor said Ferrante had been struggling with her son for years, trying to help him keep a job and helping him out of scrapes with law enforcement.

"He seemed to be in trouble all the time," said James Vereen, who lives several doors down.

- The Associated Press

Three charged with dog fighting

MCCONNELLS - Three men have been arrested on dog-fighting charges.

The Herald of Rock Hill reported Monday that three McConnells men were arrested after officers found what appeared to be a dog-fighting pit behind their home.

York County sheriff's Lt. Mike Baker says deputies found 13 pit bulls in the backyard of the home. Baker says at least one of the animals has injuries consistent with fighting. The dogs were taken into custody by county animal control officials.

Thirty-nine-year-old Anthoni Orr, 74-year-old George Burris and 29-year-old Deon Burris are charged with animal fighting and baiting.

- The Associated Press

Hammond, Gilbert choruses on TV show

Two Midlands high school choruses will be featured in a fundraising broadcast March 8.

Hammond School and Gilbert High are among 10 S.C. schools to appear on "Celebrate America" on ETV.

The two-hour event, which begins at 7 p.m., will feature patriotic and other selections arranged by national composer Tim Janis.

Pledges will be solicited for ETV during the broadcast, and the participating schools will earn funds to buy sheet music for their programs.

A 20-second preview clip can be found online at

- Sarah Peterman

Planning Commission post is available

Richland County Council is accepting applications for a vacancy on the Richland County Planning Commission.

The deadline is today.

The nine-member commission reviews development proposals and makes policy recommendations to County Council. Members must live in unincorporated areas.

Applications are available at or by calling (803) 576-2176.

Recent vacancies have generated lots of candidates.

- Dawn Hinshaw