SC bond system slower to react to violations than other states
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Jackie Britt’s son, Lance Davis, was driving his beloved motorcycle to Charleston on Sept. 6, 2020, when the bike was struck in a hit-and-run along I-26.
“[The driver] kept going; He just left them there to die,” she said.
Both Davis and his girlfriend, Brittany Reeves, later died of their injuries.
Within a week, the suspect, Deon Lathel Gibson, was arrested and charged with reckless homicide, leaving the scene of an accident involving a death, and leaving the scene of an accident involving great bodily harm. He was granted bond and bailed out of the Al Cannon Detention Center.
On Feb. 12, 2022, Gibson was arrested by the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office on drug charges. He was granted bond, but has yet to face a judge for a bond revocation hearing on the charges related to the deaths of Davis and Reeves.
“For some reason, we can’t even get a bond revocation hearing,” Britt said. “I mean, what in the world is going on?”
The administrative judge schedules such hearings. Both the South Carolina Judicial Branch and Gibson’s lawyer, Leon Stavrinakis, say there is no delay in scheduling bond modification hearings.
This case isn’t unique in the length of time it has taken just to get a hearing to have bond addressed.
Charleston attorney and South Carolina Criminal Justice Reform founder Allie Menegakis says this is a systematic problem.
“This system is effectively working the way it’s designed to, which means that the system is flawed, because four to five years to wait for a trial, several months to wait for a bond reduction hearing or bond revocation hearing is not due process,” Menegakis said.
There’s no automatic bond revocation, even if a defendant commits a new crime. Every case must be scheduled with a circuit court judge on a general session docket, of which Menegakis says there are only a few a month to address bond.
With more than 6,000 general session defendants in Charleston County alone, the dockets are full.
“There really is a simple fix for making the justice system more efficient, and that is putting rules in place and deadlines in place,” Menegakis said. “That’s something that we lack here in South Carolina that other states have had for decades.”
In Florida, where Menegakis used to practice, judges hear bond revocation motions every day and it’s not unusual for a motion to be heard within 24 hours.
In South Carolina, Britt had to wait more than six weeks.
On April 4, a hearing was scheduled for Gibson’s bond revocation. The judge ordered that additional GPS monitoring data be provided.
Britt said even if Gibson is remanded to jail, she will not be satisfied.
“[Lance] is my whole heart. He always said when it came to him, I was ruthless; I’m not going to let him down,” she said.
As of Monday, Gibson remained out on bond.
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