For nine months, Beaufort County's sheriff and solicitor utilized a seldom-used law to compel witnesses to testify about a nightclub shootout on St. Helena Island last year that left two men dead and two others wounded.
On Friday, 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone announced the results of that investigation -- and more murder charges -- after 61 witnesses testified before a grand jury.
Two men were arrested June 21, the day of the shooting at the Midnight Soul Patrol, and charged in connection with the incident. A third was arrested Friday.
The charges include:
- Lucas Miles Morgan, 26, of St. Helena had been charged the day after the shooting with the attempted murder of his cousin, Richard Earl Green Jr., 25, of Beaufort. Morgan was charged by a grand jury Thursday with the murder of his brother, Michael Douglas Morgan, 26, of St. Helena, and of Dante Kendall Bailey, 33, also of St. Helena. Morgan was also charged with the attempted murder of Robert Goodwine Jr., 20, of St. Helena.
Murder charges added for 2 previously arrested in St. Helena club shooting
Bowers and Lucas Morgan will appear before a Circuit Court judge next month for a bond hearing on the new murder charges, Stone said.
The new charges were the culmination of an investigation that used the state's "mob law" to compel witnesses to the shooting to testify. The law allows for subpoenas to be issued to witnesses of a violent crime.
More than 50 people witnessed the shooting at Midnight Soul Patrol, known to locals as the "Poot Shack," but few cooperated with deputies. By mid-August, Stone and Sheriff P.J. Tanner began to use the mob law, issuing subpoenas as part of their investigation.
The 14th Circuit Solicitor's Office had 61 witnesses testify in front of the grand jury as part of the investigation led by Assistant Solicitor Meredith Bannon and Sheriff's Office Cpl. Adam Zsamar, Stone said.
The mob statute, a section of a 1951 law passed to crack down on lynching, says witnesses can be subpoenaed by a solicitor without first indicting a suspect, if the crime is violent and committed by two or more people against another person or group.
Stone said it was the first time, to his knowledge, the statute has been used to compel witnesses to testify in South Carolina. He plans to continue to use it in violent cases in which more than three people are involved.
The gunfight at the club broke out just before 1:30 a.m. between what was described at the time as two "feuding parties."
A witness to the shooting, Shana Green, said she found Michael Morgan lying on steps outside a home about 50 feet from the red, wooden nightclub on Toomer Road. He was airlifted to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, where he later died.
Deputies stopping a vehicle leaving the scene found Bailey in the back seat. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Green was also airlifted to the Medical University of South Carolina, but his injuries weren't disclosed until Friday.
Goodwine was treated and released at Beaufort Memorial Hospital on the same day as the shooting.