I hate being a broken record. And I hate bearing bad news. But as long as South Carolina’s so-called “justice” system continues coddling violent criminals at the expense of victims – and of public safety – then count on my news outlet to continue calling out the prosecutors, judges and politicians who are directly responsible for the system failure.
As well as their accommodators in the mainstream media …
In fact, those with the power to fix this problem are often part of the problem …
And with rare exceptions, everyone involved in this charade gets a hall pass from the legacy press.
The latest example of this troubling trend at work?
Earlier this week, Clarendon County sheriff Timothy Baxley announced the arrests of four men in connection with a June 4, 2022 shooting that took place at a graduation party near Summerton, S.C. – a shrinking rural town of around 800 located approximately 47 miles southwest of Columbia.
The shooting claimed the life of 32-year-old Audrionna Kind. Eight others were wounded by gunfire – including six minors (the youngest of whom was only 12 years old).
Those arrested in connection with the shooting were: Jaheim Billie, 19, Tyrese Brunson, 21, Demadrae Dennis, 21 and Amontae Wright, 18.
All four defendants face one count of murder, eight counts of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature and related weapons charges. And yes, all are considered innocent until proven guilty by our criminal justice system – or until such time as they may wish to enter some form of allocution in connection with a plea agreement with prosecutors related to any of the charges that may be filed against them.
Still, though, should they have even been in position to commit these latest alleged crimes?
While there was scant mention of the criminal histories of these defendants in the mainstream press, credit goes to reporter Billie Jean Shaw of WIS TV-10 (NBC – Columbia, S.C.) for at least referencing some pertinent information about them on her Facebook page.
According to Shaw, Brunson was out on bond at the time of his arrest – staring down assault and weapons charges in connection with a December 3, 2021 shooting at a restaurant in Manning, S.C. That shooting left one woman wounded.
(Click to view)
(Via: Clarendon County Detention Center)
Shaw also uncovered that Dennis (above) was arrested in August 2020 for accessory to murder in connection with the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Travon Stukes. Prior to that, he was arrested in February of 2019 for burglary and grand larceny – and again in June of 2019 on a pair of gun charges.
So … what in the world were Brunson and Dennis doing out of jail at the time of the Summerton shooting?
That’s a good question.
Here’s a better one, though: Why is South Carolina’s court system so utterly incapable of dispensing expedient justice to violent criminals?
To her credit, Clarendon County magistrate Elease H. Fulton denied bond to Brunson and Dennis on the latest round of charges filed against them – although she did so in a courtroom closed to cameras. Of course, bond for these defendants will be revisited in a few weeks time by a legislatively elected circuit court judge – long after the media attention from the case has died down.
What will happen then? Probably more of the same …
Catch. Release. Rinse. Repeat.
DON’T MISS A STORY …
As long as South Carolina’s “justice” system continues treating criminals better than the people they terrorize – and treating violent offenders better than their victims – we should expect violent crime in the Palmetto State to continue to skyrocket.
But hey … let’s all celebrate those half-empty prisons, right?
Here’s a novel concept: Let’s stop worrying about “woke” justice for violent offenders and start focusing on justice for the people they are murdering.
Seriously … where is Audrionna Kind’s justice? Or Travon Stukes’ justice?
South Carolina desperately needs bond reform. And sentencing reform. And docket reform. And (most of all) judicial selection reform.
And clearly we need it yesterday …
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. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that Durham Bulls’ lid pictured above).
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