Solicitor’s Office seeking Juvenile Arbitration volunteers

Greenwood, S.C.; April 13, 2018 – The Eighth Circuit Solicitor’s Office is seeking officers for its Community Juvenile Arbitration Program, a program aimed at helping first-time juvenile offenders take responsibility for their actions and avoid the juvenile justice system.

The system, first implemented in 1998 under then-Solicitor Townes Jones, has received over 5,000 referrals for first-time offenders in the four counties that comprise the Eighth Judicial Circuit. The program allows first-time, non-violent juvenile offenders the opportunity to complete a volunteer program as an alternative to entering the Family Court system and also allows the offender to keep his or her juvenile record clean.

The program utilizes volunteers as arbitrators. An arbitrator conducts a hearing involving the juvenile, parents, victims and law enforcement officers. To be considered for the program, the juvenile must admit guilt. The arbitrator then hears from all parties involved and prepares a contract detailing sanctions for the juvenile, including restitution, apology letters, community service, curfews and written reports, among other sanctions.

According to Eighth Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo, juvenile arbitration is rewarding for everyone involved.

“Juvenile arbitration is one of the best things that we get to do in my office,” Solicitor Stumbo said. “For the volunteer arbitrators, it is an opportunity as a citizen to make a difference in the lives of wayward youth. For the juvenile offenders who find themselves in the crosshairs of prosecution, it is an opportunity to make things right with those who they have victimized and be restored back to the community, hopefully not to offend again.”

Eighth Circuit Juvenile Arbitration Director Julie Bledsoe said it has been her experience that the arbitrators are often impacted just as much, if not more, than the juvenile offenders who enter the program.

“What I have seen time and time again is a person volunteers to be an arbitrator to make a difference in the lives of young people in their community,” Bledsoe said. “But every arbitrator who hears cases ends up saying they feel like they get more than they give when they serve as a juvenile arbitrator. It truly is a great community program that blesses everyone involved.”

Volunteers serve as arbitrators in the program. Hearings are scheduled to fit the volunteer’s schedule and last about an hour. Volunteers must be at least 21 years of age, possess a high school diploma or equivalent and have a clean criminal record. Volunteers must complete a 21-hour training course. The course will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays from May 3 to May 24. All classes will be held at the Eighth Circuit Solicitor’s Office, located at 600 Monument St. (Park Plaza) Suite 203, Greenwood.

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Julie Bledsoe at 864-942-8843.

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Career drug dealer sentenced to 25 years in prison

Greenwood, S.C.; April 11, 2018 – Eighth Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced Wednesday that a Greenwood drug dealer was sentenced to 25 years in prison following a trial at the Greenwood County Courthouse.

Dazzelle Demarcus Smith, 33, was found guilty of trafficking cocaine, third offense, possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine, third offense, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana following a trial that began on Monday and ended Tuesday morning.

Circuit Judge Frank Addy Jr. then sentenced Smith to 25 years on the trafficking cocaine charge, 20 years on the possession with intent to distribute crack charge, and 10 years on the possession with intent to distribute marijuana charge, with all sentences running concurrently. Trafficking cocaine is a serious and violent offense under state law and Smith must serve a minimum of 85 percent of the sentence before being considered for parole.

Smith has two prior convictions for trafficking crack cocaine.

In November 2016, officers were patrolling the area of Tanyard Avenue on foot when they observed Smith sitting alone in a vehicle that was illegally parked. As they approached the vehicle, officers could smell the odor of marijuana. The odor got stronger as they got closer to the vehicle.

Officers located Smith in the vehicle and could see marijuana in the driver side door handle. Officers asked Smith to exit the vehicle and began to search the vehicle. Officers located multiple plastic bags of marijuana totaling more 228 grams, multiple plastic bags of crack cocaine totaling more than five grams, and multiple baggies of cocaine totaling more than 40 grams.

Deputy Solicitor Yates Brown and Assistant Solicitor Anna Sumner prosecuted the case for the state with assistance from 8th Circuit Investigator Courtney Smith. Smith was represented by Bill Yarborough of the Greenville County Bar.

Solicitor Stumbo praised the work of his staff along with Sgt. Martin Harrelson, Sgt. Kenya Griffin, Senior Master Patrolman Cory Boyter, Private First Class Johnathan Vaughn of the Greenwood Police Department and Det. Whit Brooks of the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office in securing the conviction and lengthy prison sentence.

Smith’s sentence comes less than a week after another crack dealer was convicted of trafficking illegal drugs in the 8th Circuit and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Reginald Scurry was convicted last week in Newberry County on a charge of trafficking crack cocaine, third offense.

“We are seeing more death and misery than ever before from addiction to dangerous narcotics, and men like Dazzelle Smith have preyed upon those folks for profit,” Solicitor Stumbo said. “It is good to see a career drug dealer like Smith put behind bars where he belongs. My office will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder on the thin blue line with our brothers and sisters in law enforcement to keep our streets safe from thugs like Dazzelle Smith.”

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Long-time crack dealer sentenced to 25 years in prison

REGINALD R. SCURRY

Newberry, S.C.; April 9, 2018 – Eighth Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced Monday that a Cherokee County crack dealer was sentenced Thursday to 25 years in prison following a trial at the Newberry County Courthouse.

Reginald Rodezere Scurry, 42, of Gaffney, was found guilty Thursday of trafficking crack cocaine, 28-100 grams, third offense, and failure to stop for blue light following the trial. A Newberry County jury deliberated for less than two hours before returning the guilty verdicts.

Circuit Judge Frank Addy Jr. then sentenced Scurry to 25 years in prison. The crack cocaine charge is considered a serious and violent offense under state law and Scurry must serve a minimum of 85 percent of the sentence before being considered for parole.

In January of 2017, troopers with S.C. Highway Patrol clocked Scurry traveling 70 mph in a 55 mph zone on S.C. 56 near the intersection of Belfast Road. The troopers turned around and observed Scurry throw something out the passenger window of the vehicle. Troopers initiated a traffic stop and spoke to Scurry through the open passenger window. Scurry handed the trooper a S.C. identification card and then sped off.

Troopers pursued Scurry into Laurens County where he eventually led authorities down unpaved roads and was able to wedge a Kia vehicle, which belonged to his girlfriend, around a metal gate. The vehicle was later recovered and the registration card in the name of Scurry’s girlfriend was located in the vehicle. Troopers located a bag containing 82 grams of crack cocaine in the area where they observed Scurry throw an object out of his car window.

While out on bond awaiting trial in Newberry County, Scurry was arrested in Cherokee County in January of this year on drug trafficking charges. At the time of his arrest in Cherokee County, Scurry is alleged to have possessed crack cocaine in an amount warranting another trafficking charge. Scurry has several previous drug convictions, including one from 2010 in Richmond County, Georgia. Scurry was also acquitted of a trafficking crack cocaine charge in Cherokee County in January of this year.

Deputy Solicitor Dale Scott and Assistant Solicitor Taylor Daniel handled the case for the state with assistance from 8th Circuit Investigator Walter Bentley. Scurry was represented by the Newberry County Public Defender’s Office.

Solicitor Stumbo praised the work of his office as well as SCHP Lance Cpl. Kevin Lazar and Deputy Michael Stribble with Newberry County Sheriff’s Office in securing the conviction and lengthy prison sentence.

“Reginald Scurry has poisoned the streets of Upstate South Carolina for entirely too long, bringing misery and destruction to the doorsteps of his addicted clients and their families,” Solicitor Stumbo said following the trial. “I hope this conviction and lengthy prison sentence sends a message to other drug pushers that we will not their misery peddling on the streets of our communities.”

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Laurens pedophile sentenced to 25 years in prison

TITO MARIN

Laurens, S.C.; February 28, 2018 – Eighth Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced Wednesday that a Laurens man will spend the next 25 years in prison for sexually abusing two girls under the age of 12.

Tito Olan Marin, 42, entered guilty pleas Tuesday afternoon at the Laurens County Courthouse, after his case was called to trial by the State, on two counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor.

Circuit Judge Frank Addy Jr. then sentenced Marin to 25 years in prison on each of the charges, with the sentences to run concurrently.  Under South Carolina law, the sentence will be classified as a violent, “no-parole” offense, and will require Marin to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

In March 2017, a fourth-grade student was learning about “good touches and bad touches” and was observed to be weeping during some of the presentation. A teacher asked if she needed to talk and the student disclosed an assault at the hands of Marin in 2014. The school notified Department of Social Services, who then notified Laurens County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators began interviewing other family members of the victim. A cousin of the victim, without being told anything about the incident with the victim, told investigators Marin had raped her a number of years before, when she was 10 years old.

Both victims said Marin would put a pillow over their face and told them that their parents would not love them anymore if they told anyone what happened.

Deputy Solicitor Dale Scott handled the case for the state, with assistance from 8th Circuit Investigator Walter Bentley and Victim Advocate Rhetta Christian. Marin was represented by Anjelica Hernandez of the Greenville County Bar.

Solicitor Stumbo praised the work of his staff, along with Det. Jared Hunnicutt of the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office, in securing the conviction and lengthy prison sentence.

“Our society simply does not have any place for monsters like Tito Marin who prey on children to satisfy their own selfish desires,” Solicitor Stumbo said. “While I wish my office never had to prosecute a single case like this, it provides some measure of reassurance that this sexual predator is now off the streets for many years to come.”

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Laurens man sentenced to 15 years in prison for drug, property offenses

Bryan Roeker

Laurens, S.C.; February 21, 2018 – Eighth Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced Wednesday that a Laurens man was sentenced to 15 years in prison following a plea proceeding Tuesday at the Laurens County Courthouse.

Bryan Lee Roeker, 35, pleaded guilty Tuesday afternoon to charges of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, malicious injury to property, and resisting arrest in connection to an incident in July 2017.

Circuit Judge Donald Hocker accepted Roeker’s guilty plea and sentenced Roeker to 15 years in prison. Roeker had a lengthy criminal history that included numerous property offenses.

In July 2017, Roeker was attempting to break into the Cross Hill home of a 70-year-old woman. The woman went outside to feed her dog and spotted Roeker standing behind her residence. The woman immediately retreated back inside her house and called 911.

Deputies with Laurens County Sheriff’s Office spotted Roeker in the Cross Hill Town Park. When Roeker noticed the deputy approaching, he began to flee and ran inside the Cross Hill Volunteer Fire Department. Deputies waited outside the building and were able to apprehend Roeker after a brief struggle.

Assistant Solicitor Jim Todd handled the case for the state with assistance from 8th Circuit Investigator Joey Pittman and Victim Advocate Rhetta Christian. Roeker was represented by Ivan Toney of the Greenville County Bar.

Solicitor Stumbo praised the work of his staff along with Deputy Darin Boyd of LCSO in securing the conviction and prison sentence.

“I cannot say enough about the great work done by my staff along with Sheriff Don Reynolds and his deputies in getting this career criminal off the streets and behind bars where he belongs,” Solicitor Stumbo said following the proceeding. “We will continue to diligently pursue justice until we remove every menace to society like Bryan Roeker from the streets of our communities.”

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Abbeville County drug dealer sentenced to 12 years in prison

PHILLIP McGAHA

Abbeville, S.C.; February 20, 2018 – Eighth Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced Tuesday that an Abbeville County drug dealer will be spending the next 12 years in prison after he pleaded guilty Tuesday morning at the Abbeville County Courthouse to multiple charges.

Phillip Oscar McGaha, 45, pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of trafficking methamphetamines and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime in connection to a December 2016 incident.

Circuit Judge Eugene Griffith sentenced McGaha to 12 years in prison on the trafficking charge and five years in prison on the charge of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, with the sentences to run concurrently. McGaha has several prior drug convictions.

In December 2016, while following up on a missing persons case, deputies with Abbeville County Sheriff’s Office spotted McGaha, a female and a juvenile in a truck at the missing woman’s residence. The female told deputies she was there to retrieve a stolen motorcycle that was taken by the missing woman. Deputies observed a gun on the seat and smelled the odor of burnt marijuana in the truck.

Deputies searched the vehicle and located a burnt marijuana cigar and a pill bottle containing two small, plastic bags. The two bags contained in excess of 40 grams of methamphetamines.

Assistant Solicitor Wade Dowtin handled the case for the state, with assistance from 8th Circuit Investigator Chris Wilkie. Kami Granade of the Abbeville County Public Defender’s Office represented McGaha.

Solicitor Stumbo praised the work of his staff along with Lt. Matthew Graham and Sgt. Jeffrey Hines with the Abbeville County Sheriff’s office in securing the conviction and lengthy prison sentence.

“Meth has burdened our communities for far too long,” Solicitor Stumbo said following the plea proceeding. “People like Phillip McGaha who don’t have enough respect for their neighbors and fellow citizens to not peddle their poison on the streets belong in prison. Phillip McGaha will spend the next dozen years there and my staff will continue to work with Sheriff Ray Watson and his deputies to remove meth and other illegal drugs from the streets of our communities.”

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Long-time drug dealer sentenced to 15 years in prison

GERALD NIX

Greenwood, S.C.; February 12, 2018 – Eighth Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced Monday that a long-time Greenwood drug dealer was sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty Monday to charges of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine and resisting arrest.

Gerald Nix, 37, of Greenwood, chose to enter the guilty pleas Monday morning rather than facing a jury trial scheduled to be called by the state this week.  Circuit Judge Frank Addy Jr. accepted the plea and sentenced Nix to 15 years in prison.

Nix had several prior drug convictions on his criminal record, including at least two prior convictions for distribution of illicit substances.

In May 2017, law enforcement officers spotted Nix immediately following a shooting walking along Taggart Avenue in Greenwood. Nix matched the description of the shooter and had on the same type of clothing as the shooter. Officers stopped to speak with Nix and found him in possession of some crack cocaine and a large amount of cash.

When officers discovered the drugs, Nix attempted to flee. Officers were able to restrain Nix and stop him from fleeing, but Nix continued to struggle until officers were able to get handcuffs on him.

Assistant Solicitor Josh Thomas handled the case for the state with the assistance of 8th Circuit Inv. Courtney Smith. Nix was represented by Tristan Shaffer of the Greenwood County Public Defender’s Office.

Solicitor Stumbo praised the work of Thomas and Smith in preparing the case for trial, as well as Senior Master Patrolman Cory Boyter of the Greenwood Police Department who made the arrest.

“The Greenwood community got a little safer today as we removed yet another poison pusher from the streets,” Solicitor Stumbo said.  “My office will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with law enforcement until we remove this threat to health of our children and safety of our neighborhoods.”

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Newberry man facing 15 years for sexual abuse of teen

CRAIG C. BUSSE

Newberry, S.C.; February 8, 2018 – Eighth Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced Thursday that a Newberry man was sentenced to 15 years in prison late Wednesday afternoon after a Newberry County jury returned a verdict of guilty for second degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor. Continue reading

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Child predator sentenced to 18 years in prison

TREMAINE V. DANIELS

Greenwood, S.C.; February 8, 2018 – Eighth Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced Thursday that a 28-year-old Greenwood man will be spending the next 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually abusing a young girl. Continue reading

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Domestic abuser facing 18 years in prison

TRAVIS SENTELL WILLIAMS

Greenwood, S.C.; February 5, 2018 – Eighth Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced Monday that a Greenwood man has pleaded guilty to aggravated domestic violence and sentenced to 18 years in prison, just days before his case was scheduled to be called to trial. Continue reading

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