YORK -- State prosecutors arrived in York Tuesday to begin jury selection in a trial that will make legal history in South Carolina.
The state will pursue murder charges against Antonio Mobley in a 2007 shooting that left another man dead and later prompted a feud between the local police chief and solicitor.
It's the first case to be investigated and prosecuted using the state grand jury's new authority over gang-related crimes.
Authorities say Mobley shot and killed Dawud Chester, a member of a rival gang in York. At the time of the shooting, police said problems with gangs in the town of 7,000 had been percolating for months.
Chester was found face down in a front yard with a gunshot wound to his back.
Mobley didn't commit the crime, says defense lawyer Melvin Roberts, who contends the evidence against his client is weak.
The case is being handled by the Attorney General's office under a law passed in 2007 that gives the state grand jury authority to investigate gang crimes.
If convicted of murder, Mobley could face 30 years to life in prison.
Mobley initially was charged with murder by the York Police Department. But less than four months later, a judge set him free on a personal recognizance bond after 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett questioned what appeared to be conflicting evidence in the case.
Brackett said publicly that York city police officers botched the investigation. He cited a search warrant found in the case file that said witnesses saw another man shoot Chester.
"There's only one gun that was used to kill Dawud Chester; one person had their finger on the trigger, not two," Brackett said at the time. "This isn't like an Agatha Christie novel."
York Police Chief Bill Mobley, who is not related to Antonio Mobley, defended his officers, saying there was confusion in the aftermath of the shooting between rival gangs known as the Cali Boys and Valley Boys. Officers had received information early on that pointed to another shooter, Mobley said.
After events settled down, more evidence pointed toward Antonio Mobley, Chief Mobley said.
Brackett's office soon dropped the charges, clearing the way for the state grand jury to issue an indictment. Brackett and Chief Mobley have since resolved their differences.