Showing posts with label crimecourts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label crimecourts. Show all posts

The guy who killed my brother

The Blogland may be down for a few days (but given the slowdown in writing since I started the new job, that may not be as unusual as it might've once been) as I'll be in court in Charleston this week.

Many of you have asked about the status of the case regarding Brandon Ancrum, who was charged with reckless homicide in the death of my brother back in July 2010. Well, that's why I'm going to be in court - the case is going to trial.

The case has moved forward with a very hands-on treatment by the Solicitor's Office. Some of the delay was due to the need to move some very time-sensitive major cases forward (let's face it, nothing in this case is changing) - moves which my family, myself included, endorsed.

Since getting out on bond, Mr. Ancrum hasn't let life slow him down, as evidenced by two subsequent traffic-related convictions. Apparently the requirement to turn in his driver's license and stay under house arrest didn't last long.

Let's hope the Lowcountry streets are a little safer after this week.






S.C. Prison cell phone hit survivor sues cell phone companies


For years, Robert Johnson was a prison Captain responsible for keeping contraband out of Lee Correctional Institution, a maximum security facility in Lee County. It's these efforts which authorities believed resulted in a hit being put out on him, resulting in someone bursting into his home and shooting him six times in 2010.

Investigators also believed the hit was ordered from inside the prison by an inmate using an illegal cell phone.

Johnson survived the shooting and no suspects have been identified in the case. He retired a year later and is now suing twenty cell phone companies, alleging they should have done more to block signals from inside the prison.

Johnson's experience isn't the only one. According to the Washington Post, it's not the first time a hit was ordered from prison:

Guest article: John Schafer - "Grandparents' rights advancing in Legislature - at last"

Today's guest article was written by John Schafer, a Pickens County resident and Vietnam-era veteran who heads us the Grandparents Rights Association of South Carolina. He is one of the most-recognized activists on Family Court and DSS reforms related to the rights of grandparents and other close relatives in South Carolina:

As a concerned grandparent and citizen, I have been working in the family rights movement for about five years, working to protect the rights of family members to play roles in the lives of their relatives. In many states, including South Carolina, grandparents have few legal rights and can be left unable to be involved in the lives of their grandchildren, in spite of considerable research which shows that involvement can make a vital difference in the lives of children. While there has been little progress in our state on these issues, the one bright spot where real progress was made was when Governor Mark Sanford signed regarding grandparents’ visitation rights bill into law back in 2010 (the full text of the law can be seen on this page: http://grasc.org/news/news.html).

Since then, we have been working to do more to strengthen Grandparents rights and give them more opportunities to make a difference - with lots of encouragement but little result until recently.

Family Court races going down to the wire


Several judicial races are going down to the wire, with candidates hustling for support before legislators vote to fill the seats at noon tomorrow.

The Blogland did Q&A interviews with two candidates still in the running: Kelly Pope, who is seeking Family Court At-Large Seat 1, and Melissa Emery, who is seeking Family Court At-Large Seat 5. We appreciate their willingness to answer questions to help enlighten.

Last week, the Blogland raised questions about a Family Court candidate who has no courtroom experience, but still wants to be elected to a Family Court seat:

While candidates are withdrawing from a number of formerly-contested judicial races as they find themselves short of the votes needed to win election to seats, Frierson is still hanging in the race, meaning she has likely attracted some support - but we're not sure why.

If Frierson wanted to serve as a judge badly enough, especially in a focused post such as a Family Court judge, it would seem logical that she would have sought to add practical courtroom experience, especially with domestic issues, to her resume before seeking this post. Hopefully she will address this lack of experience and try again in the future - but this is too important a post for on-the-job training.voting or know someone who is.

All three articles should make for good reading - especially if you're one of those voting, or know someone who is.

Kelly Pope, Family Court candidate - Seat One

As part of the Blogland's efforts to open up the state's judicial election process for people to see, judicial candidates are invited to answer questions about their background. Thus far, two candidates for this year's judicial elections have taken questions from the Blogland: Family Court candidate Melissa Emery and Circuit Court candidate Maite Murphy.

Now, we’d like for our readers to meet Kelly Pope, who is seeking At-Large Judge seat #1 in the Family Court:

Family Court candidate lacks courtroom experience

In the race for the First At-Large seat on the Family Court, two candidates are competing for the job: Rosalyn Frierson from Columbia and Kelly Pope from Spartanburg.

The Report of Candidate Qualifications released by the Judicial Merit Selection Committee raised questions about Frierson's experience. According to the report, Frierson reported no time in state or federal courtrooms and no time with practicing family law - but in spite of this, she still wants to preside over courtrooms in Family Court. 

Frierson explains her experience as "less conventional":

I have worked as an attorney during my 20 year legal career in what may be viewed as a less conventional path. I have worked with practicing attorneys and was married to an attorney for many years who practiced in domestic law. I have seen the practicing side of an attorney from that secondary view. I believe that I have the skills required of a judge.

We're sure there are lots of cops, legal clerks and court reporters who have "secondary views" as well, but you don't see them expecting to become judges.

Melissa Emery, Family Court candidate - Seat Five

In the first few weeks of this year's legislative session, this race to fill a number of state judicial seats will be at the top of the agenda of our state’s legislators. 

We at the Blogland believe our state’s judicial selection process is too hidden from the public eye, and that a little transparency is long overdue. To help shed a little light on this somewhat-shadowy process for the benefit of our readers, we ask those seeking upcoming judicial seats to answer a few questions - and appreciate those who respond.

Melissa Emery, a Pee Dee native and an attorney from Myrtle Beach, is seeking the Seat Five At-Large Family Court seat. The first in her family to get through college, she’s a proud Francis Marion alum who is nearing her tenth year as a member of its board. A graduate of USC Law School, Ms. Emery has been practicing law for eighteen years, with much of her practice time spent in family law.

Now, we’d like for our readers to meet Ms. Emery:

Try Thug Control, not Gun Control

Two recent Rasmussen polls suggest that gun control advocates are going beyond the limits of popular support. While the first survey found that 74 percent of respondents agreed with the following statement: "Does the U.S. Constitution guarantee the right of an average citizen to own a gun?", the second one presented an even bigger question for those who think that passing laws is the answer to reducing gun violent. In that survey, 57 percent of respondents believed that there should be a greater emphasis on enforcing current laws over passing new ones.

When we see that, we can't help but think about websites like Charleston Thug Life, which recently ran this posting showing a collection of photos taken from Facebook pages of local hoodlums, some of whom are clearly underage, carrying weapons - including the photo shown on the right. This site has profiled many instances of convicted felons who committed crimes with weapons they weren't supposed to have in the first place and shown how, time and time again, dangerous criminals get light sentences and dropped charges, allowing them to run the streets and keep doing more of what they'd been doing.

Want to reduce the number of crimes committed by those with guns? It would seem logical that locking up the ones who commit them would be a good first step. 

Trooper Marvin Titus: End of watch, 11/20/1991

As Thanksgiving approaches, it's time to talk about what we're thankful for.

One of those things is our public safety officials, who look at places and situations we wouldn't  go into for a million bucks - and go there for a lot less. One of those heroes is State Trooper Marvin Titus. 

Twenty-one years ago today, Trooper Titus died in the line of duty in Bamberg County. He was shot three times with his own weapon and killed after chasing a man in a stolen car into a wooded area near the town of Denmark. The suspect was apprehended later in the night and sentenced to life in prison.

Titus is survived by his parents and eight siblings.



  • Marvin Leroy Titus' name has been engraved at the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, DC. His name can be located on panel 8, E -18. 

  • A plaque bearing Marvin Leroy Titus' name is displayed at the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame in Columbia.

Social Media increasingly being used as evidence


As if we haven't seen enough written about the need to exercise caution about what is being said in social media, another word of warning comes from Allen Smith, who recently interviewed David Osterman, a New Jersey attorney specializing in labor and human resources issues for a recent story in the Society for Human Resource Management website

While this news that social media is impacting what takes place in courtrooms probably isn't surprising to many, the details of the story bear attention in the article, Smith warns readers that:

"Social media has filtered into courtrooms, transforming jury selection; questioning of witnesses; interactions between jurors, lawyers and judges; and evidence. And employment litigation has been affected ..."

In the story, Osterman details how social media is being used to do advance research for jurors and witnesses, as well as how social media commentary is qualified as evidence in the courtroom. For those who want to protect their company from legal exposure or prepare a strong defense for cases that may go to trial, this story makes for good reading.

Charleston Thug Life has a posse?


The Blogland is a big fan of Charleston Thug Life - a website that has exposed the social media lives of hoodlums in the South Carolina Lowcountry, as well as those using illegal smartphones to communicate from prison. We've always enjoyed reading the website and occasionally linking to some of their research.

Their efforts have generated a lot of publicity. Dot Scott, the head of the Charleston NAACP (whose boycott of South Carolina doesn't seem to be working), accused the website of "concentrating just on these black guys" - but we're not buying it. Nor do we buy the charge by Chris Haire of the liberal Charleston City Paper that the website engages in "in-your-face race baiting" that is "is festering sore of libel and making an ass-out-of-you-and-me assumptions."

When one posts records from court websites showing arrests and convictions, it's not assumptions and it's not libel. 

One City Paper reader responded to Haire, defining the website as "like peopleofwalmart.com, but with guns...and in front of the bathroom mirror instead of in the checkout lane." That description fits rather well.

However, it seems others are taking the website more seriously. According to the Holy City Sinner website:

Lights in the darkness

While attending the GOP convention in Tampa last week was one of the biggest highlights in years of politics, tragedy occurred close to home when I learned a daughter of a close friend and a friend of hers were found murdered in the Francis Marion National Forest near Moncks Corner.

I had known Dana since elementary school and had seen her grow up, starting college and putting her adult life together. It was hard to imagine who'd want to do this, much less who would take the effort to leave their bodies about ten miles apart from each other and torch her car, and it was difficult to see her family having to endure what my family went through two years ago when my brother was killed.

Having seen what my family went through when my brother was killed two years ago (the other driver is still awaiting trial on charges of vehicular homicide), I could understand at least some of what they were going through.

When I attended the visitation and funeral after returning from the convention, I was amazed at the outpouring of support from the community. While there was apprehension at the knowledge the killers were on the loose and anger at the cruelty of the crimes, those who attended the funeral and helped with fundraisers were driven more by a concern to help.

Thanks also goes to the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office, led by Sheriff Wayne DeWitt, along with SLED and the FBI, for their swift and aggressive response to track down suspects. 

The concern of the people of the Lowcountry and local, state and federal law enforcement were much-needed lights in a time of darkness for two families and they're certainly appreciated.

Blogland readers will be kept updated upon developments in this case, as well as information about how they can help the families of Dana Woods and June Guerry.

Parole Alert: Brian Nelson, Lowcountry double cop killer

It's not every day we ask for Blogland readers to help us - but it's not every day that someone who killed two cops has a parole hearing in South Carolina.

Brian Nelson (the guy on the right) faces a parole hearing for the hit-and-run deaths of Summerville Police Officer William Bell and Berkeley County Sheriff's Deputy Gene Wright, who were killed in the line of duty while attempting to assist a motorist on U.S. Route 17-A in Summerville. To date, he has served just EIGHT YEARS of a twenty year sentence. In our view, you don't drive over and kill two cops and just serve eight years (in our world, he'd be swinging from the gallows).

So yeah, we're opposed to Nelson's release, and we hope you will will join us in doing so.

If you want to go ahead and register your objections without reading any further, please visit the Department of Probation and Parole website (http://www.dppps.sc.gov/oppose_parole.html) and state your opposition to the release of Brian Nelson, SCDC inmate # 00292367.

His parole hearing is scheduled for July 25 - THIS WEDNESDAY - at 9:30 a.m. The hearing will be held via TV connection at the National Guard Armory in North Charleston on Cross County Road - AND IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

If you can make it, we encourage you to attend.

If you'd like to know more about what happened, Valarie Bell Wright, the daughter of officer William Bell, provided this narrative about what took place:

More phones in SC prisons


While the FCC opposes allowing states to jam cell phones in prisons, the problem of inmates using cell phones in South Carolina prisons continues, as it does in many other states.

We'd like to share three Facebook profiles courtesy of the good folks at Charleston Thug Life, who do a great job of catching lowlifes online. All three are doing time  in South Carolina prisons: 

Mr. Green even posted his cell phone number in the photo above. We're sure he's lonely so give him a call.

Parole Alert: Brian Nelson, Lowcountry double cop killer

It's not every day we ask for Blogland readers to help us - but it's not every day that someone who killed two cops has a parole hearing in South Carolina.

Brian Nelson (the guy on the right) faces a parole hearing for the hit-and-run deaths of Summerville Police Officer William Bell and Berkeley County Sheriff's Deputy Gene Wright, who were killed in the line of duty while attempting to assist a motorist on U.S. Route 17-A in Summerville. To date, he has served just EIGHT YEARS of a twenty year sentence. In our view, you don't drive over and kill two cops and just serve eight years (in our world, he'd be swinging from the gallows).

So yeah, we're opposed to Nelson's release, and we hope you will will join us in doing so.

If you want to go ahead and register your objections without reading any further, please visit the Department of Probation and Parole website (http://www.dppps.sc.gov/oppose_parole.html) and state your opposition to the release of Brian Nelson, SCDC inmate # 00292367.

His parole hearing is scheduled for July 25 at 9:30 a.m. We'll keep you posted on the location.

If you'd like to know more about what happened, Valarie Bell Wright, the daughter of officer William Bell, provided this narrative about what took place:

Prison violence and the Clyburn connection

Our most recent discussion of the issue of cell phones in prison was a month ago. Guess what? It's becoming an increasing security risk in South Carolina prisons, as well as in other states.

Yesterday, inmates seized a guard and rioted at Lee Correctional Institution (prison). According to news media accounts, "inmates with illegal cell phones called Lee County dispatchers about the seizure of the guard. Many different inmates made the calls".

We're pretty sure that being able to jam cell phone signals in prison might've helped prevent the coordination of this attempted prison takeover.


Since Jim Clyburn's association with his daughter, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, no doubt helped get her that well-paid job, perhaps he could ask her to allow the thirty-one states which have requested FCC approval to jam cell phone signals in prison. After all, if that brat is gonna hog at the trough, she might as well do something for the money. 

Hammond's Black Bike Week bust

Atlantic Beach Bikefest, commonly known as Black Bike Week, has gained a high degree of notoriety for unleashing a crime wave across the Grand Strand. The event and the Town of Atlantic Beach have drawn fire from a number of Horry politicos, including County Council Chair Tom Rice and State Rep. Tracy Edge.

This year, Secretary of State "Dirty Harry" Mark Hammond joined the festivities, teaming up with Horry County cops to raid event vendor stands, which are leased out by town government, arresting three and seizing over half a million dollars in fake merchandise.

Merchandise items seized in the bust included counterfeit merchandise included CDs, jeans, sunglasses, hats, handbags, shoes, wallets, cell phone covers, iPad covers, and DVDs. Some companies whose products were counterfeited included Air Jordan, Burberry, Chanel, Coach, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Lacoste, Louis Vuitton, Major League Baseball, Motion Picture Association of America, National Hockey League, NCAA, NFL, Nike, Oakley, Polo, Recording Industry of America, True Religion and Versace.

For the life of us, we can't fathom how people would think they'd be buying legit brand-name products from a vendor's table, but we suppose not everyone has a clue.

But this raid was just the tip of the iceberg for the town that looks like the most corrupt and/or inept in South Carolina.

8th Circuit Solicitor's office DUI friendly?

If you're a drunk driver, you may find the counties of the Eight Judicial Circuit - Abbeville, Greenwood, Laurens and Newberry Counties - a friendlier place to drive than other Upstate counties thanks to incumbent Solicitor Jerry Peace.

A brewing issue in the ongoing Republican primary battle between Peace and challenger David Stumbo is over the low DUI conviction rate in the Circuit. Last fall, WSPA TV News 7 in the Upstate reported that in a four-month period last summer, over eighty percent of DUI cases in Greenwood and Abbeville Counties were dismissed, with Greenwood County's conviction rate was 18% and Abbeville’s rate at 22%.

While Peace says this was because defendants offered to plead guilty to a lesser charge like reckless driving, but when compared to other Upstate counties for the same time period, this conviction rate came in well behind the following counties:

Cleaning out the gene pool in the Lowcountry

If you try to rob someone, you might get shot. You might even get killed. Just ask Racarlton Alphonse Scott.

Oh, that's right, you can't ask him. He's dead.

Mr. Scott died after getting shot while trying to rob someone who had a gun. Sometimes that happens. The pathetic piece of crap tried robbing a North Charleston resident while he was putting his four-year old daughter in the car. 

We qualify our assessment of Scott as a pathetic piece of crap based upon his criminal record: Assault and battery (2007), Simple Assault and Battery (2007), and Strong Arm Robbery (2008). Given this series of convictions, we're left wondering what he was doing on the streets in the first place.

Two others, 20-year-old Jamel Prezzy and 24-year-old Jermaine Venning, were arrested for their role in the robbery gone wrong. While Prezzy had a clean record, Venning, didn't. He was convicted of drug dealing in Charleston County in 2006. 

A more detailed history of the short life of Mr. Scott is available from our friends at Charleston Thug Life, a website which chronicles the online social media activities of Lowcountry vermin. Their website is ALWAYS worth a visit.

SC inmates still on the phone - FCC AWOL?


Thanks to revelations from the folks with the Charleston Thug Life blog, which has made a name for itself trolling the ever-burgeoning world of urban hoodlums using social media, we get more evidence of inmates using phones in prison to keep in contact with the outside world. Two weeks ago, the website outed a number of inmates online, followed by a story in the Charleston Post and Courier which looked at the ongoing problem

Lieber Correctional Institution staff snagged well over seven hundred phones from inmates last year.

Meanwhile, South Carolina is one of 31 states which have requested permission from the FCC, which includes South Carolinian Mignon Clyburn - the daughter of S.C. Congressman Jim Clyburn (aka J.C. Hammer) - to implement cell phone jamming in prisons to neutralize this problem. 

We talked about this issue over a year ago - not surprisingly, they're still waiting.