Flu outbreak at SC prison delays hearing in Rock Hill beating case

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comJanuary 22, 2014 

It likely will be another three months before a Rock Hill man sentenced in the severe beating of his ex-girlfriend and her son will tell a judge why he deserves a new trial. A flu outbreak at the state Department of Corrections has placed state inmates on lockdown.

Twenty-eight inmates suffered from the flu between Jan. 8 and Tuesday, corrections spokesman Clark Newsom said.

Lee Correctional Institution, where Danny Ray Pittman, 34, is housed, was placed on lockdown Tuesday, meaning no inmates could be moved into or out of the facility.

Pittman did not have the flu, Newsom said, but he was confined to his cell due to the lockdown.

The lockdown has since been lifted, but Pittman’s hearing initially scheduled for Wednesday has been delayed, officials said, likely until April.

Pittman has filed an application for post-conviction relief, which allows defendants convicted of crimes to lobby for a new trial based on allegations that their lawyers ineffectively represented them.

In December 2012, Pittman was sentenced to 25 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to beating his ex-girlfriend, Kimberly Dawn Faile-Bryant, so severely that she continues to suffer from memory loss and intense headaches. He also attacked her son, Christopher Faile, 16.

Though neither mother nor son could recall the Feb. 1, 2012, assault, Faile-Bryant testified that she saw Pittman standing over her the night of the attack. Deputies responding to the assault noticed her Kia Sorento missing and tracked it to Horry County, where Pittman was found in a mobile home park. His clothes were stained with Christopher Faile’s blood.

Pittman argues that his attorney, 16th Circuit Public Defender Harry Dest, did not adequately represent him. He also claims he gained nothing from his deal to plead guilty because he is serving the maximum sentence allowable.

Unlike most criminal court proceedings, the burden of proof rests with the defendant. During the hearing, Pittman will be able to call witnesses and present new evidence not introduced in his original plea hearing.

The state Attorney General’s Office represents the state at such hearings. Assistant Attorney General Rutledge Johnson said he planned to call Dest to testify.

On Wednesday, Faile-Bryant said waiting until April is “very stressful.” She does not want Pittman to earn a new trial, and has written to state lawmakers to tell them that PCR hearings for defendants who pleaded guilty wastes taxpayer money.

Jonathan McFadden •  803-329-4082

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