Bond conditions for Bluffton tow-truck driver charged with manslaughter to be revisited

mmcnab@beaufortgazette.comJuly 29, 2013 

Preston Oates

STAFF PHOTO

Bond conditions for a former tow-truck driver charged in a Christmas Eve 2010 shooting in Bluffton could be changed at a hearing Wednesday, his attorney says.

Preston Oates' lawyer, Jared Newman, would not specify Monday which bond conditions he has asked the court to modify, citing the pending hearing.

Oates is accused of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of 34-year-old Carlos Olivera.

Last November, a judge ruled Oates should be put under electronic surveillance but allowed him to get a job while free on bond. The judge also said that after 120 days, Oates could ask the court to reconsider whether he has to continue to wear the ankle device that tracks his movements.

Oates was released from the Beaufort County Detention Center on Aug. 31, 2011, about eight months after his arrest. Until the November ruling, he had been confined to his father's house, except for medical treatment or trial-related meetings, and was ordered to check in with a bail bondsman every week.

On the night Olivera was killed, he argued with Oates after the tow-truck driver placed a wheel boot on his minivan. Oates shot Oliver. His lawyers contend their client acted in self defense; the prosecution argues Olivera posed no threat to Oates.

The case has made its way slowly through the courts.

In March 2012, Circuit Court Judge Markley Dennis Jr. ruled that Oates' charge would not be dismissed under the state's Castle Doctrine, which protects from prosecution those who are defending themselves or others from intruders in their homes, workplaces or vehicles.

Newman filed the final briefs for Oates' appeal of that decision that month, and the S.C. Attorney General's Office filed its final briefs in June 2013.

There is no timetable for a judgment. The appeals court can order both sides to present oral arguments before making a decision, Newman said.

Oates cannot be tried for manslaughter until his appeal is settled, and then only if the court rules that the Castle Doctrine does not apply to his case, 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone said Monday.

If the Appeals Court rules against Oates, his attorneys can immediately appeal to the S.C. Supreme Court, Stone said.

Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.

Related content:

Oates placed on electronic monitoring, allowed to work, Nov. 26, 2012

Fatal tow truck shooting case still pending, Sept. 13, 2012 Judge upholds decision to allow Oates case to proceed to trial, Mar. 13, 2012

Suspect in Bluffton Christmas Eve fatal shooting freed on bond, Aug. 31, 2011

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