In a place he should be familiar with by now, 26-year-old Desmond King arrived in a courtroom again Friday.
King admitted to a judge he has never had a job, lives “with his momma and his grandmomma,” and has two children – but does not know how to spell their names.
Records show he is behind more than $10,000 in child support.
But King was in magistrate court Friday for something worse.
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Police went to his Moss Justice Center jail cell Thursday, brought him to Rock Hill and charged him with murder in connection with a January killing.
King had been in jail since Feb. 1, charged in connection with an unrelated robbery.
The victim in the killing, 65-year-old Vietnam veteran Alexander “Boot” Hardin, lived a few hundred feet away from where King lived on Orr Drive in Rock Hill.
Hardin was beaten to death, the arrest warrant states.
Hardin’s body was found Jan. 26, inside his Sunset Park home, within yards of where children dream and learn at an elementary school.
Rap sheet includes drugs, theft
Friday’s hearing was solely to explain to King the charges against him and to see if he qualified to apply for a public defender. It was not about setting bond – a magistrate cannot set bond in a murder case.
Only a Circuit Court judge can do that. A murder conviction carries a potential sentence of 30 years to life in prison.
State Law Enforcement Division records show King has served prison time for convictions on selling cocaine near a school, possessing cocaine and for not reporting back to jail after work release.
SLED and court records also show that King has been in the York County jail, on a $100,000 bond, since Feb. 1 for the alleged Jan. 31 robbery.
On one side of the courtroom Friday sat Hardin’s family and some friends. One guy wore a hat that showed he used to work at the same tire factory in Charlotte where Boot Hardin worked for more than 20 years.
King was brought into the courtroom, and almost immediately, his family members on the other side of the courtroom started talking to him, loudly.
Rock Hill Magistrate Ray Long was having none of the noise. He ordered a fleet of police officers, to “take them out of the courtroom, right now.” King’s family was escorted out.
Then Long said to King: “You don’t listen to them, you listen to me.”
Never had a job
Long asked King several questions. King’s answers said so much about crime in this city that police and judges and victims and hard-working people of all colors deal with each day.
King was asked if he had a job. He said he did not have a job.
The judge asked if he had ever had a job.
“No,” King said, he had never held a job – in his whole life.
Long asked King if he had children. King, the defendant, said he had two kids. Long asked for their ages and how to spell their names.
King said the kids are 2 and 6, but he did not know how to spell his own children’s names.
Long asked King if he paid child support.
“$70 a week,” said King, who had been in jail since February and has been in and out of jail and prison since 2007. He had been out of prison just days in 2010 when he was arrested again on drug possession charges, second offense. In 2011 he was sentenced to 201 days in jail, then released.
Long asked if the child support was court ordered, and King said yes.
“But you don’t have a job,” said Long.
A check of jail and court records after the hearing showed King is also being held in the county jail concerning two Family Court bench warrants for failing to appear in court to pay court-ordered child support for both children. King owes years of support totaling $10,078.50, according to the York County Clerk of Court’s Office.
‘We want justice’
In court Friday, Long asked King if he had anything to say or ask, and King told the judge that the police who arrested him for murder, “got the wrong person. They’ll have to go right back.”
Long said Friday’s hearing was not the time for presentation of any evidence. Long told King he qualified for a public defender and had King apply for a lawyer paid for by taxpayers.
The hearing ended. King went out of a courtroom, a familiar place, to a jail cell, a familiar place, for transport back to the county jail, a familiar place.
Rock Hill Police Lt. Brent Allmon declined after the hearing to identify a motive in the killing of Boot Hardin, or what evidence came to light to bring the murder charge three months later. Evidence was not discussed at Friday’s hearing.
“The investigation is continuing; this is not the end of it,” Allmon said.
The family of Boot Hardin, who worked making tires in a factory for more than 20 years, left the court building.
“My father was beaten savagely until he was dead,” is how Di’Amond Hardin, one of Hardin’s sons, described what happened.
“We want justice,” said Hardin’s sister and his wife and one of his sons.
All three left, without tarrying, because all three had to go to work Friday.