Abortion doctor pleads guilty to reduced charge in pistol incident; fined $100
An abortion doctor’s defense attorney today entered a guilty plea on his behalf to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct in connection with a pistol-waving incident outside a West Ashley clinic.
Gary Boyle, 64, of Tennessee, did not attend the hearing, which took place in a Charleston County courtroom. A judge ordered him to pay a $100 fine.
Boyle had been awaiting trial on a felony charge of pointing a firearm at a person, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The charge he pleaded guilty to today carries a maximum punishment of a $100 fine or 30 days in jail.
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.
Boyle and his wife contend that protesters approached their car and that he raised the gun in self-defense.
The prosecutor acknowledged that the case raised “significant castle doctrine issues.”
South Carolina is one of more than 20 states to adopt strong castle doctrine laws to protect residents from criminal prosecution and civil liability if they use deadly force to repel an intruder.
In 2006, state lawmakers codified the doctrine, greatly expanding its scope to apply in places other than someone’s home. The law now covers store owners defending their businesses, drivers fending off a carjacking and campers confronting unwelcome intruders in the woods.
Frank Karafa, one of the protesters Boyle allegedly threatened with the pistol, told the court ”we were not aggressive in any way.”
Karafa started to tell the judge about abortion, but the judge cut him off. “Let’s stick to you being a victim and less of your political views,” Magistrate James Gosnell said.
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.
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.
Boyle had a Tennessee permit to carry the pistol. That state has a reciprocal carry agreement with South Carolina.