Man accused in Bluffton woman's death waives bond hearing

loberle@beaufortgazette.comJuly 7, 2014 

A man charged with the murder of a Bluffton woman waived his right to a bond hearing Monday at the Beaufort County Courthouse.

Jerry Lee Manigault, 50, of Hollywood is accused of killing Polly Ann Mitchell, 70, at her home at 168 Buck Island Road after allegedly sexually assaulting her on May 12. He also was charged with burglary and grand larceny.

Manigault, a convicted sex offender, also has been charged in Charleston County with the murder of 77-year-old Hollywood resident Julia Ann Mudgett, whose body was found May 16 in woods about a half-mile from her home.

Manigault is being held in Charleston County and was denied bond in May. He was brought to Beaufort County for Monday's proceedings.

An attorney has been appointed to defend Manigault in Charleston County. On Monday, Beaufort County chief public defender Gene Hood was assigned to represent Manigault here.

Hood told Judge Kristi Harrington that Manigault chose to waive his bond hearing so he could meet with his attorney in Charleston County.

Waiving the hearing means he will not be released from the Charleston County jail. However, Manigault can file a motion later for a bond hearing.

Manigault is being tried separately in each county, and 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone in Beaufort County said he has met with 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson of Charleston to coordinate their prosecution. Neither trial date has been set.

Mudgett was reported missing from her Hollywood home on May 6, and her 2002 Hyundai Elantra was found underwater near a boat landing on Tuten Landing Road in Ridgeland on May 12.

Several witnesses told police they saw Manigault near Mitchell's Bluffton home on the day she died, and Mudgett's vehicle was spotted on Buck Island Road just before Mitchell's death.

Manigault was arrested in Beaufort County by the Charleston County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force on May 16, the day Mudgett's body was found.

The Bluffton Police Department charged Manigault in Mitchell's death June 16 after evidence linked him to that crime, police said.

Mitchell's relatives, including her son, Bluffton resident Ricky Bryant, attended the bond hearing, but declined to speak to reporters.

Follow reporter Laura Oberle at twitter.com/IPBG_Laura.

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