All three men accused of participating in a Hilton Head Island shootout that killed an 8-year-old bystander -- not just the one believed to have fired the fatal bullet -- will be charged with murder, the 14th Judicial Circuit Solicitor's Office said after a court hearing Monday.
The prosecution of Tyrone Robinson, Aaron Scott Young Jr. and Aaron Scott Young Sr. marks a new approach that Solicitor Duffie Stone said he will apply to future crimes involving multiple shooters.
Khalil Singleton, 8, was killed in his grandmother's yard on Allen Road when the Youngs and Robinson exchanged gunfire on Sept. 1 after a feud over drugs, the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office has said.
Authorities believe Robinson fired the shot that killed Singleton, but Stone said that in this case -- and in future ones like it -- every shooter will be held responsible for every bullet.
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Stone said this approach was prompted by the increase in the number of cases in South Carolina and around the nation in which gunmen fire indiscriminately.
"Across the state and country, groups of people think nothing of shooting into a house... or a crowd of people," Stone said.
Stone presented the murder indictments Monday to Judge Carmen Mullen at the Beaufort County Courthouse. The Sheriff's Office initially charged only Robinson and Young Jr. with murder, while Young Sr. faced weapons and conspiracy charges. A Beaufort County grand jury indicted all three men on murder charges in October.
Stone said the murder charges are supported by numerous statutes, including the felony murder rule. That law states that someone involved in an "inherently dangerous" felony that causes death can be charged with murder.
The three defendants said little at Monday's hearing.
Young Sr. and Young Jr. were both represented by attorney Roberts Vaux, but because of the murder charges, they will go forward with separate lawyers, one of whom will be assigned, Mullen ruled.
Robinson has attempted to defend himself but on Monday agreed to be represented by a yet-to-be-appointed public defender.