S.C. attorney general's office to prosecute York gang case

The state attorney general's office will direct the prosecution of a case involving what police say was the gang-related shooting death of York man last month, and the case might be presented before a state grand jury, officials said Tuesday.

"Solicitor (Kevin) Brackett has asked, and this office will work on the case with the solicitor," said Mark Plowden, spokesman for the attorney general's office.

The attorney general's office also is trying to determine if the case can be brought before a state grand jury. To do that, evidence would have to show the Sept. 11 shooting death of Dawud Chester is gang-related, Plowden said.

Authorities have maintained the shooting was gang-related.

Unlike a county jury, a grand jury can subpoena witnesses and evidence, Plowden said. This helps in gang-related cases, where witnesses may be less likely to talk because they're afraid of retaliation. With the additional witness testimony, the prosecution can build a stronger case, he said.

Gang activity was added to the list of crimes under grand jury jurisdiction earlier this year and is a good tool to help prosecute gang members, said York Police Chief Bill Mobley.

"Any time you can get criminal activity before a grand jury, I think it's a good thing," Mobley said. "If that's what they are wanting to do, we are more than willing to work with them."

The decision for the attorney general's office to become involved with the prosecution stems from a dispute between Brackett and the York Police Department about how the murder investigation was handled.

Last week, Brackett said police "botched the investigation" in part because it had warrants with conflicting accounts listing two possible shooters.

Mobley requested the attorney general's involvement, saying Brackett was acting more like a defense attorney.

Attempts to reach Brackett on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

The State Law Enforcement Division was brought in to help with the investigation at the request of the York Police Department.