Manslaughter suspect Preston Oates remains under house arrest after a judge delayed a motion Monday to revoke bond for the former tow-truck operator, because his defense attorneys asked for more time to prepare.
Oates' lawyer, Jared Newman, told Circuit Court Judge John Hayes he was in the midst of a trial and had not had time to adequately prepare a response to allegations that Oates violated his bond.
Solicitor Duffie Stone requested the hearing to revoke Oates' $200,000 bond after a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office investigation unearthed Oates' cellphone records. Stone said the calls prove Oates has not complied with a judge's order to remain under house arrest.
Newman said the allegations would require him to bring in witnesses, which he had not had time to do.
Hayes agreed, saying that Newman's General Sessions trial takes precedence over the motion to revoke bond, under an S.C. Supreme Court rule.
Stone said it's his responsibility to bring bond violations to the attention of the court. Oates' cellphone records were searched after an investigation into a fake profile set up on a dating website in the name of Sheriff P.J. Tanner. The account was traced to a computer in the home of Oates' father, Paul Oates, the Sheriff's Office has said.
Preston Oates was released from jail eight months after he was charged with fatally shooting 34-year-old Carlos Olivera during a parking dispute on Christmas Eve 2010. He is required to remain at his father's home, at an undisclosed location outside of Beaufort County, except for meetings with lawyers, court dates and medical emergencies.
Oates must call in weekly to a designee of the 14th Circuit Solicitor's Office -- in this case, his bail-bonding company. Stone has said it would be unethical for him or his employees to speak to defendants out on bond before their cases are heard. Instead, Larry's Bail Bonding records Oates' check-in calls and shares them with the Solicitor's Office, Stone said.
The dating-profile investigation found discrepancies in times, dates and locations listed on the weekly call-in sheet. Stone said in court the bond is "unworkable." Oates was granted bond before an electronic-monitoring program was instituted in Beaufort County, in which those under house arrest wear tracking anklets.
Olivera's sister Gisela Olivera, who attended the hearing with relatives, said the delay was all the more disappointing because Christmas is approaching.
This year will mark the second anniversary of her brother's death.
"I don't think it's fair that we'll be spending Christmas bringing flowers to the cemetery instead of being able to hug (Carlos), while Oates will be celebrating with his family," Gisela Olivera said.
A new date for the motion has not been set.
- Oates suspected of violating bond, posing online as Beaufort County sheriff, wife, Oct. 10, 2012
- Fatal tow truck shooting case still pending, Sept. 13, 2012
- Oates not immune from prosecution, judge rules, March 7, 2012
- Suspect in Bluffton Christmas Eve fatal shooting freed on bond, Aug. 31, 2011