Prosecutors expected to reduce charge against gun-toting abortion doctor
Prosecutors are expected to pursue a reduced charge against an abortion doctor accused of waving a handgun at protesters outside a West Ashley clinic in 2010.
Gary Boyle, a 64-year-old doctor from Tennessee, is scheduled to appear Friday in a Charleston County courtroom where plea hearings are generally held on felony cases that are being reduced to misdemeanors.
Boyle has been awaiting trial on a felony charge of pointing a firearm at a person.
But a notice from the 9th Circuit Solicitor’s Office indicates that Boyle will now be appearing Friday on a charge of public disorderly conduct.
Solicitor Scarlett Wilson would not discuss the pending appearance when reached today. Boyle’s attorney, David McCann, also declined to comment.
Frank Karafa, one of the protestors who Boyle allegedly threatened with the pistol, received notice of the hearing and has heard speculation that the charge will be reduced. But he said he has not heard back from prosecutors on whether that is indeed what will happen.
Boyle, of Blountville, Tenn., was arrested Oct. 2, 2010, by Charleston police after protesters said he brandished what turned out to be a loaded handgun toward them from inside his moving sport utility vehicle.
According to police, Boyle was turning off S.C. Highway 61 and into the parking lot of the Charleston Women’s Medical Center when the incident occurred. His approach was recorded on video by Karafa, a West Ashley activist who regularly tapes his anti-abortion protests.
“It was definitely scary,” Karafa said today. “Obviously afterward, you start thinking about what could have happened.”
After Boyle was detained, he and his wife told police they had seen other doctors in their profession attacked and injured by anti-abortion groups, and that they feared the protesters that day.
Attorney McCann has maintained that Boyle acted in self-defense. He also has raised the issue that the protesters may have been holding an unidentified object that alarmed the couple as they drove past. McCann has argued that Boyle pointed a handgun toward the roof of his vehicle in a defensive response as he drove past protesters.
Boyle had a Tennessee permit to carry the pistol. That state has a reciprocal carry agreement with South Carolina.
The state law he is accused of violating contends that it is “unlawful for a person to present or point at another person a loaded or unloaded firearm.”
That charge carries up to five years in prison. Public disorderly conduct, in contrast, carries a fine of up to $100 or up to 30 days in jail.
Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or Twitter.com/glennsmith5.