SOUTHERN TIDE FOUNDER’S STORY FACES SCRUTINY … FAMILY OF VICTIM HIRES AN ATTORNEY …
There are several new developments to report in the Greenville “Castle Killing,” in which a wealthy young businessman shot and killed a man he claimed threatened him with a knife after intruding on his thirty-acre estate.
This website was the first to identify the shooter as 29-year-old Allen Stephenson – owner of the Southern Tide apparel company. For whatever reason, local authorities and mainstream media outlets declined to name him.
The man Stephenson shot? Matthew Whitman – a 32-year-old who lived in a far less glamorous neighborhood less than two miles away from sprawling estate anchored by the 5,400-square foot, century-old German castle.
According to a statement from Stephenson’s attorney – Sloan Ellis – Stephenson had “no alternative but to defend himself with his shotgun” after Whitman allegedly attacked him with a knife following a verbal altercation on the property.
Ellis said his client “did not know” Whitman and had “no information” to explain what he was doing on Stephenson’s property.
Assuming that’s true, this should be an open and shut case. But it certainly seems as though there are lots of unanswered questions.
“As of this date, this case is active and being investigated by our office,” a Greenville County sheriff’s deputy wrote in an email to The Greenville News. “Charges are still undetermined.”
“Due to the position and nature of this case, our office will not be releasing any further information until decisions have been made regarding formal charges,” the email added.
Further complicating things, Greenville sheriff Steve Loftis has refused media requests from multiple outlets and declined to release incident reports, 911 records and other information.
Meanwhile Whitman’s family has retained an attorney to represent their late relative’s interests.
“Matt Whitman was a brilliant, loving, kind and gentle son, brother and uncle, and our family is heartbroken by our loss of him,” Whitman’s family said in a statement issued by attorney David Price. “While we do not know why Matt was on that property on Saturday, he did not have a criminal record and we have never observed him being violent or threatening to any person.”
“We therefore trust and expect that law enforcement will thoroughly investigate the circumstances that led to Matt’s death at the hands of another person,” the statement added.
Further fueling this drama? Stephenson is reportedly very close to prosecutors in Greenville – most notably S.C. Senate candidate William Timmons. Also, pictures of Stephenson and his friends posing with firearms have been highlighted by those objecting to South Carolina’s “Stand Your Ground” laws – as well as its “Castle Doctrine” protections.
“Stand Your Ground” laws outline the circumstances in which individuals can use deadly force in the face of an oncoming attacker. Meanwhile the “Castle Doctrine” allows for homeowners to use deadly force in the event they feel threatened on their own property.
At this point, we still have seen no evidence to suggest that the story provided by Stephenson’s attorney is not legitimate. But it’s clear police in Greenville are not ready to clear the apparel magnate just yet …