Men charged in 2012 murder of 8-year-old Hilton Head boy heading to trial

mmcnab@beaufortgazette.comApril 19, 2014 

Three men charged with the murder of an 8-year-old Hilton Head Island boy who was hit in their crossfire are scheduled to go on trial Tuesday in Beaufort County Circuit Court.

The defendants -- Aaron Scott Young Sr., 37; his son, Aaron Scott Young Jr., 20; and Tyrone Robinson, 38 -- are accused in the death of Khalil Singleton, who was playing with a friend outside his grandmother's mobile home on Allen Road when shooting broke out Sept. 1, 2012.

The Youngs exchanged gunfire with Robinson during a drug-related feud along Allen Road on Hilton Head, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office. Robinson's shot at Aaron Young Jr. was determined to be the bullet that struck Singleton, according to the Solicitor's Office.

Singleton was playing outside a home when he was shot in the torso. Britney Brinson, Singleton's second cousin and a nurse at Beaufort Memorial Hospital, rushed outside to help him. She was still trying to revive the boy when paramedics arrived.

Brinson later said she saw Robinson walking down Allen Road just after the shooting. He saw the mortally wounded boy and kept walking, she said.

Katrina Singleton, Khalil's mother, said she and her family would attend next week's trial and hoped for three convictions.

"We just want justice for Khalil," she said.

The death of the child, a third-grader at Hilton Head Island Elementary School, shook the community. Singleton was mourned at a vigil five days after his death that also included a call to stop violence in the area. There, Sheriff P.J. Tanner's announcement that two of the men had been charged with murder sent a surge of cheers through the crowd of over 100 who had marched down Beach City Road.

Friends and family noted Singleton's love of baseball and a hunger for learning at an emotional funeral a week after his death. An avid reader, Singleton was laid to rest with the last two books he checked out of the elementary school's library, his father, Kareem said.

All three men were arrested the day after the shooting, the Youngs for shooting into Robinson's car and Robinson for brandishing a handgun during a previous argument with Aaron Young Jr. Three days later, Robinson and Aaron Young Jr. were charged with murder. Murder charges against Aaron Young Sr. were announced after a hearing in February 2013, after all three men had been indicted for murder by a Beaufort County grand jury in October 2012.

Investigators say Aaron Young Jr. and Robinson fought on Wildhorse Road on the day of Singleton's death. Robinson pulled a handgun on Young that went off during the fight. The Youngs would later shoot at Robinson's unoccupied car on Allen Road, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Each of the three have criminal records; Robinson and Young Sr. have felony convictions.

They have been held in the Beaufort County Detention Center since their arrests, denied bond on the murder charges. At Robinson's bond hearing, Solicitor Duffie Stone said Robinson and Aaron Young Jr. told investigators they saw children playing when they began firing at one another.

Stone will lead the prosecution team in the trial, assisted by deputy solicitor Sean Thornton and assistant solicitor Hunter Swanson, spokesman Daniel Brownstein said.

Attempts Friday to reach Stone for comment were unsuccessful.

Jury selection in the trial will begin on Monday. Circuit Court Judge Thomas Cooper of Manning will preside.

Aaron Young Sr. will be represented by Robert Ferguson of Lady's Island during the trial. Aaron Young, Jr. will be represented by Roberts Vaux of Bluffton, who was the attorney for both father and son during the early pre-trial stages. Robinson will continue to represent himself, with Arie Bax of the 14th Circuit public defender's office assisting him, Brownstein said.

Attempts Friday to reach Ferguson and Vaux for comment were unsuccessful.

Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.

Related content:

Hilton Head continues work to curb violence 1 year after 8-year-old's murder, Sept. 27, 2013

Four in custody following shooting death of Hilton Head 8-year-old, Sept. 2, 2012

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