One of the four men charged in connection with the shooting death of Chester City Councilman Odell Williams was free on bond on at least nine previous charges – including attempted murder – at the time of the shooting, court records show.
Quinton McClinton, 25, had been out on bond since September 2013 on seven of those felony arrests when he was arrested twice on drug charges in the months leading up to Williams death – but was released on bond again each time.
McClinton also signed court documents indicating that he has “never” had a job when he asked to be represented by a public defender.
Williams, 69, a retired police officer, was shot and killed Nov. 4 in what investigators have called a drive-by shooting performed by members of a local gang.
Christopher Moore, 18, whom police identified as Williams’ shooter, is charged with murder. McClinton, Derrick Dixon, 18, and DeAngelo Roseboro, 20, are charged with accessory to murder before and after the killing. They are being held at the Chester County jail without bond after hearings before a magistrate judge, who could not legally set bond in murder cases.
Upon conviction, the charges carry sentences of up to life in prison or the death penalty, if prosecutors choose to seek it.
When Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood announced on Friday that McClinton had been arrested and charged with accessory before and after the fact of a murder, he said McClinton “has been involved in other shooting incidents in Chester County.”
Court records show McClinton was arrested on an attempted murder charge in 2012 in connection with another drive-by shooting. Police and court records list him as the victim in at least two shootings – including a 2013 incident after which he was charged with murder.
In that case, McClinton was charged with murder in connection with the death of a Chester teen after a shootout at a birthday party. The murder charge was later dismissed after a county grand jury declined to indict him.
Two years earlier, a Chester man was sentenced to prison for shooting McClinton in the hip during another incident.
In 2007, McClinton was sentenced to five years in prison following convictions on felony cocaine and gun charges, according to State Law Enforcement Division records. In 2005 and 2006, he was convicted on drug, assault and battery, and weapons crimes charges, SLED records show.
McClinton and the other three defendants were all denied bond in the Williams case, but it remains unclear why McClinton was allowed to go free on bond on the pending charges.
McClinton was jailed for a month after a September arrest on possession charges, for 9.1 grams of marijuana. In that case, records show, he posted a $5,016 bond and was freed in early October.
When arrested in York County in June for marijuana possession, McClinton was released on $1,000 bond, records show.
McClinton was granted bond in those cases after Sept. 16, 2013, when he was granted a $50,000 bond on the attempted murder charge in connection with the 2012 drive-by shooting in Chester, records show. That $50,000 bond also covered six other charges that are still pending, according to Chester County Clerk of Court records – including arrests for assault and battery with intent to kill, assault and battery, and drug offenses.
As a condition of that bond – according to an order signed by Circuit Court Judge Brian Gibbons after McClinton’s bond hearing in front of visiting Circuit Court Judge Ernest Kinard – McClinton had to “be on good behavior” and was not supposed to leave his house after 8 p.m.
McClinton was arrested twice on drug charges while free on that $50,000 bond, but was released. There is no record of Chester County prosecutors seeking to have McClinton’s bond revoked after either the June arrest in York County, or the September arrest in Chester County.
Sixth Circuit Solicitor Doug Barfield said his prosecutors generally do not have a role in bond hearings in magistrate courts. He was unsure what information magistrates had at the time bond was set for McClinton from the June and September arrests.
Barfield, who leaves office in January after not seeking re-election, said his office would oppose any request for bond by the defendants in the Williams case, as it always does for violent crime charges involving death. He declined to comment further on the case.
Assistant Solicitor Randy Newman – who was elected to succeed Barfield on the same day Williams was killed – also declined to comment on the case.
Chester County’s next one-week term of Circuit Court starts Dec. 1.
Accessory charges, under South Carolina law, mean police allege McClinton aided in the crime by counseling, hiring or otherwise procuring the killing. The arrest warrant against McClinton alleges all four men “participated in a shooting incident that resulted in the death of Odell Williams.”
Police have collected DNA evidence, fingerprints and witness statements, according to the warrant.
Columbia attorney Mike Duncan said Tuesday he will represent McClinton on the accessory to murder charges. He declined to comment on the case. Duncan also represents McClinton in the cases that were pending before Williams was killed.
Moore claimed to be innocent during a court appearance Friday. His lawyer, Sixth Circuit Chief Public Defender Mike Lifsey, declined to comment Tuesday other than to reaffirm that his client “maintains his innocence.” He declined to say if he would seek bond for Moore.
It remains unclear if Roseboro and Dixon will apply for public defenders or hire private lawyers.