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

Sex offender plea deal fuels heated 8th Circuit Solicitor race

A recent plea deal in a child molestation case has set off a storm of controversy in the GOP primary for the 8th Circuit Solicitor race, where incumbent Solicitor Jerry Peace's decision to cut a deal has generated a great deal of criticism, including from a national expert who declared "the handling of this case was highly irregular and troubling", as well as the family of the victim i the case.

This is the latest in a race which has turned into a heated battle between the incumbent and supporters of David Stumbo, a veteran prosecutor who has worked both in the state Attorney General's office as well as an assistant solicitor in the 11th Circuit.

Allegations have been made that Peace's office mishandled the case regarding Norman Keesee, a former music minister accused of molesting a child with cerebral palsy during music lessons. Keesee pled guilty to First Degree Assault and Battery (a non-sexual offense) and was given five years of probation and required to register as a sex offender. While it was indicated that the victim's family agreed to the sentence, a post-trial media interview indicated the family was blindsided in the courtroom on the day of the sentencing and disagreed strongly with the plea deal which was reached by Peace's office.

Inside Interview: Eleventh Circuit Assistant Solictor Ervin Maye

One of the most important, but often overlooked, roles in state government is the role of criminal prosecution. Working long and late hours for less than attorneys with private firms, they play a key role in our state’s judicial system. As issues related to crime and courts are one of our favorite areas of discussion, we always enjoy the opportunity to meet with the attorneys, judges and other officials in the system.

Recently we met with Ervin Jerome Maye, a Midlands prosecutor, when he was visiting the Lowcountry. We had a great time meeting with him and he agreed to share a little bit about himself and his work with Blogland readers, via our Inside Interview series of interviews.

About Maye’s background:

Charleston thugs exposed online

Our hats are off to the newest group of citizen activists - Charleston Thug Life - who are following the Charleston area's criminal element online.

Scrolling through their blog, it's ... interesting ... to see how brazen the losers of Charleston's gutter are in showing off via social media. We invite you to check out their work.

Reportedly, the blog, whose unidentified authors say their goal is to “expose as many of these hidden thugs as we can; for as long as we can”, have become a tool for local law enforcement.

The high price of messing with Kevin Brackett

Kevin Brackett, York County’s Republican Solicitor, is known for being tough on crime, as well as a man of his word.

Two years ago, the Blogland reported on a “second chance” program targeted at youthful first-time offenders in Rock Hill. Brackett offered eight drug dealers with clean records a chance to get their lives together, get a job and stay out of trouble – or be prosecuted for those charges, along the new ones.

Of the eight, four were never heard or seen by local law enforcement. Three of the other four who got in trouble again were arrested for more drug offenses.

Parole Denied

It took just five minutes for the parole board to deny double cop-killer Brian Nelson parole today in a standing-room only hearing.

The Blogland was there to show support for the family of Officer William Bell of the Summerville Police Department, one of the officers killed by Nelson.

We want to thank our readers who have shown their support, including by signing the parole petitions to keep Nelson behind bars.

For those of you not familiar with the case, here are the facts:

America's Most Wanted ... cancelled? WTF?!?

After over two decades on the air, one of the longest-running television programs - America's Most Wanted - got the ax from Fox television network officials. This announcment comes just weeks after the most notorious criminal to be featured by the program - Osama Bin Laden - was brought to justice by U.S. Navy SEALs and at the end of a season which, according to host John Walsh, "caught more guys than we've ever caught".

Which leads us to ask ourselves this question: What the hell are they thinking over at Fox?!?

By engaging the American public in the search for fugitives and missing persons through this TV program, John Walsh was able to turn a personal tragedy - the abduction and murder of his son - into something positive. This program has been a major asset for law enforcement agencies and a defender of those victimized by major criminals.

Fifteen years ago, a similar decision to cancel the show was made, only to be rescinded. We hope for a similar reversal of fortune this time will keep the program on the air - and dangerous fugitives on the run.

The high cost of a life of crime in Berkeley County

It seems as if Berkeley County isn’t a very friendly place for criminals these days.

Less than two weeks ago, three tried to break into a Moncks Corner residence to steal guns. One perp, Bobby Gadsden, was snuffed out by a homeowner acting in self-defense, while two others were later arrested as accessories.

Today, there’s yet another perp taking up space in the Berkeley County morgue. Jerome Darby, who attempted to disarm an arresting officer, may have failed to get the gun, but he was successful at getting himself killed.

According to a Blogland search, it appears that he may have been a rather busy fellow. We found the following convictions in Berkeley County court records (in addition to other charges for which he was not convicted):

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, plesae visit the Department of Probation and Parole website ( and state your opposition to the release of Brian Nelson, SCDC inmate # 00292367.

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:

Rep. McCoy: Mandatory minimums for those who attack cops

House 115 Rep. Peter McCoy, well-known for helping give a now-former Representative time to attend AA meetings and crash events uninvited, is taking on those who attack cops.

McCoy's bill, H3517, would establish a minimum sentence of fifteen years for anyone who is convicted of the act of trying to kill a law enforcement officer. A former prosecutor with the 9th Circuit Solicitor's office, he decided to push this bill forward motivation for this bill came from the recent shooting of Charleston County Sheriff Deputy Jeffrey DeGrow whom was shot while chasing suspected burglars on James Island.

Deputy DeGrow was supportive of McCoy's bill:

Criminals who commit such crimes are not afraid of the consequences because the penalties are not tough enough. I believe Rep. McCoy's bill will make them think twice before committing a crime against law enforcement.

More inmates on Facebook and using phones?

Glenn Smith at the Post and Courier lets us see just how pervasive the problem of inmates using cell phones and other technology is with more news of inmates showing up online with a follow-up story on the issue:

Michael Jason Maxwell killed a Goose Creek man with a shotgun. Tony Enriquez took a teenager’s life for a pack of smokes. Tommie “Ricky” Tant shot up a man’s truck during a confrontation in North Charleston.

All are serving time in South Carolina prisons for their crimes. And all found a way to get around prison rules and communicate with folks on the outside through online social media.

Enriquez, serving life without parole for murder, chose Facebook to express himself, as did Tant, finishing a two-year stint for assault with intent to kill. Maxwell was more old-school, posting his profile on MySpace.

Too bad none of these guys write about the more sordid details of life in prison, which might actually serve as a deterrent to those in their social circles who are still outside of prison. But we guess nobody wants to brag about that stuff.

We're still waiting to see what the holdup is that keeps South Carolina from being allowed to implement cell phone jamming in our prisons. South Carolina is one of thirty-one states which have requested the ability to take this step.

York County approach to drug dealers catching on?

The City of North Charleston, long known for having problems with drugs and gang-violence, is trying a new approach to getting drug violence off its streets:

A new program hopes to clean up a drug-plagued North Charleston neighborhood by steering entry-level dealers into a jobs program.

Key among its planks is that if the targets do not participate, the drug charges they were originally targeted under will be pursued, sending them in front of a judge.

Federal, state and local law enforcement officials were in the Charleston Farms neighborhood Thursday to announce the pilot effort, along with the arrests of 15 suspected drug dealers brought down after a six-month undercover investigation meant to clean up the area.

As part of the round-up -- which still has as many as nine arrests to go -- at least seven other lower-tier drug dealers will be given the opportunity to avoid prosecution if they take part in a jobs and betterment program. One of the requirements is that they also come back to the community for in-person updates, detailing their progress in moving away from the drug trade.

Not too long ago, we talked with 16th Circuit Solictor Kevin Brackett about his efforts to use a similar program in cleaning up Rock Hill neighborhoods.

Getting tough on Lowcountry scumbags

Two losers will be gone for a long time, thanks to a couple of Lowcountry judges ...

Last Thursday, Circuit Judge Kristi "Handcuffs" Harrington sents this Berkeley pedophile away for life:

The jury found Ronald Lee McCauley of Summerville guilty of three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of unlawful conduct toward a minor and two counts of lewd act upon a child, according to a statement released by the 9th Circuit Solicitor's Office.

Circuit Judge Kristi Harrington sentenced McCauley to three terms of life without the possibility of parole.

Then on Friday, Circuit Judge Deadra Jefferson gave this cop-shooter the max:

A jury took less than one hour Friday to find Brandon Simmons guilty of shooting Charleston County Sheriff's Deputy Jeffrey DeGrow six times.

Simmons, 22, received the maximum 25-year sentence from Circuit Judge Deadra Jefferson, 20 years for one count of assault and battery with intent to kill and five years for one count of possessing a firearm during a violent crime. The years will run consecutively.

Taking aim at the I-95 speed trap in Ridgeland

Former U.S. Attorney Pete Strom stirred the smoldering fire over the I-95 speed trap in Ridgeland by posting this report and request for feedback from those who've received tickets while driving through the town's area of jurisdiction over the key East Coast freeway:

According to the Ridgeland Municipal Court Traffic Court Roster , approximately 1,950 people have been charged with a traffic violation and are scheduled to appear in traffic court on Monday, January 3, 2010. At fines ranging from $100-$300, this is an extremely profitable way to recoup funds for the Town, especially considering the fact that the majority of people stopped are traveling through South Carolina to an out of state destination and will likely pay the fine to avoid traffic court.

We would like to hear from South Carolina residents who received a Uniform Traffic Ticket from the Town of Ridgeland, as well as out of state drivers ticketed while passing through South Carolina. Please post your comments below and describe the details surrounding your traffic citation. Also, please indicate whether your driving was impaired by the flash of the light from the video camera or whether anything else distracted you.

State Senator Larry Grooms has taken an interest in this issue, as have others. We'll be talking with them and following this, so stay tuned ...

Today's Judicial qualifications

The Judicial Merit Screening Committee released candidates for three judicial seats today:

  • Fifth Circuit, Circuit Court Judge: Benjamin, Meadors & Hood
  • Ninth Circuit, Family Court Judge: Mack, Martin, Turner
  • Thirteenth Circuit, Circuit Court Judge: Englebardt, Mackenzie & Verdin

Special thanks to Ferris Bueller for keeping us updated. More screening reports are due tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Embattled Master in Equity stepping down

Last spring, the re-appointment of Dorchester County Master-in-Equity judge Patrick Watts became a hot-button issue when allegations surfaced about mishandling of foreclosure cases:

Watts has been under public scrutiny since the S.C. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in December that he violated a Summerville woman’s constitutional rights by allowing his secretary to conduct a foreclosure hearing involving her home without any testimony. Watts later signed an order authorizing the foreclosure, though he wasn’t present at the hearing.
The Blogland has been informed that Watts has opted to drop out of consideration for appointment to another term on the bench following a number of complaints which were filed against him. In spite of these concerns, he will serve out his term, which is expected to last until May of next year, while the vacancy is filled.

Parole Alert: Kenneth William Green, SCDC 00116020

We're asking Blogland readers to help keep a convicted murderer behind bars.

In 1982, Kenneth William Greene was convicted of murder and sent to prison for killing the grandfather of a regular Blogland reader. He has a parole hearing on November 10, and we're asking our readers to voice their opposition to his parole.

That's all you have to do to make your voice heard and help out a fellow Blogland reader. 

Kevin Brackett charges surviving robber with murder in partner's shooting

With Upstate Solicitor Trey Gowdy weeks away from a likely landslide win in his bid for the 4th District Congressional seat, 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett is likely to become the Blogland's favorite Solicitor. Brackett's tough and no-nonsense reputation is very much in the mold of his predecessor, Tommy Pope (Pope, like Gowdy, is on the fall ballot, seeking House District 47 in York County).

One of many reasons of why we like Brackett can be found in his handling of a recent case where two men who attempted to rob a band after a concert in Rock Hill. One of the two thugs was erased when a band member drew his own gun and fired in self-defense, and the one who survived now faces murder charges for his part in the botched robbery attempt:

Dems divided in AG race?

The race for the state’s open Attorney General’s office has been fairly low-key since the end of the June GOP primary and run-off, where GOP nominee Alan Wilson won the run-off handily. Since the race was set with Wilson’s nomination, both candidates have been working to prepare for the short fall sprint to November, focusing on fundraising and networking.

Wilson’s primary campaign strategy of building his credentials as being pro-law enforcement by seeking the endorsements of the state’s Sheriffs during the primary may have given him an early start towards the fall campaign, as well as made it harder for Matt Richardson, the Democratic nominee, to approach the fall campaign with his Democratic voter base united behind his candidacy.

During the GOP primary, Wilson announced the endorsements of twenty-nine of the state’s forty-six Sheriffs. Fifteen of these were Democrats, representing most of the state’s counties with Democratic Sheriffs. The only sizable counties with Democratic Sheriffs that did not endorse Wilson are Richland and Sumter, not counting Orangeburg, whose recently-passed Sheriff Larry Williams had endorsed Wilson:

12th Circuit Solicitor Clements cutting deals with defense attorneys on murder trials?

Clair Chaffin was one of the "Greatest Generation".  He was a Marine who fought at Iwo Jima, living in Florida and enjoying his retirement, traveling on vacation.

While the death penalty seems the appropriate course of action, the Solicitor, Ed Clements, has chosen not to pursue it. But since Robert Lee, who we've been informed is his campaign manager, (pictured with Clements at a campaign event to the right), is the defense counsel for one of the accused killers, it seems like another example of deals are being cut - and justice denied once more in the 12th Circuit.

Kevin Brackett vs. Nightline

The Blogland is a big fan of 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett. Like his predecessor, (future State Representative) Tommy Pope, Brackett is a career law-and-order guy who lives to keep the communities of South Carolina safer, he's as creative as he is dedicated, is tough on criminals, and doesn't back down from a fight.

He went to work for Pope right out of law school, not always a good move for those deep in law school student loans, and moved up to replace Pope several years ago. We've watched him stand firm and take the fight to the criminal element.

His newest fight: taking on NBC's Nightline show over what he sees as inaccuracies in a recent murder case: