(Anderson, SC).  A courthouse facility dog will soon be joining the Tenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office to help comfort and support victims and their families during the investigation and prosecution of crimes. Facility dogs are specially trained assistance dogs that work alongside a professional in a service capacity to assist many other people.  Facility dogs specially selected to work in the legal system are confident, affectionate, and comfortable having close physical contact, especially with children.  These dogs also have the temperament to be able to interact with all people from many walks of life in a high stress environment for extended periods of time. There are currently 87 courthouse facility dogs working in 28 states.  This will be the first courthouse facility dog in South Carolina. 

 

In the Tenth Circuit, the dog will help provide a sense of calm to anxious victims and witnesses during forensic interviews, meetings with prosecutors, and on the stand during trial.  Solicitor Chrissy Adams plans to have the new dog begin working in the Solicitor’s Office in November. The Solicitor’s Office has been selected to receive a dog through Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships. 

 

Assistant Solicitor Chelsey Moore will be the dog’s handler and primary caretaker. She will travel to CCI’s Southeast Facility at the end of October to undergo an intensive, two-week training with the new dog.  Prior to Moore’s arrival, the dog will have undergone two years of socialization and training.  He or she will be a bred and trained graduate of CCI, an Assistance Dogs International accredited organization.  Even though CCI facility dogs are valued at $50,000 at the time of their placement, CCI provides the dog, two weeks of training for the handler, the liability insurance, and on-going oversight of the team free of charge.

 

Courthouse Dogs Foundation founder Ellen O’Neill-Stephens, a retired senior deputy prosecuting attorney, and Executive Director Celeste Walsen, DVM, are coming from Washington state along with their own courthouse facility dog, Molly B., to provide onsite training for courthouse staff, lawyers and judges regarding the legal and practical aspects of including a facility dog in the investigation and prosecution of crimes.   The public is invited to meet with the Courthouse Dogs Foundation team and learn more about how these remarkable dogs help make the legal system more humane.  This presentation will take place on Friday, October 16th from 3:00-4:00 PM on the third floor of the Anderson County Courthouse. 

“We are honored to be the first Solicitor’s Office in the state to be selected for this program,” said Solicitor Chrissy Adams.  “We have made a concerted effort to bring innovation and new programs to the 10th Circuit.  This latest effort is another way that we can assist victims and ensure that we are doing all we can to bring to justice to the citizens in our community.”

 

(Anderson, SC). Julianne Westberry pled guilty on Thursday, October 16,  to the ill-treatment of animals in Anderson General Sessions Court. The Honorable Daniel Hall sentenced Westberry to 4 years suspended to 4 years of probation. She is to continue with mental health treatment and is restricted from having any animals.  

 

On June 18, 2014, the Belton Police Department received a call from an individual who had gone to Westberry’s residence at 306 Anderson Street in Belton to inquire about buying some furniture. This person knocked on the door and there was no response. At that time, the visitor noticed a strong odor and the presence of swarming flies and contacted law enforcement. When officers responded, they contacted the defendant by phone and she told them that she was out of town and there should be no one in the house except the cats. Based on the circumstances, officers entered the residence and observed a large number of dead cats in various stages of decomposition. There were others that were alive but appeared to be sick or diseased. In total, approximately 40 deceased cats were removed as well as 31 live cats which were seized by Animal Control. When questioned by law enforcement, Westberry stated that she had been operating a cat rescue and because of personal issues she had become overwhelmed with the large number of cats and found herself unable to care for them. She then decided to abandon both the cats and the residence.

 

(Anderson, SC).


Solicitor Chrissy Adams has released the following statement:


"There has been a great deal of discussion among the citizens of Anderson County concerning the shooting death of Leandus Pickens by Marcus Brown.  The ethical boundaries of my position as Solicitor prevent me from commenting on the facts of a pending case, and as such until today we were restricted from providing details of the investigation.  As we announce our decision in this case today, however, I believe it is important for the public to have a clear understanding of what the evidence gathered shows and why, based on those facts, the laws of our State dictate that my office not charge Marcus Brown.  

 

"I understand that the family of Leandus Pickens has been frustrated with the length of time required to reach a final charging decision, but it was crucial for this investigation to be as thorough and complete as possible, leaving no room for any remaining questions.  Therefore, it is only after the completion of an extensive investigation that the determination has been made that no charges are going to be brought against Marcus Brown.  

 

"Despite Deputy Coroner Don McCown’s initial opinions and speculations as stated in his Coroner’s report, my office, as well as the Sheriff’s Office and the Coroner’s Office are now in agreement that the Castle Doctrine applies and bars prosecution in this case. 

 

"The expertise of SLED experts, DNA analysts, fingerprint experts, and other members of law enforcement have all been brought to bear on analyzing the sequence of events that occurred the evening Mr. Pickens died.  The early speculation and misinformation reported by the media unfortunately gave the public at large a different version of the events than is supported by the science and facts that are now the realities of this extensive investigation. 

 

"A replica of the window was reconstructed and confirmed by way of reenactment that the entry could have occurred as Mr. Brown reported.  Items inside the home of Mr. Brown were printed to determine whether any additional evidence placed Mr. Pickens inside the home prior to the first 911 call by Marcus Brown.  No prints belonging to Mr. Pickens were found.  The trajectory of the bullet wound to Mr. Pickens is consistent with the statement of facts as was provided by Mr. Brown.  There is no evidence to suggest that Mr. Pickens was ever a welcome guest at the home of Mr. Brown that evening.  There are two 911 calls in this case, the first of which is made by Mr. Brown to ask for assistance due to an unwanted individual trying to enter his home.  The second of which is notifying the authorities that he, Mr. Brown, has shot someone.  Further, a third party statement of a guest at the home that evening corroborates the timeline of the events as reported by Mr. Brown.  Toxicology tests performed by SLED revealed no substances in the blood of Mr. Brown in samples taken the night of the incident, but the blood work of Mr. Pickens indicated he had a blood alcohol content of .186 %.  

 

"Our State has a law called the Protection of Persons and Property Act which is commonly referred to as the “Castle Doctrine”.  Under this Act an individual who is in their dwelling is presumed to have a reasonable fear of death or great bodily injury from a person who is forcibly entering their dwelling. That homeowner is justified in using deadly force against the person forcibly entering, and they are immune from criminal prosecution for using that force.  Because there is no credible evidence to suggest any other version of events aside from those initially reported by Mr. Brown, wherein Mr. Pickens was forcibly entering his home, my office, the Sheriff’s Office, and the Coroner’s Office are in agreement that Mr. Brown is immune from prosecution under the laws of our State.   

 

"Any death is tragic, and certainly Mr. Pickens’ loss of life is no exception, however, under the law, there was no criminal action on the part of Mr. Brown relating to this shooting death."

 

 

Solicitor Chrissy Adams

 

(Anderson, SC). The final defendant in the kidnapping, robbery and murder of C. J. Patel of Anderson, Zachary Gantt, was sentenced today in Anderson General Sessions Court. The Honorable R. Lawton McIntosh sentenced Gantt to 22 years on each of 3 charges, Voluntary Manslaughter, Kidnapping, and Armed Robbery and 5 years on Possession of a Weapon during the Commission of a Violent Crime. All sentences are to run concurrently. Gantt had pled guilty in November of 2014 and sentencing was deferred.  

 

Chandrakant (C.J.) Patel was last seen around 6 p.m. on July 1st, 2012, leaving the Exxon station a short distance from I85 on Clemson Boulevard. He and his family managed the station. He told one of the workers he would be back but he never returned. Mr. Patel’s car was found abandoned in Fair Play on July 3rd. His body was found July 11th in a wooded area off U.S. 29 a few miles from the Georgia state line. An investigation by the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office resulted in the arrest of Jeremiah Johnson, Zachary Gantt, Ezra Williams and Kendra Howell.