ANDERSON, S.C. (WSPA) – Prosecutors have dropped murder charges against 7 people accused of being involved in a deadly drive-by shooting in Anderson County last year.
In a press conference last November, the Anderson County Sheriff’s office called their arrests a gang round up. The sheriff claimed it was part of an escalation of retaliations among gangs. Their charges stemmed from a deadly drive by shooting on West Whitner Street last July that killed Roytavus Blanding.
“This is a dangerous where these individuals are going after somebody else that’s not connected, now they’re shooting at house and that’s dangerous,” said Sheriff John Skipper at the 2015 press conference. “That’s why we’ve got them in the jail and do our effort to keep them in the jail.”
Recently, the 10th Circuit Solicitor decided all 7 suspects should be freed from their murder charges, pending further investigation.
Hervery Young, a public defender and one of several attorneys to represent the suspects, says he wasn’t surprised to hear the news.
“I was really happy that they were dismissed and I anticipated that it would happen anyway,” Young said. “I think they were hoping that if they arrest all of these people who they could at least identify as being in these automobiles that hopefully it would work out.”
Attorneys believe investigators never had enough evidence to build a strong case against them.
Young says in a preliminary hearing, investigators testified they had videos from before and after, but none of the actual shooting. They also never recovered the gun used to kill Blanding.
“This was a case that would be difficult for the state to pursue,” he explained. “There were multiple people involved in this incident. There were multiple guns. There were shootings coming from the cars going down the road and shootings from the home.”
All of the suspects already served some time in jail. But, Young says his client is now in good spirits and he believes this case showcases the justice system working well.
“I think that is the system working to make sure that people who have not been involved in crimes are not falsely accused of committing crimes they didn’t commit,” he said.
According to public records, the charges were dismissed for Deandra Kayoka Burriss, Bryan Lesean Garrison, Dacquanna Nasheree Goss, Tanisa Lysontorio Hailey, Richard Terrell Hailey, Tyrek Lavar Jones and Kendrick Kenajee Kay.
The Anderson County Sheriff’s office directed any comments on the charges being dismissed to the Solicitor’s office. The 10th circuit solicitor isn’t talking about why they dropped the charges. You can read the solicitor’s statement below:
“Following its initial homicide investigation of Roytavus Blanding, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office issued murder warrants for multiple people. Those warrants have now been dismissed pending further investigation by the ACSO leading to any additional evidence that would support convictions in this case. If such evidence comes to light, new charges may be refiled and our office will evaluate them at that time. As this is considered an ongoing investigation, my office will have no further comment at this time.”