Beaufort News

Sheriff, solicitor upset video was released that captures Christmas Eve shooting

Solicitor Duffie Stone said copies of a video released Monday to media outlets that show a tow truck driver firing shots at the man he killed on Christmas Eve might prevent the case from being fairly tried in Beaufort County.

Preston Ryan Oates, 27, of Bluffton and co-owner of Pro Tow, was charged Dec. 27 with manslaughter and felony possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.

Carlos Alberto Olivera, 34, was shot six times -- four times in the back, once in the arm and once in the head -- during an argument over a wheel boot put on Olivera's minivan on Live Oak Walk in Edgefield, according to the Solicitor's Office.

Several news stations Monday broadcast a neighbor's surveillance video that captured portions of the shooting. Olivera's brother, Nelson, who was trying to remove the boot when the shots were fired, provided the footage to the stations.

Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner and Stone said Tuesday they were unaware Nelson Olivera had a copy of the video and didn't know it had been released to the media.

"It's a hindrance to the case," Tanner said. "It's not something that he (Nelson) should have done. We've made multiple requests that he not discuss the incident with anyone. He's become an obstacle."

Tanner said although the video has helped investigators, it doesn't make or break the case.

"The video is not the whole case," he said, "but it helps you put the pieces of the puzzle together a little better."

Stone said the video makes his staff's job harder.

"It's unfortunate it has hit the mainstream media because it jeopardizes the proper prosecution of the case," Stone said. "The video is evidence and all the evidence is important. If the case goes to trial, a jury has to make their determination of guilt or innocence based on what happens in court, not in the media."

Stone said his office has asked witnesses to the incident not to discuss the case with anyone.

"I was surprised to see it (the video) on TV and I was disappointed," Stone said. "I would not have released it, but I can't control what witnesses want to say. I want to make sure we prosecute this case in Beaufort County, and I don't want anything to happen that would change that."

At a preliminary hearing for Oates Friday, Sheriff's Office investigator Staff Sgt. Angela Viens said the video, taken from a camera that faced the passenger side of Oates' tow truck, shows Carlos Olivera at the driver's side the truck.

The video shows Oates' tow truck backing up to the minivan at 8:25 p.m. The shots were fired at 8:30 p.m., Viens said.

Viens said the video shows Olivera turning away. Oates then emerges from the truck and fires his gun, she said. Three muzzle flashes appear on the video. Olivera falls, but his body can't be seen because it is blocked by the truck, she said.

According to Nelson Olivera, Olivera asked Oates to remove the boot, saying the van had been parked on the street for less than 30 minutes. Oates said he would remove the boot for $300, Olivera's brother has said.

Tanner said Tuesday the Sheriff's Office will continue to encourage witnesses to let the investigation take its course. He said other members of the Olivera family do not "condone" the release of the video.

"We understand better than anyone -- because we deal with it routinely -- the impact crimes such as these have on families, friends and the community," Tanner said. "He is trying this case in the court of public opinion, when it should be tried in a courtroom."

Nelson Olivera could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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