Suspect enters guilty plea

Timothy Hoard

A Charleston County jury deliberated for several hours Wednesday but could not agree whether Timothy Hoard committed murder in the July 2007 shooting death of DeShaun Brown of North Charleston.

Instead, Hoard pleaded guilty to a charge of accessory after the fact and received a 15-year sentence from Circuit Judge J.C. Nicholson Jr.

Hoard's attorney, Martha Kent Runey, said the jurors sent out a note saying they were equally divided.

During her closing arguments, Runey acknowledged that Hoard, 24, was at the scene on July 13, 2007, when Tremaine Nelson, 27, and another man shot and killed Brown and wounded a second man. Runey said there was no reliable evidence that Hoard was the other shooter.

"We feel like the result was what should have happened in the first place, so we were very happy with that," she said of Hoard's plea.

Assistant 9th Circuit Solicitor Henry Leventis said he knew there was some weaknesses to his case -- two independent witnesses could not identify Hoard as a shooter -- but Leventis said he still was disappointed that the jury deadlocked.

"The plea represented a good compromise," he said, adding that he didn't think a different jury would reach a different result.

Nelson was found guilty of murder in the case last year. He could be sentenced by Circuit Judge Kristi Harrington next week.

Nelson will receive a sentence of at least 30 years, but Leventis said he will ask Harrington to consider that Nelson testified this week on behalf of Hoard, his close friend.

Police said the shooting began when Nelson, Hoard and Jaquan Bryant, 28, went to the North Charleston apartment complex between Calvert and Iris streets to confront a person who Nelson said had robbed him earlier that day.

The suspects drove up in an SUV, got out and quickly fired military-style rifles. Neither Brown nor the other man shot had robbed Nelson.

Nelson and Bryant later left Charleston for Atlanta, where the U.S. Marshals Service's Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force arrested them in July 2007. Bryant still faces a murder charge in connection with the case.

Reach Robert Behre at rbehre@postandcourier.com or 937-5771.