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Published on December 17th, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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STATEMENT OF FIFTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT SOLICITOR DAN JOHNSON

Columbia, SC – On October 26, 2015, there was an incident at Spring Valley High School involving former Richland County Sheriff’s Deputy Ben Fields, who was then on duty as a School Resource Officer (SRO), and a sixteen (16) year old female student. This incident resulted in the juvenile student being petitioned to Family Court (Juvenile Court) for the offense of Disturbing Schools and Assault on an Officer while Resisting Arrest. The student was not detained (jailed), but instead released to her guardians. As a result of the actions of another student, Niya M. Kenny was arrested and charged in Summary (Magistrate) Court with Disturbing Schools, an unclassified misdemeanor. She was released on a Personal Recognizance (PR) bond. Because Niya Kenny is eighteen (18) years old, she is an adult and her case will be handled in the Pontiac Magistrate Court.

Immediately following the classroom incident, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott and I, as Fifth Circuit Solicitor, requested that this incident and the actions of Ben Fields and others be investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and not by local law enforcement agencies. At present, the FBI’s investigation is ongoing. Until we receive the FBI’s findings at the conclusion of their investigation, the incident involving Ben Fields is not a pending case within the Richland County Solicitor’s Office.

Please be advised that the cases involving the students and the FBI investigation involving Ben Fields are inextricably linked. Therefore, while one is under investigation, the others cannot be resolved and will not go forward. No prosecution decisions in these cases will be made, nor can they be fairly made, until all investigations are complete, and all evidence is collected and assessed according to the relevant laws.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind our citizens of the mission of the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office. Our mission is to serve as ministers of justice in the fair and diligent prosecution of citizens charged with criminal offenses occurring in the Fifth Judicial Circuit, thereby preserving peace, safety and dignity for all citizens of this Circuit. Every case within this Circuit is prosecuted on the basis of evidence. I do not simply decide cases based upon feelings, public opinion or sentiment, nor do I decide them based on political pressure. And, I believe, that is what all citizens expect from their Solicitor. While I am encouraged that the public is engaged and interested in this process, I feel compelled to remind the community that public sentiment, petitions, chain letters and calling campaigns are effective tools for impacting legislation and changing the law. However, the Solicitor’s Office is not where the law is made. Our duty is to prosecute cases or to decline the prosecution of cases based only on evidence and in accordance with the law, not based upon majority opinion nor public outcry. The cases involving the juvenile student and Niya Kenny, as with all other cases pending in the Fifth Circuit, shall be decided fairly, based upon the legal evidence in each case and in accordance with the laws of this State.

RICHLAND COUNTY MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO ARMED ROBBERY AND IS IMPRISONED FOR 30 YEARS

Columbia, SC – In Richland County, Ozzie Carreker plead guilty to armed robbery, attempted murder, kidnapping and possession of a weapon and was sentenced to 30 years in prison by the Honorable Howard King.

On November 9, 2012, Ozzie Carreker and three other individuals entered the Wells Fargo Bank on Two Notch Road brandishing multiple handguns and an assault rifle, and wearing bandannas and hoodies. Bank employees for forced at gunpoint to open the vault and instructed to fill a trash bag with money, which they did. They were also able to place tracking units and die packs in the trash bag with the money. Carreker and his accomplices also took money from the teller drawer.

Shots were fired and the alarm was sounded while all four assailants were inside the bank. They fled the scene of the crime in a blue Ford Explorer heading southbound on Town Notch Road toward the Columbia area. As the suspects were fleeing the scene Richland County Sheriff Deputies spotted the vehicle and began pursuit. This resulted in a high speed chase, with shots being fired, through a residential area.

All four assailants were apprehended, and both video from the bank and statements from Carreker and his co-defendants indicate that this was a planned robbery in which all four actively participated.

Co-defendant Ramell Wright is deceased. Co-defendant Rashad Hall was sentenced to thirty-five (35) years for this robbery, as well as a series of un-related robberies. Hall, who was on bond for armed robbery at the time of this offense pled to 35 years at the beginning of a scheduled trial in order to avoid a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Co-defendant Na’Im Stroman is awaiting trial.

Carreker plead guilty to armed robbery, which carries 0-30 years, three counts of attempted murder (attempted murder carries 0-30 years), and six counts of kidnapping (a charge which also carries 0-30 years); as well as possession of a weapon, which carries up to five years. Carreker pled guilty and was sentenced at the Richland County Judicial Center.

For more information please contact 803.576.1802.

 

RICHLAND COUNTY MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO FELONY DUI AND IS IMPRISONED FOR 20 YEARS

Columbia, SC – In Richland County, Arthuro Rios Torres pled guilty to Felony DUI Resulting in Death, Leaving the Scene with Death, Leaving the Scene with Property Damage and Habitual Traffic Offender. Torres pled guilty in front of the Honorable Judge Howard King and was sentenced to twenty (20) years.

On Saturday, April 11, 2015, Arthuro Rios Torres caused a multiple car collision on Percival Road. Torres was driving at approximately 55 mph when he rear-ended a 2003 Explorer Sport Trac and sent that vehicle into oncoming traffic. The Explorer then collided head on with another vehicle, a 2012 Scion, driven by Ms. Roxina Mack. The force of the collision caused the defendant’s Ford Econoline to overturn in a ditch, and caused severe and extensive damage to the other vehicles. Although the other drivers sustained minor bodily injury, Ms. Roxina Mack sustained severe blunt trauma to her body and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Witnesses at the scene of the collision saw the defendant crawl from his vehicle and flee the scene. Officers from the Columbia Police Department apprehended Torres and brought him back to the scene. Given the strong odor of alcohol on Torres’ breath, police administered field sobriety tests. Torres was arrested and charged with felony DUI resulting in death, leaving the scene with death, leaving the scene with property damage and being an habitual traffic offender.

The defendant was transported to Richland Memorial Hospital, and a blood draw was performed approximately six (6) hours after the collision. At that time, the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration was still .12 (legal limit is .08). SLED toxicologists estimated that his blood alcohol concentration was anywhere between .17 – .22 at the time of the collision.

Torres received a sentence of twenty (20) years for felony DUI resulting in death, twenty (20) years for leaving the scene with death, one (1) year for leaving the scene with property damage and five (5) years on the habitual traffic offender charge.

For more information please contact 803.576.1802.

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