York man begins appeals process, faces 10 years in prison after gun plea

03/21/2014 11:16 PM

03/22/2014 8:00 AM

Two men exonerated in the shooting death of a Clover man two years ago have been convicted on federal gun charges after they pleaded guilty to carrying firearms to the fight that resulted in their friend’s slaying. But, according to federal court documents, one of them has already taken steps to appeal his decade-long prison sentence.

It’s unclear why, but both Kevin Mitchell Eades, 23, and Joseph Matthew Polk, 22, were temporarily taken to the York County Detention Center on Thursday with charges that have either been dismissed or disposed in a federal court appearing beside their booking information.

In October, both Eades and Polk pleaded guilty to possession of firearm charges. They were not sentenced until last month. A judge sentenced Eades to 10 years in prison, and Polk to two years.

An assistant prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not know why Eades and Polk had been returned to York County since their cases were finished. She suggested it’s possible federal officials thought Eades and Polk still had charges pending against them. But the York County deputy solicitor who dismissed charges in connection with the death of 21-year-old Travis Koin at a mobile home in Clover said none of those charges had been renewed.

Early on Nov. 6, 2012, deputies were alerted to a possible homicide after Koin had been taken to a Kings Mountain, N.C., hospital, where he died of several gunshot wounds. Eades and Polk had both fled to Spartanburg County.

Deputies issued warrants on Eades and Polk, eventually finding them in Woodruff. Eades was charged with murder and possession of a firearm, while Polk was charged with failing to report the crime.

While behind bars, Eades penned letters to his mother, Donna Perry, and sister, Brandi Eades, imploring them to help prove that he acted in self-defense.

Family members told The Herald that Eades, Polk and Koin all were friends. They gathered at another friend’s home in York when Koin and Polk presumably began arguing about an ex-girlfriend. The argument escalated into a brawl. During the dispute, Koin allegedly pistol-whipped Polk and sent him text messages threatening to kill him, prosecutors said.

Polk and Eades left York to get away from the fight, fleeing to a mobile home in Clover where Polk was staying, family members said. Koin followed, vowing to shoot into the trailer unless the two men walked outside.

Eades, prosecutors said, tried to intervene with a solution that involved the men settling their differences with fists instead of firearms. It didn’t work out that way. The two men began fighting but Koin picked up a pistol and pointed it at Polk’s head. That’s when Eades fired the rifle and killed Koin, shot four times, prosecutors said.

After reviewing the evidence, Deputy 16th Circuit Solicitor Willy Thompson dismissed the murder charges against Eades, determining that he acted in self-defense under the state’s protection of persons and property act. The law, which allows people to use deadly force to protect themselves against an intruder or attacker in their homes or cars, granted Eades and Polk immunity from any prosecution in connection with the murder.

But Thompson also said it was possible the men would be prosecuted by federal authorities on the gun charges because neither man, both convicted felons, should have had guns.

“A number of these men had weapons they weren’t allowed to have,” Thompson said in 2012. “If they had followed the law and none of them had the weapons, this wouldn’t have happened.”

Last summer, a federal grand jury indicted both Eades and Polk on the gun charges, federal court documents show. By October, both had pleaded guilty but remained in federal custody until they could be sentenced.

Before sentencing, Eades wrote a letter to the judge, begging for mercy and saying he felt federal prosecutors were portraying him as a monster. He told the judge that Koin had been using drugs and “flipped on our other friend ... and hit him in the head with a gun.” Eades says he and Polk fled to Spartanburg to avoid further issues, but were “betrayed” by the woman who took them there. Eades admits that he tried to get Polk and Koin to fight without guns, but Koin picked up the gun and pointed it at Polk. He became afraid, he writes, and shot Koin.

“If I didn’t do what I did, there would have been more than one dead person that night ... he wouldn’t have left a single witness,” the letter reads.

He told the judge that he has three children, and nieces and nephews that look to him as a father figure.

“He still has nightmares over what happened,” Donna Perry said about her son. “He’s just ready to get this over with; get on with his life.”

Eades on Feb. 26 filed a notice to appeal his sentence, court documents show, but his mother said he has not made a decision on whether he will go through with the appeal.

Perry is unsure why her son was returned to York County only to be transported to Georgia. From there, he will be moved to a prison in either Florida or Texas, she said.

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