Questions raised on reduced bond granted to homicide suspect - - Columbia, South Carolina

Law enforcement questions reduced bond granted to homicide suspect for previous crime

Dequan Vereen (Source: Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center) Dequan Vereen (Source: Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center)

A man charged with murder in connection with a Richland County convenience store shooting last week was released from jail on a reduced bond for another violent crime, authorities said.

Dequan Vereen, 19, was arrested last November when authorities say he was part of a trio that robbed a convenience store on Forest Drive.

Major Stan Smith with the Richland County Sheriff's Department said three suspects came in wearing Spider-Man masks and one of them was armed with a semi-automatic pistol.

"The clerk was also armed and retrieved her firearm from behind the counter," Smith said. "[She] fired at them before she was attacked. She fired several times and she struck the individual who had the gun who turned out to be Dequan Vereen."

Smith said Vereen fired back, missed the clerk and ended up Providence Hospital with several gunshot wounds.

Vereen was arrested for the Forest Drive robbery and charged with armed robbery and attempted murder, court records show. Vereen's bonds totaled $100,000.

Earlier this year Vereen's attorney, Jonathan Chaplin, asked for and was granted a 50 percent bond reduction by Circuit Court Judge Alison Lee arguing Vereen was "…not a flight risk nor a danger to the community."

Vereen posted bond and was released from jail in February.

"The problem here is you got a person who's committed a violent armed robbery with a loaded handgun, a semi-automatic pistol," Smith said. "He did fire at the clerk. He certainly demonstrated he's a danger to the community."

We have a small group of violent individuals who are committing most of the violent crimes, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said.

"We can't stop it if the bad guys are allowed to go back on the streets," Lott said.

"I mean he's obviously demonstrated twice in less than a year in violent felony situations so we would certainly be in that category," Smith

In June, a panel made up of law enforcement, civic leaders and legal experts began looking at criminal justice issues including bond reductions after a bagel shop employee was gunned down on the job by three attackers including two out on bond.

"Number one, the defendant has a list of rights, most of which have to be relayed to the defendant at that time, including the presumption of innocence," Municipal Judge Carl L. Solomon said during a panel meeting. "This becomes a major issue because when you're looking at danger to the community, and there is no prior conviction for anything and you're looking at a crime, that on its face could represent that, there are several things you have to balance.

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