The 14th Circuit Solicitor's Office believes manslaughter suspect Preston Oates is violating his bond, but he'll remain free at least until a judge holds a hearing on his case.
That hearing, at which a judge is expected to consider revoking Oates' $200,000 bond, hasn't been scheduled yet. Solicitor iDuffie Stone asked for the hearing after an investigation raised questions about whether Oates has violated the terms of his bond.
Circuit Court Judge John Hayes on Monday delayed a hearing on Stone's motion to revoke Oates' bond because one of his defense attorneys, Jared Newman, was busy handling another trial, which kept him from preparing for Oates' case.
The hearing must be held before a circuit court judge. Circuit court judges come to Beaufort County for one week each month to preside over cases. The next session is the week of Nov. 26.
"As soon as I can get it in front of a circuit court judge, we'll have the hearing," Stone said.
When asked if any measures would be put in place to ensure that Oates is complying with his bond, Stone said only, "The next thing to do is to get it scheduled in front of another judge."Meanwhile, Oates' attorney Don Colongeli indicated that he and Newman have somethig different in mind for their client. Colongeli said they will seek to "modify" the terms of Oates' bond, which now require him to remain under house arrest at his father's home unless he has to leave for medical treatment, court appearances or meetings with lawyers.
Colongeli declined to elaborate on how he wants Oates' bond modified.
When Oates was released from jail in August 2011 after being charged with fatally shooting 34-year-old Carlos Olivera on Christmas Eve 2010, he was ordered to stay in his family's home in another county, the location of which has not been publicly disclosed. He also is required to call in once a week to his bail bonding company, Larry's Bail Bonding.
Owner Larry Bodison said Oates checked in Wednesday, as usual. However, he said he has no way of knowing whether Oates is where he claims to be because Oates is not required to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet. Allegations that Oates violated his bond surfaced after an investigation into a fake profile set up on a dating website in the name of Sheriff P.J. Tanner. Online comments suggesting the author was Tanner's wife, Capt. Angela McCall-Tanner of the Bluffton Police Department, also were investigated.
Both accounts were traced to a computer in the home where Oates is supposed to have been confined under house arrest, the Sheriff's Office has said. Some posts were made from wireless sites, leading investigators to examine Oates' cellphone records to see if calls made matched the locations and times of the postings.
Investigators shared what they found with the Solicitor's Office, which also was involved in the investigation, Tanner has said.
Colongeli said he sympathizes with Tanner and McCall-Tanner for the fake postings, however, he said the Sheriff's Office's subsequent investigation was "a fishing expedition" to check up on Oates.
Stone has said the fake postings would not violate criminal statutes but could be a matter for a civil court. A S.C. Supreme Court decision in 1991 ruled that criminal penalties for libel and slander are unconstitutional.
However, the criminal libel and slander statute remains on the books, according to the S.C. Code of Laws.
Tanner said the investigation was aimed at determining whether that statute had been violated. He has previously said detectives did not know their investigation would lead to Oates.