Bond set for Hilton Head murder suspect

An 18-year-old Hilton Head Island man accused of murdering an acquaintance was granted bond at a hearing today in the Beaufort County Courthouse despite the prosecution's objections.

Sean Thornton, the 14th Judicial Circuit deputy solicitor, said the DNA of Ja'quard Qu'vonte Aiken was found on shells in a shotgun found near where 19-year-old Cesar Reyna-Reyna was shot on Marshland Road on Dec. 12. He also said a canine track after the shooting led to Aiken's home.

Reyna-Reyna, who was wounded in his front yard, was pronounced dead of his injuries at Hilton Head Hospital a short time later.

Aiken, who lived less than a half-mile from the shooting, was charged with murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime weeks later on Jan. 7. He has been at the Beaufort County Detention Center since his arrest while waiting to appear before a Circuit Court judge.

Thornton asked Judge Michael Nettles to deny Aiken bond and said the investigation into the homicide continues. He said a motive for the shooting has not been verified, although there are "allegations of a dispute."

Aiken's court-appointed attorney, Jared Newman, said his client has no prior criminal record, no history of violence and no evidence he possessed any weapons. Because Aiken comes from a large local family, he is not a flight risk, Newman said.

Though Newman said he can't discuss specific evidence to prove Aiken's innocence, he 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.

Nettles set bond at $50,000 for the murder charge. Aiken also has a $50,000 bond set for the weapon charge.

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. He would not be required to be on electronic monitoring and would be allowed to leave only for appointments with doctors or lawyers and to go to church in the company of a relative.

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