The News Courier in Athens, Alabama


December 30, 2012

The Top 12 of 2012



Several high-profile cases were wrapped up this year as Limestone County judges prescribed sentencing for a variety of crimes.

In March, 27-year-old Joshua Ray Cowan of Elkmont was sentenced to 75 years for his role in a home invasion, robbery and beating of Tanner couple Shirley and Charlotte Haney. He also received 10 years for third-degree burglary and 40 years for two counts of second-degree kidnapping, which will be served concurrently.

In May, Judge James Woodroof Jr. sentenced 58-year-old evangelist Austin Nichols Jr. of Athens to three consecutive 30-year sentences for the rape of his 14-year-old granddaughter.

Woodroof also ordered the victim to attend counseling and for Nichols to pay the costs associated with it. Nichols will also have to register as a convicted sex offender.

In September, Woodroof sentenced an Athens mother to life in prison for the sexual abuse and torture of her 6-year-old daughter. Suzanne Bennison, 45, was ordered to serve two concurrent life terms on the two felony charges. She received a life sentence because she had two prior felony convictions.

A 43-year-old woman convicted of murdering her lover was sentenced to life in prison on Oct. 11. Lisa Mechelle Pate of Arab was convicted in August of killing 59-year-old James Miller of Athens.

They met and began an affair while working at Redstone Arsenal for the Army Corp of Engineers. Miller was shot three times at his north Jefferson Street home, reportedly after an argument with Pate.

Lastly, a 39-year-old Ardmore man was sentenced earlier this month to 50 years in prison in the 2009 shooting death of his nephew.

Woodroof, in his sentencing of Keith George, called his actions on the night of March 16, 2009, “intentional, aggressive and heinous.”

George argued that he shot 26-year-old Rusty George in self-defense.

Text Only
Top Local News
Today's Local Feature
State and Nation
Local Sports
Calendar of Events
  • Limestone Ledger 7/31/14

    Walking Horse Show

    The third annual Sam Gibbons Walking Horse Show has been rescheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at the Sheriff's Rodeo Arena. More information: Sandy Thompson 256-771-7578.

    July 31, 2014

  • Church Bulletin 7/31/14
Business Marquee
Weather Radar

Which foreign crisis is the biggest threat to the security of the United States?

None of the above
     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.