An 18-year-old Hilton Head Island man accused of murdering a 19-year-old man on Marshland Road was granted bond at a hearing Wednesday despite the prosecution's objections.
Ja'quard Qu'vonte Aiken's bond for the murder charge was set at $50,000 by Circuit Court Judge Michael Nettles in the Beaufort County Courthouse. Aiken's bond for a related weapon charge was set previously at $50,000.
If he can post 10 percent of $100,000, Nettles ruled Aiken could be released to house arrest at his grandmother's home in Jasper County, where he would not be near the victim's family. Aiken would not be required to be on electronic monitoring and could leave the house only for medical appointments and to attend church with a relative.
Aiken's DNA was found on shells in a shotgun discovered near where Cesar Reyna-Reyna was shot Dec. 12, said Sean Thornton, 14th Judicial Circuit deputy solicitor. He also said a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office canine team led officers to Aiken's home, which is less than a half-mile away, just after the shooting.
Reyna-Reyna, who was wounded in his front yard, was pronounced dead at Hilton Head Hospital a short time later.
Aiken was charged with murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime on Jan. 7 after the Sheriff's Office said it received forensics results linking him to the murder weapon. He has been at the Beaufort County Detention Center since his arrest, waiting to appear before a judge.
Thornton had asked Nettles to deny bond and said the investigation into the homicide continues. He said a motive has not been established, although there are "allegations of a dispute."
Aiken's attorney, Jared Newman, said his client has no prior criminal record, no history of violence and there is no evidence he possessed any weapons. Because Aiken comes from a large local family, he is not a flight risk, Newman said.
Newman said he has several witnesses who can provide an alibi for Aiken. The state's evidence is "circumstantial," he said.
"At this point, I don't even know if (the two men) did know each other, other than very casually from living in the same area," Newman said after the hearing.
Members of Reyna-Reyna's family declined to speak during or after the hearing.
Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Sgt. Robin McIntosh said that although the investigation is still active, investigators don't believe there were accomplices to the shooting and are not searching for other suspects.
Witnesses reported to the Sheriff's Office that a man was seen in the yard with Reyna-Reyna moments before the shooting. The Sheriff's Office has said Aiken matches the description.
Aiken has not yet been brought before a grand jury on the charges, Thornton said.