The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

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December 30, 2012

The Top 12 of 2012

(Continued)

Sentencings

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.

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    FRIDAY
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