Monday is the wrong day to speed on Interstate 77 and U.S. 321 in Chester, Fairfield, and Richland counties. Because the roads will be filled with dozens of Chester County officers.
Yet the officers won’t be patrolling – they will be headed to and from court. Dozens of current and former deputies and the sheriff himself are part of one, two or all three cases happening in Chester, Winnsboro and Columbia.
Deputies and Sheriff Alex Underwood investigated and made the arrests in the murder trial of an alleged gang member accused of killing Chester City Councilman Odell Williams in 2014. That trial is in Winnsboro in Fairfield County, south of Chester, because a judge ruled pretrial publicity was too intense for the accused to get a fair trial in Chester.
It was set to start around the same time a civil trial starts in Chester. A former deputy has accused Underwood of sexual harassment – a claim Underwood has repeatedly denied. As many as 30 people could testify – most of them former or current deputies.
In Columbia, a federal trial starts at the same time where a dirt track driver claims excessive force was used by off-duty Chester deputies in a 2009 fracas at Chester’s dirt track. The driver was arrested and claimed he was beaten. The deputies no longer work for the Chester County Sheriff’s Office.