It took a judge who has been hearing hearing criminal cases for 22 years – including dozens of murders – exactly seven seconds to deny bond Friday to a 19-year-old alleged gang member accused of a January murder and three other shootings in the days and weeks before the killing.
“There is probably more danger to the community here than in any case I have ever heard,” said Circuit Court Judge Lee Alford, 71, who has been a judge since before defendant Abdul Emmanuel was born.
That would have been thousands of cases.
Before Alford stood what he characterized as the most dangerous of all – a teen charged with shooting into houses, cars and, finally, a person. Police say Emmanuel even boasted on social media about his flight from pursuing cops.
“Not only are there accusations of gang activity, with shooting into houses and at each other,” Alford said in deeming Emmanuel a flight risk, “there are innocent people who could be at risk.”
Emmanuel is charged with murder, three counts of attempted murder, conspiracy and weapons possession for using a gun every single time.
For the first time in court Friday, prosecutors claimed that the Jan. 10 killing of Michael Giddens, 25, was the result of a drug deal that Emmanuel and two others turned into an armed robbery attempt.
Emmanuel has been in trouble – from assaulting school officials to burglary – since he was a child, prosecutors say, and has adult convictions for which Emmanuel was on probation when he was arrested this year.
Emmanuel didn’t say a word in court Friday. If anybody was there for him, they didn’t speak up. His sister and mother were both arrested in late January. Police and prosecutors say they aided Emmanuel’s flight from arrest.
Prosecutors say Emmanuel wrote this on Facebook page while he was on the run: “They can keep looking for me, but I’m gonna keep on running.” That same day, prosecutors say, Emmanuel added: “From cell block to your block” – a reference to a rap song that, for some reason, celebrates jail.
That’s where this alleged member of Rock Hill’s 715 FAM, which police have identified as a gang, will remain while awaiting trial. Some, including family members of 715 FAM and others, have said that police are overstating the gang problem in Rock Hill and targeting young black men. Several 715 FAM members have said they are just musicians.
It is unclear if any of those people who have concerns about police targeting gangs were in court to hear prosecutors detail the list of allegations against Emmanuel that were almost all done in public places – on city streets, where children play.
Prosecutors argued against bond for Emmanuel with allegations that run for months – all involved guns and bullets, and finally, death.
“Mr. Emmanuel is part of a gang called 715 FAM,” assistant solicitor Jessica Holland told Judge Alford. “It has been quite a problem for Rock Hill.”
Rock Hill police arrested more than a dozen members of gangs earlier this year on allegations of violent crimes. Most of the people deny gang affiliation.
Assistant solicitor Chris Epting told the judge that a member of a rival gang called police for help and protection after Emmanuel allegedly shot at him and chased him down a street. Prosecutors have concerns for the safety of the victims, witnesses and the public if Emmanuel were released.
Here’s what prosecutors allege Emmanuel did in the course of two months:
Emmanuel’s lawyer, Tyler Burns, told Judge Alford that Emmanuel eventually turned himself in to police, so he is entitled to bond. Burns also claimed Emmanuel has so many charges against him, and the alleged evidence is so vast, that a forklift would be needed to carry it all.
“There is such voluminous evidence that is almost unreal,” Burns said Friday.
With Emmanuel locked up and charged in connection with so many cases, Burns said, he can’t properly prepare to defend Emmanuel.
But Alford was not letting Emmanuel anywhere near the exit doors Friday, saying the jail can make sure Emmanuel has a place to prepare for trial.
Emmanuel faces up to life in prison if convicted.