Crime & Courts

Another South Carolina System Fail

A serial, violent abuser of women who was controversially granted probation less than two years ago appears to have struck again …

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In September of 2022, our media outlet introduced South Carolina audiences to Casey Lee Combs – a habitual, violent abuser of women who was inexplicably granted his freedom over the objections of prosecutors, law enforcement officers and his many victims.

Combs, readers will recall, was sentenced to nearly a decade-and-a-half behind bars following a litany of violent attacks against multiple women – a sentence controversially suspended by a judge with a history of unconscionable leniency to violent criminals. One of those women, Molly Vick, has become a vocal advocate for reforming the Palmetto State’s badly broken “justice” system in the aftermath of this travesty.

To recap: South Carolina is one of only two states in America in which lawmakers picks judges – a process dominated by a shady screening committee run by a handful of powerful lawyer-legislators. These political attorneys routinely reap the rewards of their influence over this process – receiving preferential treatment on behalf of their clients at the expense of judicial integrity.

This inherently unfair system has enabled institutional corruption, shredded the rights of victims (like Vick), empowered violent criminals and materially eroded public safety. It has also turned the judiciary into little more than a political annex of the legislature – a problem which is getting worse, not better.

Also getting worse? The overt politicization of legislative elections for judges – a process which is rife with corrupt insider dealmaking.

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Anyway, rather than imposing an appropriate prison sentence for Combs, circuit court judge Bentley Price of Charleston, S.C. suspended his sentence “in its entirety” and placed Combs on probation for five years.

Given the seriousness of the crimes to which Combs confessed, Price’s sentencing decision was greeted with shock and horror by victims.

According to a news release (.pdf) from the office of S.C. ninth circuit solicitor Scarlett Wilson, Combs visited one of his victim’s homes and “cursed at her and spit on her” – even after Charleston, S.C. police officers had cited him for harassment and told him not to contact the victim.

In another case, Combs “grabbed (the victim’s) hair, dragged her to the floor (and) punched her several times in the face,” according to prosecutors. After this, “he then grabbed her phone, and said she could ‘call the pigs when he left.’”

Combs then “strangled the victim … spit on (her) and threw her phone at her.” 

In yet another case, he followed a victim into her bedroom against her will and “started punching (her) in the face until she fell to the ground and then began kicking her.”

“While in the fetal position, Combs stomped on the victim’s head and hands numerous times,” the solicitor’s release continued. “He then strangled the victim with one hand and used the other to smother her face.”

As a result of this attack, the victim suffered “two swollen shut eyes, a nasal fracture, a 1.5-inch tear to her ear, a laceration to her elbow that required seven stitches, and bruising to her face, neck, forearm, and hand,” according to Wilson’s office.

(Click to View)

Casey Lee Combs (Charleston County Detention Center)

Despite all of this, Price let Combs go free – even though he was already on probation for two counts of domestic violence in North Carolina and was on probation in the Palmetto State related to several other recent charges involving violent acts against women. Combs also had multiple prior convictions on his record including two counts of assault resulting in serious bodily injury (2008), assault against a female (2015), another assault against a female (2017), communicating threats (2018) and two counts of violating a domestic violence protection order (2020).

Unbelievable, right?

“How long are citizens going to tolerate sentences like this?” I noted in my original report on Combs. “How long are we going to allow judges like Price to actively subvert justice as they bend over backward to accommodate violent criminals at the expense of victims and the safety of our communities?”

More importantly, “how long are South Carolinians going to keep supporting lawmakers who perpetuate the notoriously corrupt system that elects judges like Price? And keeps them in office?”

Not long after Vick appeared in our studios and called Price out, the S.C. Bar found him unqualified to continue serving as a judge. Not long thereafter, lawmakers narrowly declined to advance his nomination out of their screening committee – meaning he will be forced from the bench later this year.

Not soon enough, apparently …

And what of Combs?

This week, he was arrested again in the aftermath of yet another alleged assault …

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According to jail records, Combs has been charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, assault and battery in the first degree, burglary and grand larceny in the first degree and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime in connection with an incident that took place within the past week in Charleston County.

Other charges could be forthcoming, sources familiar with the case confirmed to our media outlet.

As of this writing, no details related to these charges have been provided – and, as with anyone accused of committing any crime, Combs is obviously considered innocent until proven guilty by our criminal justice system.

Combs, 42, was scheduled to appear before a magistrate in Charleston County on Thursday morning for an initial bond hearing. To her credit, Charleston County magistrate Amanda Haseldon – who was scheduled to rule on bond – denied Combs bond the last time he appeared in front of her on his previous round of charges.

And is expected to deny bond in this case …

Count on this media outlet to keep our audience up to speed on the very latest developments in his case. Also, be on the lookout for additional scrutiny of the failed system that allowed him to go free …

UPDATE | Haseldon has denied Combs bond at his initial public hearing.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

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 guitarist and dive bar bouncer. 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

Avatar photo
The Colonel Top fan February 22, 2024 at 1:52 pm

Bently Price?!? This is reallllly getting old. How could he have been “qualified” when they put him on the bench only to be “unqualified” at the next look. He has given the same “defendant leaning” decisions from start to finish – guess Todd and company can’t afford the scrutiny of Ol’Bently’s decisions any more…

Reply
Happy Jack Top fan February 22, 2024 at 4:17 pm

Yep, as to what the Colonel said!

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jbl1a February 23, 2024 at 10:41 am

Wonder who their lawyer/legislator was? That’s usually the case. You often see Todd Rutherford involved in a good many of these cases…..Hmmm. I wonder……

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Teresa Whetzel Top fan February 23, 2024 at 12:37 pm

Wow, this is so unacceptable! I don’t know this man or the women he has abused but seems like he hasn’t run up against the right one yet, because I would have unloaded on this POS. The judicial system is broken and it’s not fair that criminals are allowed to just play the game ?

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