Crime & Courts

Rick Chow Murder Case: Search Warrant Ruled Unconstitutional

“Without probable cause, there was no basis to execute the search warrants …”

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A search warrant obtained in connection with the murder investigation of Columbia, South Carolina convenience store owner Rick Chow has been tossed by a judge due to lack of probable cause.

According to S.C. circuit court judge Robert Hood, warrants sought by Richland County sheriff’s department investigators “were insufficient to establish probable cause to search (Chow)’s business and home.”

“Without probable cause, there was no basis to execute the search warrants,” Hood wrote. “Accordingly, the evidence obtained through the illegal search of (Chow)’s business and home must be suppressed.”

Hood noted his decision was based not only on the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but also the S.C. Constitution, which he noted provides “greater protection” against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The warrants – which were executed on July 11, 2023 – sought “any and all employee files” as well as “files containing employee handbooks or policy manuals.” They also sought “any computer hard drives, thumb drives or portable hard drives that may contain any files that may contain any employee records or manuals.”

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Chow has been charged with murder in connection with the May 29, 2023 weekend shooting of 14-year-old Cyrus Carmack-Belton at the former’s “XPress Mart” Shell gas station and convenience store located at 7441 Parklane Road in Columbia, S.C.

Carmack-Belton entered Chow’s convenience store at around 8:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, May 28, 2023 and retrieved four water bottles – but reportedly put them back in the cooler prior to departing, according to investigators. Nevertheless, at some point while he was inside the store a verbal altercation ensued between him and Chow, the owner of the store.

Carmack-Belton was allegedly chased from the store onto the 200 block of Springtree Drive by Chow and his son – Andy Chow – at which point the elder Chow shot him in the back. A handgun was retrieved near the victim’s body but according to authorities there is no indication the 14-year-old shot or pointed the gun at the store owner or his son.

Chow is represented by Columbia, S.C. defense attorneys Jack Swerling and Joe McCulloch. The case against him is being prosecuted by the office of S.C. fifth circuit solicitor Byron Gipson.

Swerling and McCulloch argued on behalf of Chow during a July 25 hearing that the Richland County warrant was excessively broad as it yielded information tied to Chow’s business and personal finances that investigators had no right to see.

“They have no business looking at that stuff,” Swerling argued.

Hood concurred …

Chow – who has a valid concealed weapons permit – was charged with murder in the aftermath of Carmack-Belton’s shooting. He is currently being held without bond at the Alvin S. Glenn detention center south of Columbia, S.C. Chow was involved in a pair of previous shootings – one in 2015 and another in 2018 – but was not charged in either of those cases.

In the 2015 shooting, Chow fired six shots into a vehicle following a suspected shoplifting incident. In the 2018 shooting, Chow fired a round which struck an admitted shoplifter in the leg

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THE RULING …

(Via: S.C. Fifth Circuit)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Will Folks (Dylan Nolan)

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 (soon to be eight) children.

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4 comments

Hopeful Change September 22, 2023 at 5:43 pm

It sounds as though RCSD investigators, in their zeal to persecute Mr Chow so that their boss Leon Lott might gain enhanced political clout with his voting base in the criminal sympathizer co-munity, flubbed the dubb. It is pleasing to see Judge Robert Hood upholding both the South Carolina and United States Constitutions! I hope this type of job excellence is contagious.

Is there any chance that this business owner with strong ties to Richland County might now be granted bail? So many times, men with lengthy criminal records whose only job has been “career criminal” get bail, commit a crime, get bail for that crime, commit another crime, and get bail for that crime.

Hopefully Mr Chow will realize actual justice, not the systemic lynch mob he has been subjected to prior to now.

Reply
Justice For Rick September 22, 2023 at 6:29 pm

He deserves bail. Every week there is another stabbing, rape, or murder, at Alvin S Glenn detention center. Is their game to keep him in there until he is executed/murdered inside that death trap then go, “Oops, sorry”?

The inadequacy of leadership and staff at Alvin S Glenn is without question.

Reply
Smiles September 26, 2023 at 2:09 pm

Brings to mind when Sandy Sinn (now a State Senator) was behind the issuance of illegal search warrants that SLED executed ordering the seizure of a Plaintiff’s entire lawsuit file against her client from inside the Plaintiff’s home. What they did at the time was kept very quiet among the legal community.

Reply
Observer (the real one) September 26, 2023 at 3:07 pm

So much of that goes on that we never hear about.

Reply

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