Man accused in Rock Hill gay attack granted bond

nsmith@heraldonline.comOctober 7, 2011 

— A man accused of beating a gay man at a Rock Hill convenience store in April was granted bond Thursday morning on an unrelated probation violation charge.

Judge Lee Alford set a $50,000 bond for Bobby Wilson, 31, after determining Wilson should be able to assist in his defense. Defense attorney Sean Cronin said Wilson has been serving time since his late April arrest and asked for a reasonable bond.

Probation agent Kelly Atkins asked that Wilson be denied bond and cited several probation violations, including meeting with others on probation, going to bars and drinking excessively, eventually hitting a man in the head with a beer bottle.

Wilson already has a $5,000 bond in the April 9 beating of 20-year-old Joshua Esskew. Wilson was charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature in the attack.

Esskew was walking into the Spot Convenience Store at 990 S. Cherry Road for a drink when a man yelled a gay slur at him, according to York County Sheriff's Office reports.

After Esskew confronted them, one man hit Esskew in the back of the head with a bottle. Several other men ran toward them and began attacking Esskew, the report stated.

Four others - Cortezio Laquise Douglas, 21, LaJames Mitchell, 22, Darenco Markie Wilmore, 21, and Lortarius Duncan, 22 - were also charged in the incident.

Wilson is the only one still in Moss Justice Center.

The FBI said it was investigating the assault as a hate crime. On Thursday, the U.S. Attorney's Office in South Carolina said the case is under review.

Alford noted Wilson's "pretty substantial record," including a charge of accessory after the fact of a felony. That charge was the reason for Thursday's hearing.

If he posts bond, Wilson will be placed under house arrest with his mother in Fort Mill, where he may leave only to go to court, church, meet with his attorney, visit the doctor's and work, should he find employment, Alford said.

Esskew was recently accused of illegally using a Rock Hill minister's credit card at a Family Dollar Store. He has been charged with financial transaction card fraud, according to Rock Hill police reports.

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Nicole E. Smith 803-329-4068