Ethan Mack will likely be back in court this fall seeking to have his manslaughter conviction tossed out for the June 2009 killing of Charleston woman Kate Waring.
On Monday, Mack opted to withdraw his request to reargue his convictions on two other counts, for forgery and obstruction, from his first trial in Waring’s murder. His lawyer said the 25-year manslaughter term is the central matter.
In court Monday, Mack was uncooperative with Circuit Judge Deadra Jefferson. Wearing brown prison scrubs, he refused to raise his chained and shackled hand to be sworn-in. He then mostly gave short, one-word answers to the judge of “yes” or “no” in response to her questions.
Afterward, attorney Charles Brooks III said the two years that his client has spent in prison is clearly wearing on him. He described Mack “as a young man upset with the whole situation right now.”
Mack is arguing that his lawyer did a poor job of representing him. Claims of “ineffective counsel” is a fairly common tactic for inmates looking to wriggle out of lengthy prison terms. Mack’s attorney, David Aylor, said he stands behind his work.
Mack, 33, is serving a 25-year term at the maximum-security Perry Correctional Institution in Pelzer.
In April 2011, Mack entered an Alford plea to voluntary manslaughter in Waring’s death, meaning he did not admit guilt but conceded there was enough evidence to convict him. The plea came as prosecutors prepared to take him to trial for a second time on a murder charge.
Authorities maintain Mack tortured Waring, 28, with a stun gun, bashed her head with a wine bottle and dumped her in a water-filled bathtub to die at his home.
Mack also has accused “malicious prosecution” on the part of the 9th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.
In total, Mack’s 11-page petition states, among other things, that his lawyer failed to file an appeal on his behalf, challenge his co-defendant’s statements, share a defense strategy and inform him of the consequences of his guilty plea.
Some of the claims, such as Aylor’s supposed failure to challenge co-defendant Heather Kamp’s statements, seem odd. During Mack’s trial, Aylor cross-examined Kamp for the better part of two days.
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.
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