October 16, 2012

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Walhalla, SC. Tommy Joe Cooper pled guilty today in Oconee General Sessions Court to 5 counts of Burglary, 2nd Degree (Violent). The Honorable Lawton McIntosh sentenced him to 15 years on each count to be served concurrently.

 

Between September 2010 and February 2012, the defendant broke into 4 of his neighbors’ outbuildings taking tools, lawnmowers, chainsaws, blowers and other assorted items. Some of the property was located at a nearby pawn shop. Cooper had previously served time in prison for burglaries committed on the same properties in 1989.

 

“I want to thank law enforcement for their efforts in tracking down the person responsible for this string of burglaries,” said Solicitor Chrissy Adams.  “I have no doubt that if Tommy Cooper had not been caught and arrested he would still be out there today committing additional crimes.  Today’s guilty plea and sentence, however, mean that instead of stealing further from his neighbors, he will be locked behind bars and unable to victimize our community any further.”

 

 

October 16, 2012

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. Just before opening statements began this morning, Tyson Tyrone Watt plead guilty in Oconee County General Sessions Court to Assault & Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature. The Honorable Lawton McIntosh sentenced Watt to 20 years suspended to 15 years in prison and 5 years probation to follow. Watt was also sentenced to 5 years (to be served concurrently) for Possession of a Weapon during the Commission of a Violent Crime.

 

On May 2, 2011, Tevin Lewis was visiting some friends on East Main Street in Seneca. The defendant came by and engaged in a verbal argument with Lewis. Watt left the location but returned approximately an hour later armed with a gun. Watt shot Lewis and as Lewis was retreating, Watt shot him a second time. The victim was later airlifted to Greenville Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

 

“Nothing good ever comes from bringing a gun to an argument,” said Solicitor Chrissy Adams.  “It is fortunate that today’s hearing was for an assault charge and not murder.  This was a violent crime deserving of a stiff penalty.  As such, we are pleased that today’s sentence will place the defendant behind bars for the next decade and a half and serve as a reminder to all criminals that gun violence will land you in prison.”

May 24, 2012

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. Branden Newton pled guilty today in Anderson General Sessions Court to Unlawful Conduct toward a Child. The Honorable Alex Macaulay sentenced Newton to 10 years suspended to 6 months home incarceration and 5 years probation. Newton will be placed on the Child Abuse Central Registry.

 

On April 21, 2010, EMS responded to 119 Jacob Road in Anderson to a call regarding an injured 5-month old baby. Branden Newton told responders that the child had fallen off the couch onto a carpeted floor. The defendant refused EMS transport to the hospital, but later admitted the child to AnMed Hospital. X-rays revealed 2 separate skull fractures as well as partially healed fractures from two prior incidents.  Once confronted by investigators that skull fractures do not occur from a fall from a couch, Newton changed his story and claimed that the infant fell from a counter in the kitchen onto a linoleum floor.  A child abuse expert who examined the child stated that the skull fractures this infant received would also not result from a fall from a kitchen counter. 

 

SLED was called in to investigate the case since Newton was employed as a 911 dispatcher for Anderson County.  The infant was examined by a child abuse expert in Columbia who stated that the injuries the child had sustained were consistent with abuse and that these injuries would not have resulted from either a fall from a couch or from a fall from a kitchen counter.

 

“The abuse Mr. Newton inflicted upon this helpless infant, coupled with his repeated attempts to cover up the truth in order to avoid responsibility when confronted by law enforcement, are reprehensible,” stated Solicitor Chrissy Adams.  “We are very disappointed in today’s sentence.  The defendant’s actions called for an active prison sentence as the State requested.”

VICTIM-WITNESS ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

 

Anderson County
(864) 260-4288  
Oconee County
(864) 638-4233
 

The Victim-Witness Assistance Program was established in the Tenth Judicial Circuit (Anderson & Oconee Counties) in 1980. There are currently four victim advocates in the Anderson Office and one in the Oconee Office.  

 

The program is set up in accordance with guidelines written by the Victim Assistance Policy Committee. This committee established the operating standards for Solicitor-based Victim-Witness Assistance Programs to implement the Victim’s Bill of Rights, which was passed by the Legislature in 1978. The Victim Rights Constitutional Amendment and Implementing Legislation were passed by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1997 and 1998. The Victim-Witness Program is required by law to attempt to notify victims, should they wish to be notified, of all proceedings in a case.


Rights of Victims and Witnesses

  • The Right to Reparation
  • The Right to Treatment with Dignity and Compassion
  • The Right to Preservation of Property and Employment
  • The Right to Protection from Intimidation and Harm
  • The Right to Due Process in Criminal Court Proceedings
  • The Right to Knowledge of the Criminal Justice Process
  • The Right to Special Recognition for the Very Young, Elderly, Handicapped and Others with Special needs


What is the Role of a Victim Advocate?



When a crime occurs, the "State" (represented by the Solicitor or one of his assistants) prosecutes the case. The Victim-Witness Assistance Unit of the Solicitor’s Office aids crime victims by offering many services that are confidential and free of charge.

Advocates inform victims of their rights. They act as liaisons between the victims and other agencies. They attend court hearings with victims or attend on their behalf. They inform victims of hearing dates, case updates, and defendant’s sentences. They set up pretrial conferences upon a Solicitor’s request and attend them. They attend hearings when requested to attend by the victim or their family.


During the time it takes to prepare a case for court, the Victim Advocate will keep you informed about your case and provide help that includes:

  • Crime to court information
  • Application for Reimbursement for medical expenses and lost wages
  • Victim impact statement
  • Preparation for court appearance
  • Employer contact when needed
  • Emergency community agency referrals
  • Counseling and follow-up
  • Restitution

Contact Us
  • If you want to be kept informed of the progress of your case
  • If you have questions about bond hearings
  • If you need help with medical, funeral or counseling expenses
  • If you have fears about your involvement in the case
  • If you have been threatened or harassed contact either the City Police or Sheriff Department that has jurisdiction over the incident location.
  • If you need the help of a community service agency or assistance with explanation of your case to your employer

Frequently Asked Questions

If the defendant is able to get a bond will I be notified of his/her release from jail?

Yes, if you have given your correct information to the reporting officer stating you wanted to be notified or if you notify the Anderson County Detention Center of your wishes.

My home was broken into and I have to replace the items. Who will pay for them?
There is no funding available for stolen or damaged personal property. However, you can request the Judge who sentences the defendant after he is found guilty, or pleads guilty, to order the defendant to reimburse you for your loss. Depending on the circumstances, the Judge may or may not require the defendant to pay restitution. You can also seek the advice of a civil attorney to attempt to regain your losses. 

If I fail to return my Victim Impact Statement to the Victim Witness Office, will I automatically be contacted about events in my case?
No. You must return your Victim Impact Statement to us, as it is a "tool" used by our office to let us know you are interested in your case. Many victims prefer not to be notified or are not interested in their cases. The Victim Impact Statement is entered into the case file and lets the Solicitor and Victim Advocate know that you need to be notified. We cannot stress enough how important it is to return this document to our office, as without it, we will assume you are not interested in the case. 

I have moved out of state, will I still be notified?
Yes, as long as you inform us of your new telephone number and address we will attempt to notify all victims who have requested notification. 

How long is it going to take for my case to come to court? 
There is no definite time limit because there are many variables involved. A case that is set for trial will generally take longer due to the preparation involved. A defendant who pleads guilty would generally go to court more quickly. Cases at the Solicitor’s Office are processed by the date the warrant is received in our office. 

The defendant on my case pled guilty and was ordered to pay me restitution. I have not recovered any money or only received partial payment. What should I do?
Contact the local South Carolina Department of Probation and Parole office. It is their responsibility to collect and dispense restitution payments. They can be reached at 864.260.2230 for Anderson cases or 864.638.4255 for Oconee cases. 

I am afraid to look at the defendant but I want the Judge to know how the crime affected me. What can I do?
Someone from the Victim Witness Office would be glad to give a hand-written letter to the Judge or speak to the Judge on your behalf at a bond hearing or sentencing. A victim may have to testify if a case goes to trial. However, the Solicitor and Victim Advocate will do everything possible to alleviate your fears through conferences, trips to the courtroom, or guidance on testifying. The victim is always welcome to bring a friend or family member for support. 

Can I bring my children to court with me? 

Unless the child is a victim or witness and the Solicitor has requested they be in court, we suggest that you arrange a babysitter for youtime in court. Courtroom testimony has to be recorded so there should not be any unnecessary noise, talking, or movement court is in session. During trials, the whole day can be spent in the courtroom, so please have someone available outside the courtroom to be with your child. The State does not provide that service. 

Do I have to be present in court to prosecute the defendant?

The only time a victim is required to be in court is if they have been sent a Subpoena to appear. Generally, that occurs only in trials. The victim does not have to appear at bond hearings or guilty pleas. However, it is a victim’s right to be in court if so desired. 

I need to find out if my stolen items have been recovered. Can you help me?

No. You need to contact the investigating officer in your case. You should be able to get this information from the incident report filed in your case. 

My boyfriend has threatened to hurt me and he has hit me before. Can I get an Order of Protection?
Maybe. Orders of Protection are only available if you are living with, have lived with, married to, been married to, or had children with the person who has threatened you. If any other person such as a casual friend, neighbor, stranger, etc. threatens you, you would need to ask a Magistrate about obtaining a Restraining Order. The paperwork needed to file an Order of Protection must be picked up at the Anderson County Courthouse in the Family Court Clerk’s Office. The Anderson County Family Court has an employee whose function is to help victim(s) file for an Order of Protection. A victim may also receive assistance from a law enforcement victim advocate. 

Where do I park when I come to court? 
There is one-hour parking behind the Anderson County Courthouse and free all day parking in designated areas of downtown Anderson. Free parking is available at the Oconee County Courthouse.


COURT VISITS
School classes and community groups may come and observe the court process. Students are briefed on court procedures. The students will observe actual court cases - either a trial or guilty pleas. Seating is limited so advance notice is required.
In Anderson contact the Clerk of Court at 864-260-4053 for more information. In Oconee please contact the Clerk of Court at 864-638-4280.

 

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