No one likes the sound of a broken record. Nor do I relish being a broken record. It gets old writing the same thing over and over again – just as I am sure it probably gets old reading the same thing over and over again.
When it comes to the ongoing travesty of excessive judicial leniency for violent criminals in South Carolina, though, I am not about to stop calling out this problem … nor am I going to stop trying to hold those responsible for perpetuating it accountable for their actions.
Why? Because the stakes are simply too high …
Also, this is just one of many problems with the Palmetto State’s uneven system of “justice,” which has been turned on its ear in recent years as South Carolina’s “Republican” lawmakers have repeatedly elected left-leaning judges with a penchant for placing the rights of criminals ahead of the rights of their victims.
And ahead of the safety of the public …
Anyway … the latest example of this dangerous trend? The case of Cassius Marcello Broadwater Jr., a 21-year-old resident of Greenwood, S.C. who was charged last month with two counts of murder and two weapons charges in connection with a brutal double homicide that took place in his hometown last month.
According to local police, Broadwater shot and killed 23-year-old Ariel Mikeyuna Beeks of Donalds, S.C. and 22-year-old Kyndall Ayanna Curry of Ware Shoals, S.C. at around 12:30 a.m. EDT on Monday, June 28, 2021 in front of a home owned by his mother.
One of the two women allegedly gunned down by Broadwater was the mother of his child, police said.
According to a report in The (Greenwood, S.C.) Index-Journal, local police chief T.J. Chaudoin said that “Broadwater had been arguing with one of the women and it escalated until he fired into the car, hitting both women multiple times.”
“Each woman had multiple gunshot wounds, and officers noted that no bullets had hit the body panels of the car, but instead went through the passenger side windows,” the Index-Journal report added.
“There was more than enough probable cause at the scene to make this arrest,” Chaudoin told the paper.
As with anyone accused of committing any crime, Broadwater is considered innocent until proven guilty by our criminal justice system – or until such time as he may wish to enter some form of allocution in connection with a plea agreement with prosecutors related to any of the charges filed against him.
But while Broadwater is entitled to due process, prosecutors and judges must assess the risk he poses to public safety in determining the amount and the conditions of his bond (in the event he is to be granted bond at all).
Hopefully that will happen whenever Broadwater has a bond hearing scheduled on these two murder charges …
Unfortunately, it did not happen last year when Broadwater was charged with attempted murder – and a host of drug charges – in connection with a March 15, 2020 shootout in Greenwood county. According to police, Broadwater fired several shots from a long rifle at a vehicle fleeing a residence on Brewer Avenue in Greenwood, S.C.
Prior to that incident, Broadwater had been sentenced to three years in prison after he was convicted of firing a gun into an apartment complex in Greenwood.
Nonetheless, on May 27, 2020 – just thirteen months before the murder of Beeks and Curry – S.C. circuit court judge Frank R. Addy Jr. granted Broadwater a $70,000 surety bond on the attempted murder charge (which only required him to pay $7,000 to be released).
Addy set this bond for Broadwater despite the fact that prosecutors in the office of S.C. eighth circuit solicitor David Stumbo objected to his release – and despite the court’s own acknowledgement that Broadwater had “accrued a number of serious general sessions offenses.”
Addy also noted he was “concerned about (a) gang affiliation allegation” involving Broadwater.
Not concerned enough, apparently …
(Click to download)
(Via: S.C. Eighth Circuit)
Under the conditions of his bond, Broadwater was supposed to remain under “house arrest” with exceptions permitted for “gainful employment … necessary legal and medical appointments and religious services customary to his faith.”
Broadwater was further ordered to have “no contact of any kind with his co-defendants” and was ordered not to “possess a firearm.”
Clearly, he did not comply with those conditions … with fatal consequences.
“Excessive judicial leniency has become almost as grave a threat to public safety as the criminals being allowed to run wild on our streets,” I noted in addressing this subject just last month. “As a libertarian, I am deeply invested in the constitutional guarantee of due process for all defendants. But we cannot allow the rights of those charged with violent crimes to supersede the rights of crime victims – nor can we permit public safety to be jeopardized by ill-conceived bond decisions. At the very least, first-time violent criminals who break the law while they are out on bond should forfeit the right to further leniency.”
Sadly, striking a better balance seems unlikely to happen under S.C. supreme court chief justice Donald Beatty – a former liberal lawmaker who subscribes to the “woke” conception of justice. Beatty also exacerbated the problem when he effectively shut down the state’s judicial system during the Covid-19 pandemic. Also, the S.C. General Assembly refuses to hold Beatty and circuit court judges accountable for this escalating threat – although they did recently shoot down the nomination of one judge with a history of excessive leniency.
As noted, bad rulings from the bench aren’t the only problem. Prosecutors in the state frequently flub big cases – or agree to questionable plea deals. Also, as I noted in a post last week, the state’s code of laws is in desperate need of an upgrade – both in terms of the definitions of violent crimes as well as the punishments meted out for those who commit them.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass player and a dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including the above-pictured Toronto Blue Jays’ lid).
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