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macon.com Midday Update: Ga. voter registration deadline looms; Benoit's doctor pleads not guilty in prescription drug case; Violent, property crime declined in '07

Georgians who haven't registered to vote and want to cast a ballot in the state's July 15 primary have one week left. The registration deadline is June 16.

If you've already registered but have moved, you should contact your county registrar's office to see if your information needs to be updated.

Voter registration forms can be obtained online on the Georgia Secretary of State's Web site. You can find mail-in registration forms at your public library, public school, military recruitment center or county government office. Registration also is offered for those applying for or renewing a driver's license.

Absentee voting in the primary began on June 2.

Associated Press

Benoit's doctor pleads not guilty in prescription drug case

The personal doctor to a pro wrestler who killed himself, his wife and their 7-year-old son last year has pleaded not guilty to a new 175-count indictment that charges him with conspiracy and improperly dispensing drugs.

Dr. Phil Astin did not attend Monday's brief hearing in federal court in Atlanta. His attorney entered the plea on his behalf. The court granted Astin's request not to appear.

In a statement, the attorney says Astin is not a criminal.

The May 29th indictment replaces a seven-count indictment last July and involves 17 additional patients. Astin was a doctor for wrestler Chris Benoit.

Authorities say Benoit strangled his wife and son, then hanged himself in their Fayetteville home in June 2007.

Associated Press

Violent and property crime declined in 2007

Violent and property crime declined in 2007Both violent and property crimes declined in 2007 from the previous year, the FBI reported Monday.

In preliminary figures for crimes reported to police, the bureau said the number of violent crimes declined by 1.4 percent from 2006, reversing two years of rising violent crime numbers. Violent crime had climbed 1.9 percent in 2006 and 2.3 percent in 2005, alarming federal and local officials.

Property crimes were down 2.1 percent last year from the previous year, the largest drop in the last four years.

"One preliminary report does not make a trend, but it's going the way we want it to go," said FBI spokesman Richard Kolko.

The largest declines were in vehicle theft, down 8.9 percent and in rape, down 4.3 percent and murder, down 2.7 percent.

The crime trends were not uniform. Murders, for instance, were down in cities of more than 250,000, including an enormous 9.8 percent drop in cities of more than a million residents. But murders rose in some small cities - up 3.7 percent in cities of 50,000 to 100,000, up 1.9 percent in cities of 100,000 to 250,000, and up 1.8 percent in cities under 10,000. Historically, murder trends have begun in the largest cities and moved over several years to smaller ones.

Associated Press

WHAT'S COMING UP ON MACON.COM

— Hundreds of bicyclists are riding into Macon today as part of a weeklong ride across Georgia. We'll tell you about their journey, which will end this weekend at the beach.

— State Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine is in Macon today to get an update on how things are progressing after the Mother's Day tornadoes. We'll let you know how his visit goes.

VISIT US AGAIN SOON

We invite you to check out our Web site again tomorrow for the Midday Update. Monday through Friday, Online Editor Beth MacFadyen will bring you timely information about what Telegraph staffers are working on, plus news we think you need to know immediately. Send feedback to bmacfadyen@macon.com

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