A Hilton Head Island teenager who was 15 when he allegedly shot and killed Dominique Williams in an island park in 2015 will be tried as an adult, a Beaufort County Family Court judge ruled Wednesday.
John Duncan, now 17, is accused of shooting and killing the 17-year-old Williams at Coligny Beach Park on July 19, 2015.
Judge Pete Fuge granted the motion by the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office to charge Duncan as an adult late Wednesday. The solicitor’s office announced the ruling in a news release Friday.
Duncan’s case has been transferred to General Sessions Court, and he is being transferred to the Beaufort County Detention Center from a juvenile detention center in Columbia. He will remain in the Beaufort County facility until he has a bond hearing on the murder charge, according to the Solicitor’s Office news release.
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“The offenses were committed in an aggressive, violent, premeditated and willful manner,” according to Fuge’s jurisdiction order. “Although the victim took marijuana from the juvenile, the shooting occurred two days after the incident. The day after the theft, the victim and the juvenile fought. The next day, the juvenile systematically tracked the victim and shot him in the head.”
Fuge considered several factors when deciding whether to move Duncan’s case to General Sessions, including the seriousness of the alleged offense, whether the offense was committed in an aggressive, violent, premeditated or willful manner, the maturity of the accused juvenile, including previous contacts with law enforcement, and protection of the public and likelihood of rehabilitation for the accused.
Prosecutors had asked that Duncan be tried as an adult on Oct. 28.
At that hearing, prosecutors played a video they said showed Duncan shoot Williams once and then run away.
Duncan was turned in by his family two days after the shooting and charged as a juvenile with murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.
He has been held at the Department of Juvenile Justice in Columbia since being turned in.
Prosecutors described the motive as a drug deal gone bad two days prior to Williams’ death.
Williams and his friends drove to meet Duncan, who allegedly posted on Snapchat about having marijuana for sale, Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office investigator Seth Reynells said at the hearing.
The encounter allegedly ended with Williams driving off with the marijuana without paying.
The teens fought the following day, and a video of the fight was recorded on a phone and shown in court.
On the day Williams was killed, he had been playing mini-golf and getting lunch with friends, Reynells said. That evening, Duncan allegedly began what Reynells deemed a “systematic” search for Williams through mutual friends.
Reynells explained what happened next based on accounts by witnesses.
Reynells described Williams walking along the Coligny Beach boardwalk with two friends and Duncan appearing to walk in another direction.
A call or whistle reportedly led Duncan to turn around and begin moving toward Williams, Reynells testified. He appears to walk up to Williams, pull something from a purple bag, shoot Williams once in the face and run away.
A date for Duncan’s bond hearing has not been set yet, the Solicitor’s Office’s release said.
Solicitor Duffie Stone will present the case to a Beaufort County grand jury for possible indictment within 90 days.