Rock Hill man gets 6 years for threats, throwing fluids at jailers

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comJune 20, 2013 

— Jerome Anderson threw urine and feces and spit at jail guards who tried to give him food and medicine days after he threatened to kill a judge and two police officers, prosecutors say.

But his tirades stem from months without medication to treat his documented bipolar disorder, turning the U.S. Navy veteran and college graduate into a man police officers said they feared would eventually act on his life-threatening promises, according to Anderson’s defense attorney.

In a York County courtroom Thursday, Anderson, 58, pleaded guilty to six counts of throwing bodily fluids and three counts of threatening the life of a public official. He will spend the next six years behind bars followed by five years’ probation. He received credit for 236 days he served at the York County jail.

Last October, police arrested Anderson after the manager of Park Grocery on East Main Street in Rock Hill said he stuffed a $15 wig in his bag, according to police documents. The manager declined to press charges, although Anderson had been accused of trespassing at the store before.

Police arrested him and placed him in the Rock Hill jail. The next day, on his way to a bond hearing, he called a female officer a profane name before threatening her because he was unhappy with how long he waited for his hearing, said Leslie Robinson, assistant 16th Circuit Court solicitor.

After a magistrate set bond, Anderson threatened the judge, Robinson said. As officers led him out of the courtroom, Anderson told them he was going to “kill” cops.

He was charged with three counts of threatening the life of a public official and taken to the York County Detention Center, where he was placed under medical observation in a suicide-watch cell.

For the next three days, Anderson threw cups and plates of urine and spit on detention center officers who tried to give him food and medicine, Robinson said.

Lucas Frame, a detention center officer, said he was at the receiving end of Anderson’s tosses while trying to serve him lunch.

Prosecutors played a video of Frame approaching Anderson’s cell as Anderson reached through a food tray flap and threw a cup at Frame, splattering the contents on his uniform, boots and pants.

“I was fortunate not to have it land in my mouth,” Frame said.

In court on Thursday, Frame joined Rock Hill police officers and York County Detention Center guards – all of whom shared past experiences with Anderson.

Former Rock Hill Police Officer James Rowland was one of the officers Anderson threatened to kill on his way from a city court bond hearing back to jail.

“I took it very seriously,” he said.

Officer William Thomas said he and Anderson had a cordial relationship, but he often fielded concerned calls from store patrons and shop owners who said Anderson threatened them.

Police officers feared Anderson would act on his threats, said Rock Hill Police Maj. Steve Parker.

Confrontations with Anderson typically ended with fights, and even a Taser once, he said.

Kevin Brackett, 16th Circuit solicitor, asked the judge to send a message to inmates who “engage in this type of behavior.”

Brackett added that Anderson’s threats were serious and his fluid-throwing “calculated.”

Until he was diagnosed as bipolar with psychotic features, Anderson was a productive member of society, said Melissa Inzerillo, his public defender. He served in the Navy until his honorable discharge and graduated from South Carolina State University with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. He worked at General Tire for 12 years.

Since 1996, he’s been admitted to mental health facilities 10 times. His rages, she said, didn’t start until his 2011 release from prison after serving time for a strong-arm robbery conviction. He returned to Rock Hill with a day’s worth of prescribed medication.

For the next year, he and his fiancée visited various mental health agencies and Piedmont Medical Center in an attempt to get him effective medication.

Their efforts were moot, Inzerillo said, adding that Anderson in July 2012 asked police to arrest him so he could go to the hospital. Doctors gave him a 15-day supply of medicine that quickly ran out.

“He tried hard to get his medication,” she said.

By July, Anderson developed paranoia, she said. By October, when he’s accused of throwing fluids and threatening police, he was unable to describe his “mania.”

When police officers delivered Anderson to the York County Detention Center, a detention center officer asked whether he had taken medications. No, was the answer, Inzerillo said, indicating “that they knew he was on medicine.”

But detention center officers said Anderson often refused to take medicine in prison.

Linda Davis, Anderson’s fiancée, told the judge she understands the “severity of the charges” but that Anderson is capable of being a “vital help to society.”

“When he’s on medication, he’s a better person,” she said.

She begged that he receive the mental health help he needs.

“James is not a violent person,” she said. “James is very vocal” when he feels wronged.

“We really don’t want to see him pass away in jail,” said Stephen Jennings, Anderson’s oldest child.

After minutes of silence, Judge R. Knox McMahon acknowledged that bipolar disorder is a disease “like some people can have heart disease.” It’s treatable, but not curable, he said.

But, “behavior has consequences,” he said. He handed down his verdict and required that Anderson receive substance abuse and mental health treatment and random drug and alcohol testing after his release from prison.

Before he left the courtroom, Anderson apologized to the officers he threatened and “assaulted.”

“I don’t remember threatening anybody,” he said. “And the ones I assaulted I remember, but I don’t know why.”

Jonathan McFadden •  803-329-4082

The Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service