The attorney for Ronald Reid, who is accused of murder in a shooting this summer outside a North Charleston motorcycle shop, had planned to call on the Summerville man’s loved ones to testify about his character during a bond hearing Friday morning.
In a downtown courtroom, Circuit Judge Markley Dennis instead launched a discussion about self-defense, a person’s Second Amendment right to carry a gun and South Carolina’s “castle doctrine” law that could halt the prosecution of Reid.
He had read news articles about the case, he said, and realized that it presented legal and factual questions that need to be ironed out soon. Dennis set Reid’s bail at $100,000 and ordered that he leave his home only to attend church, consult with his lawyer or see a doctor.
He had to pay $10,000 to get out of jail Friday afternoon, but under the bond agreement, he’ll get half of that back.
Because of talk about gangs’ ties to the June 29 shootings that left three dead at Cycle Gear, deputies beefed up security for the proceeding. A Charleston County Sheriff’s Office mobile command truck was parked outside, and SWAT team officers with military-style weapons stood in the front lobby.
In an email to county officials, Reid’s lawyer lambasted Sheriff Al Cannon for the show of force, saying there was no evidence that Reid’s 12-man motorcycle-riding club was a gang. Attorney Andy Savage said it amounted to intimidation.
But Savage commended Dennis, who is no “thug-hugger,” he said, for seeing “through the fog of law enforcement hype” and setting bail for Reid.
Cannon told The Post and Courier that the security measures were based on an “assessment of the situation.” He said that he appreciated Savage’s critique.
“But he’s not the one responsible for ensuring safety at the courthouse,” the sheriff said. “We’re going to do what we think is necessary.”
A concealed-weapons permit holder, Reid has said that he fatally shot 41-year-old Maurice Horry only after the Columbia man shot him in the leg. Reid also has said that the extent of his involvement in the fight that led to the gunfire was only to defend himself. The police have acknowledged that no evidence placed him in the skirmish and that Horry possibly was the first to pull a trigger.
Reid has only one criminal conviction — on a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge 23 years ago.
The state’s castle doctrine and its related “stand your ground” provisions allow someone to use deadly force if he’s in a place legally and is faced with a threat against his own life.
Dennis said the case would boil down to whether Reid was one of the instigators of the melee, which the police said was a dispute between rival motorcycle clubs. If he was at Cycle Gear legally, a judge might rule during a future hearing to bar Reid’s prosecution.
Savage already has said that he would seek such a hearing.
“The castle doctrine ... says immunity from prosecution,” Dennis said. “It’s an interesting problem.
“He needs to have his day in court, and he needs to have it soon.”
No one spoke in favor of Reid, as Savage had planned. The attorney mentioned Reid’s heart condition, which requires him to wear a defibrillator, and his wife’s job as a retail manager.
The bail setting came a day after a magistrate, amid some hesitation, allowed the murder charge against Reid to continue toward trial.
Horry died of the bullet that Reid fired into his chest.
Two other men, Carlos Davis, 39, and Theodore Waymyers, 36, also were killed. It’s thought that Horry fired the shots that killed them, but the police said they would wait for sophisticated ballistics testing before confirming that. Relatives said Horry fired in defense of his friend, who was being beaten inside the store by several members of the Wheels of Soul Motorcycle Club. Horry belonged to the Real Kings and its affiliated umbrella group, the Outcast Motorcycle Club, which has clashed with the Wheels of Soul elsewhere in the country.
In fighting for a high bail amount, Assistant Solicitor Culver Kidd told the judge that Reid was a risk of fleeing because of his ties to a motorcycle gang with vast resources. Kidd said the incident was the result of a dispute between the leaders of the two motorcycle clubs.
Horry’s mother, Virginia Horry of Mount Pleasant, echoed Kidd’s fears as she spoke to Dennis.
“(Reid) is danger to the community,” she said. “My son is gone, but he was minding his own business. ... I think it was wrong what happened.”
But as Dennis responded to her statement before he set bail, the mother started weeping. A nearly packed courtroom gallery heard her cries as a victim’s advocate comforted her and her husband.
Whether Reid has ties to a gang or simply a social club would have to be determined later, Dennis said. Whether he was acting within the law’s provisions also must be determined — and “not everybody will be pleased by that determination,” the judge added.
“You can shoot me,” Dennis said, explaining a hypothetical situation. “You can take me out, but you can never shoot the heart of this country. ... We’re a country of laws.”
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.