After Ronald Reid killed a man who had shot him last year in North Charleston, witnesses said they never saw him take part in the skirmish that led to the gunfire.
How prosecutors tried to counter Ronald Reid's self-defense account by linking him to a group of misfit motorcyclists. In Local
That's why Reid argued that he had the right to shoot the man in self-defense.
In a separate case three years before that, Kelvin Shuler lost a mutual fight with a guest in his own home in downtown Charleston.
But the guest didn't leave after Shuler ordered him to, and like Reid, Shuler also said he shot the man because he feared further injury.
Both Reid, 44, of Summerville and Shuler, 50, recently asked a judge to dismiss their murder charges under the S.C. Protection of Persons and Property Act. The attorney they both hired, Andy Savage of Charleston, argued their accounts in separate hearings.
The defendants' varying levels of participation in the skirmishes resulted in different outcomes.
Reid was awarded immunity from prosecution Friday after 9th Circuit Judge Roger Young ruled that no direct evidence contradicted his account. Young dismissed the murder charge against Reid in the June 29 shooting of Maurice Horry, 41, outside Cycle Gear in North Charleston.
Judge Thomas Hughston denied Shuler's request Feb. 19, though Hughston offered little explanation for his decision in the one-page written order. Shuler could soon face a trial in the April 2010 death of Sheldon Singletary, 42.
Savage has asked Hughston to reconsider his ruling because the judge declined to interpret the testimony he heard. Such a determination is required under procedures governing the immunity hearing, the attorney contended.
"I will leave it to a later fact-finder to speak with authority as to the facts of what actually happened," Hughston wrote.
The cases are two of at least 13 in recent years with implications on the 2006 self-defense law.
Reid's was based on the "stand-your-ground" provision, which states that he can meet force with force if he's in a place he's allowed to be and if he's not doing anything illegal.
Testimony during Reid's hearing this week indicated that he followed members of a motorcycle club he belonged to, the Wheels of Soul Brotherhood, over to Cycle Gear. He said he didn't know the motorcyclists were going after Horry and his friend, both motorcyclists from another club, The Real Kings, who rode by a Wheels of Soul cookout before Reid arrived.
Reid walked inside the store and saw the fight, but he said he didn't participate. No witnesses contradicted his testimony.
Horry wounded Reid and fatally shot Theodore Waymyers Jr., 36, of Summerville and Carlos Davis, 39, of Columbia when he fired into the crowd attacking his friend.
But Deputy Chief Solicitor Bruce DuRant and Assistant Solicitors Culver Kidd and David Osborne tied Reid to the group that started the fight. Their bid to link him to the melee through circumstantial evidence, though, didn't prove that Reid was doing anything illegal, the judge found.
In his case, Shuler faced testimony that blamed him for the fight.
He was hosting a party at his Odessa Street house when a woman said he slapped Singletary. But Singletary got the better of him in the fight.
Shuler first fetched a knife, then a gun as he told Singletary to leave. But Singletary couldn't find his keys, some witnesses said.
Some witnesses said Singletary was standing on the backyard porch when Shuler shot him. Others said he was jumping toward Shuler.
The question for the judge was whether Shuler could revoke Singletary's permission to be on the property and use deadly force under the castle doctrine when Singletary didn't leave.
Savage said he had hoped that Hughston would answer it.
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.