A 230-pound former football player has surrendered to police after a downtown Charleston assault fractured a Bluffton resident's skull earlier this week.
James Hutton, 27, of Greenville was booked into the Cannon Detention Center just before 10 p.m. Friday night. Magistrate Priscilla Baldwin set his bail at $20,000 Saturday morning.
Hutton is accused of punching 26-year-old Billy Schilling in the face on King Street, sending him to the sidewalk and causing a severe head injury. Hutton surrendered after police released surveillance photos that showed him near the scene of the assault, according to his attorneys and a police spokesman.
Hutton faces a charge of second-degree assault and battery by mob, a felony punishable with between three and 25 years in prison.
Witnesses of the assault said the suspect looked like a "linebacker," police reports stated.
Hutton spent two seasons, in 2006 and 2007, as a walk-on fullback for the University of South Carolina football program's scout team, according to the Gamecocks' official website. He graduated in 2005 from Williamsburg Academy in Kingstree, where he was a linebacker during his senior season, and he pursued a degree in mechanical engineering in college, the site stated.
His page on the social media site LinkedIn says he now works as a wine distributor and a project engineer in Greenville. His attorneys said he is also taking online classes from USC to get his master's degree in business administration.
Hutton's arrest came days after Schilling's family members offered to increase the reward for information leading to his assailant's capture and conviction.
The attack last weekend was a block away from the site of a similar episode in which Clinton Thomas Seymour, 27, was punched once in April. His head also hit the pavement, and he later died.
Schilling and his wife, 25-year-old Ashley, were walking near 455 King St. around 12:45 a.m. Sunday when a man made a crude remark about his wife while walking past them, police said.
"Did you really say that?" Schilling responded, according to supplemental incident reports. The arrest affidavit says Schilling said "something to the effect of, 'Don't talk to my wife like that.'" That's when the police said Hutton, who was with three others, turned around, walked up to Schilling, "pounded his right fist into his open palm" and punched him once in the face.
Schilling fell, his head hit his head on the sidewalk, and he lost consciousness for about 10 minutes, the reports stated.
He and his wife, along with some friends, had been on a rare date night after the birth of the couple's son seven months earlier. Schilling was working as a personal trainer, a boat captain and a liquor distributor to support his young family. He has been unable to work since his injury, according to his family.
Investigators said they found surveillance footage from nearby businesses that showed people who might know something about the attack or might have been involved. They released the images to the public on Wednesday.
By then, Schilling had been released from Medical University Hospital, where doctors said that he had suffered a severe fracture to the back of his head but that no permanent damage was likely, according to the reports.
His father-in-law, Scott Kirkpatrick of Chapin, said Friday that Schilling was resting at home but suffering headaches and nausea.
"But I think he's going to recover," Kirkpatrick said, "eventually."
Hutton was represented by two attorneys at his bond hearing Saturday. None of Schilling's family members was present. A condition of Hutton's bond is that he have no contact with the victim or his family.
Dave Munday contributed to this story. Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.
Surveillance images show people possibly involved in the attack Sunday on Billy Schilling.×
Billy Schilling, 26, of Bluffton is seen in a hospital bed after he suffered a skull fracture Sunday morning from a punch by a stranger in downtown Charleston.×
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