A father and son charged in the shooting death of an 8-year-old boy on Hilton Head Island have been indicted on lesser charges in the case, according to the 14th Circuit Solicitor's Office.
Aaron Young Sr. and Aaron Young Jr. are still charged with murder in the death of Khalil Singleton on Sept. 1, 2012, but were also indicted on charges of attempted murder last month, Solicitor Duffie Stone said. One of the men's defense lawyers said the attempted-murder charges are more appropriate and that the murder charges should never have been filed.
The Youngs are accused of trying to kill Tyrone Robinson, who was convicted in September of murdering Singleton. The 8-year-old boy was killed while playing on Allen Road, struck by a stray bullet from Robinson's gun as he fired at the Youngs.
The Youngs' joint trial was scheduled to begin Monday , but the men's defense attorneys asked Judge Thomas Cooper Jr. for a delay until February, after the Solicitor's Office brought the new charges. Cooper officially granted their request Thursday, according to Robert Ferguson, who is representing Young Sr.
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"I guess (the prosecution is) still trying to figure out their theory of the case," Ferguson said.
During Robinson's trial, prosecutors presented evidence that suggested the Youngs fired numerous shots at Robinson's empty car while it was parked on Allen Road. Ferguson said he disputes some of that story.
The prosecution has also made some slight changes to the wording of the Youngs' murder indictments. The indictments no longer refer to an "inherently dangerous felony" of a gun battle, but state the Youngs engaged in mutual combat with Tyrone Robinson and therefore caused Singleton to be shot and killed.
In an interview in August, Sheriff P.J. Tanner said he also was surprised by the murder charges, which were added more than a month after the Youngs' arrest. Initially, they were only charged with discharging a firearm into a vehicle.
"I felt like we had appropriately charged everyone with the crimes that were committed," Tanner said. "I had nothing to do with the charges thereafter."
Stone declined to comment on the pending case but said he, Ferguson and Roberts Vaux -- Young Jr.'s attorney -- needed more time to prepare.
They are also waiting to receive transcripts of Robinson's trial. Attempts to reach Vaux were unsuccessful.
The three suspects were originally to be tried together in April, but a judge postponed the trial after new evidence -- recorded interviews with the Youngs -- surfaced.
Based on those interrogations, Ferguson and Vaux argued that their clients were coerced by investigators to give information and lead them to the gun they used to shoot at Robinson's car.
That gun was the only weapon recovered from the crime.
Before the Youngs' trial begins in February, a judge will decide whether they gave their help voluntarily and whether their attorneys can request any evidence be withheld from the jury.
Ferguson said he does not know if the Youngs will testify in court.
He added that he was bolstered by Robinson's conviction, which should tell a jury the man responsible for Singleton's death is already behind bars. He said he and Vaux do not plan to call Robinson as a witness, citing his "unpredictability."
"We just don't know what he would say," Ferguson said. "We don't think he'd be able to add to our defense."
Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.