ROCK HILL — For the second time in two weeks, a murder charge in a Rock Hill killing has been dropped before the case reached court and the dismissal has again infuriated the family of the victim.
Desmond King, 26, was arrested April 26 and charged with murder in the January beating death of his neighbor on Orr Drive, 65-year-old Alexander Boot Hardin.
He was to appear at a May 30 probable cause hearing, but prosecutors dropped the charge a day earlier, Willy Thompson, 16th Circuit deputy solicitor, said Wednesday. They maintained the right to resubmit the charges.
Late Monday, prosecutors dropped a murder charge against another Rock Hill man in what authorities say is an unrelated April killing on Taylor Street in Rock Hill.
Hardins brother, Donald Lee Hardin, called the dismissal of the murder charge against King a disgrace.
This man was in jail for killing my brother, said Hardin, who lives just down the street from where his brother lived and King lives. It is like the police are not doing anything about it. This is a dangerous person and the police know that. What kind of system are they running?
Thompson, the prosecutor, said he remains confident that the ongoing police investigation will solve both pending cases.
In the case of Hardins death, Kings lawyer said Rock Hill police made a rush to judgment in arresting King.
The evidence against him was a letter written by an inmate in a North Carolina jail who previously had been in jail in York County with King, said B.J. Barrowclough, York County deputy public defender.
The letter claimed King confessed, Barrowclough said, but authorities later learned that the inmate had fought with King while in the York jail and made threats to set up King.
Also, DNA found on the baseball bat that was used to beat Hardin to death did not match Kings, Barrowclough said. King was arrested before the DNA testing came back, he said.
When King appeared in court after his arrest in April, he told the judge that police got the wrong person; theyll have to go right back.
Thompson would only say new evidence was found in the Hardin killing but would neither confirm nor deny any statements about evidence because the case is pending.
Certainly, new evidence came to light that was exculpatory to Mr. King, Thompson said.
Rock Hill Police spokesman Lt. Brad Redfearn declined to comment on the evidence in the Hardin case or the timeline of the arrest. He said the department continues to investigate both killings.
Police still consider both men suspects in the pending murder cases, Redfearn said.
In both of the cases, each case has the right to restore, Redfearn said. Both people are still viable suspects in the active and ongoing investigation into both homicides.
King has a pending robbery charge against him from an incident that also happened at Hardins home on Orr Drive Jan. 22 four days before Hardin was killed there.
In that case, arrest warrants allege, King stole a duffel bag containing more than $6,000 from a different victim at the address. In that incident police allege King struck the victim in the back of the head, knocked him to the ground, and kicked him repeatedly.
Probable cause against King in that pending robbery case was found by a judge after a hearing, Thompson said.
King was transferred Tuesday to Kirkland Correctional Institution to serve a 201-day sentence after pleading guilty March 22 to a second offense of cocaine possession, Clark Newsom, spokesman for the state Department of Corrections, said.
Court records show that King owed more than $10,000 in child support for two children at the time he was arrested for murder. State Law Enforcement Division records show King has served time in prison for selling cocaine near a school, failure to report back to jail after work release, and possession of cocaine.
Kings mother, reached at the family home across the street from where Hardin was beaten to death, declined to comment Wednesday on the dismissal of the murder charge against her son.
Andrew Dys 803-329-4065