Former boyfriend of homicide victim arrested after cruise for probation violation, 2011 warrant

James Maurice Carroll

The last known boyfriend of a woman who was fatally shot in the head in her Dorchester County home last month was violating his probation on a seven-day cruise to Grand Turk Island and the Bahamas when she was killed.

James Maurice Carroll, 25, of Matipan Drive in North Charleston was arrested March 28, when the Carnival cruise he was on docked at the Charleston port.

Carroll was served with a 2011 warrant from the State Law Enforcement Division for unlawful use of a license or fraudulent application for a license. He also was charged with a probation violation after allegedly breaking six different requirements: failing to report March 23, failing to notify a probation officer of a change of address, failing to work diligently at a lawful occupation, failing to refrain from leaving the state without permission, failing to pay court fines, and failing to follow the advice and instructions given by his probation officer.

Sheriff’s Capt. Tony Phinney said detectives had already briefly talked with Carroll about the slaying of Traashia Clair Gillespie but were going to speak with him again.

No suspects have been named or any charges filed in Gillespie’s death.

Gillespie, 33, who lived at 1113 Flyway Road near Summerville, died at 2:44 a.m. after she was shot with her grandmother and two children nearby.

Phinney would not comment on Carroll and Gillespie’s relationship at the time of her death, but the address SLED had on file for him was at her residence, and, according to her obituary, one of her children shares his last name.

Carroll posted $50,000 bail Thursday from the Dorchester County jail, where he was transferred Wednesday after being held a few days in Charleston County jail. His address on the bond paperwork was listed in North Charleston.

He and Gillespie were both arrested last December and charged with trafficking 22 pounds of marijuana, according to court records.

An incident report stemming from that charge states that Carroll was Gillespie’s live-in boyfriend who had recently been released from prison.

Gillespie told officers at the time that he didn’t work but that he went to college. She worked as a medical assistant, the report states.

Officers found “several ‘bricks’ of marijuana” in a suitcase in the home’s master bedroom after smelling the drug while responding to an unrelated domestic dispute at the residence. That incident involved an argument between Carroll and his ex-girlfriend, according to reports.

Once officers found the drugs, Gillespie indicated she knew about the suitcase but refused to provide a written statement.

In addition to the marijuana found in the suitcase, a report states that “green plant material” was found in a nightstand drawer, on the floor of a second bedroom and in a U.S. Postal Service box in a downstairs closet. A digital scale with cocaine residue and a currency counter also was found.

Officers found several empty vacuum-seal bags on the floor and shelves of a closet with the personal belongings of Carroll.

Carroll’s drug trafficking charge from December is still pending.

He has an extensive criminal history, according to a check with SLED. His convictions include charges of strong-arm robbery, parole violations, and trafficking and possession of drugs.

He was on probation for a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and unlawful carrying of a firearm.

The 2011 SLED warrant Carroll was served with stems from two separate occasions when he is alleged to have gone to a Department of Motor Vehicles office in Charleston to apply for and receive South Carolina credentials in the name of Justin Eddie Hutchinson.

Gillespie also had a criminal history involving mostly financial crimes, such as forgery.

Her death was the fourth of five homicides reported this year in Dorchester County, which is the most in the greater Charleston area so far.

Reach Melissa Boughton at 937-5594 or at Twitter.com/mboughton.