Judge reduces bond in Rock Hill motorcyclist hit-and-run case

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comJune 20, 2013 

— A judge on Thursday decided the $200,000 bond a city magistrate set on a man accused in connection with a hit-and-run that severely injured a Rock Hill motorcyclist last month was too “excessive.”

Christopher Levon Franklin, 31, is one of two men police said crashed into Joshua Reynolds – a firefighter with the Lesslie Volunteer Fire Department – and left the scene of the accident. They say he then hid the car behind a home. He now has a $100,000 bond.

But even after Circuit Court Judge Steven John reduced Franklin’s bond, his brother, Jamar Franklin, said he was unsure if his brother would be able to foot the bill for his release.

“It might help,” he said.

On May 8, police responded to an accident at the intersection of Mount Gallant and Celanese roads involving a Yamaha R-6 motorcycle and an early 2000s model Infiniti. When authorities arrived, they found Reynolds, 23, in the roadway suffering from severe injuries.

Reynolds was taken to Carolinas Medical Center. Meanwhile, police took statements from witnesses and searched for the Infiniti. They found the car behind a house on Farlow Street, off Mount Gallant.

They also found Franklin, who prosecutors on Thursday said jumped into the car’s driver’s seat and drove off after the accident. Police charged Franklin and Jeremy Cord Mobley, 25, with leaving the scene of an accident.

Franklin was additionally charged with driving under suspension and operating an uninsured motor vehicle, police said. Mobley faces added charges for operating an uninsured motor vehicle, driving under suspension and operating a vehicle with a suspended tag.

They faced $200,000 bonds each, which Franklin has been unable to pay, his lawyer, Rock Hill attorney Michael Brown, said.

Police obtained video from the nearby BiLo showing that Mobley drove the car minutes before the accident and that Franklin was his passenger, said Ryan Newkirk, assistant 16th Circuit Court solicitor.

According to witnesses willing to testify, Mobley ran from the scene while Franklin got into the car and drove away, leaving Reynolds in the roadway “to die,” Newkirk said. “(Franklin) was an active participant.”

Reynolds suffered from a compound fracture in his leg, broken ribs and a collapsed lung, Newkirk said. He also has to eat through a feeding tube.

He suffered a subdural hematoma that doctors said they would be unable to operate on, his mother, Sandy Reynolds, said. Instead, they gave him medicine to reduce the swelling caused by the blood buildup on his brain.

“By the grace of God,” he’s alive today, she said, although “his life has been turned upside-down” and the people who love him are unsure “if he’ll ever be himself again.”

“These two guys left my son to die,” said Rick Reynolds, Joshua Reynolds’ father. “They just left him.”

Brown denied that Franklin ever drove the car, stressing that police only have video of what occurred before the accident.

Brown said Franklin, who is wanted out of Georgia for failure to pay a fine, works at Burger King, where he is head chef. If he succeeds in making bond, he can return to work, Brown said.

He also said Franklin is a father of two children and owns the Farlow Street house where police accuse him of stashing the car.

John said the bond reduction hearing isn’t meant to try the case or determine Franklin’s innocence or guilt.

“The purpose of a bond is to make sure the person appears in court,” he said before stressing that he considered the bond set by the city too high.

Should he post bond, Franklin is unable to leave York County without written permission of the court, John said.

Mobley’s case is still pending. He remains in jail on a $200,000 bond.

“Chris has a lot going for himself,” said Jamar Franklin, Christopher Franklin’s brother. “I know he wouldn’t have done anything like this. He’s a God-fearing person; he’s not the type of person to leave someone to die.”

Joshua Reynolds’ family declined to comment after the hearing.

Jonathan McFadden •  803-329-4082

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