Solicitor: No evidence that Five Points beating was racially motivated
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Prosecutors say the brutal beating of a teenager last week in Columbia's Five Points doesn't appear to have been racially motivated, but the U.S. attorney is still reviewing the case.
Fifth Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson, who will prosecute the eight people charged with attacking 18-year-old Carter Strange on June 20 before leaving him for dead, said no evidence suggests the beating was racially motivated other than the race of the people involved. Strange is white; the eight suspects are black.
However, Johnson said his office asked U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles to review the evidence to make sure hate crime charges are not warranted. A hate crime is legally defined as an attack motivated entirely or primarily by prejudice.
The seven juveniles charged with attacking Strange faced a judge on Monday, who granted a request that the defendants stay in jail until trial. The unnamed suspects' next court date hasn't been scheduled yet, according to Johnson.
The eighth suspect, 19-year-old Thyeem Henrey, appeared in court on Friday afternoon. The judge set bond at $750,000, which must be paid in full to allow Henrey's release.
Police say Strange was jogging home just after midnight when the suspects approached him in a parking lot near Blossom Street and beat him up. A passerby found him a block away two hours later, and called 911.
Strange said he had to have emergency brain surgery and facial reconstruction surgery after the attack, but is making a remarkable recovery. "My physical condition is amazing," said Strange. "I mean, the condition I'm in right now is a miracle."
Meanwhile, the City of Columbia has approved an emergency 11:00pm curfew around Five Points for minors under 17. Police Chief Randy Scott said the curfew is in effect seven nights a week, and will last for 60 days. "This is not about taking sides; this is not a black or white issue," Scott said on Tuesday. "This is about the safety of our city and the safety of our young people."
"I think [the curfew] is a great thing," said Strange. "They just need to make sure that they enforce it."
Making the ordinance work will require some discretion on the part of police officers. "There will be, for lack of a better word, a checklist to make sure that you do all the right things," said Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin. "There's no legal requirement that anyone carry identification, but there are some ways I think we can get to the endgame while we protect a young person's constitutional rights."
Scott said city leaders will evaluate the curfew and look into extending it past the 60-day window. Leaders from the Five Points Association and surrounding neighborhood associations said they fully support the curfew.