Crime & Public Safety

Man charged in Khalil Singleton's death sues Beaufort County jail

Tyrone Robinson
Tyrone Robinson Submitted photo

One of the three men charged in the 2012 shooting death of an 8-year-old boy on Hilton Head Island is suing the Beaufort County Detention Center and its director for more than $5 million.

Tyrone Robinson, 38, is being held in the jail without bond, charged with murder in the death of Khalil Singleton. Robinson alleges in a handwritten lawsuit he filed himself on June 11 that he has been unlawfully imprisoned since the end of last year because he filed several motions requesting a "speedy trial" throughout 2013 and was not granted one.

His lawsuit contends that because his case did not go to trial before the end of court sessions in December, he should have been released under South Carolina law.

However, judges denied his "speedy trial" motions, which he also filed himself from jail, according to court records.

Robinson seeks immediate release, without bail, and damages of $10,000 for each day he has been in jail -- which amounts to more than $5 million. In addition, Robinson seeks more than $600,000 that he says he would have made from the seafood and jewelry businesses he was trying to open when he was arrested, according to the lawsuit.

Robinson has been in the jail since he was arrested in September 2012.

Singleton was killed by a bullet that hit him in the torso during a gunfight between Robinson, Aaron Young Sr., and his son, Aaron Young Jr., on Sept. 1, 2012, on Allen Road on Hilton Head Island, authorities have said.

The three men were charged with the boy's murder, but their joint trial in April was derailed after mishandled evidence in the case surfaced the day before it was to begin. The three men will now each be tried separately, and Robinson is expected to be tried later this year.

At his own insistence, Robinson defended himself during pretrial proceedings, including a bond hearing in September 2012. But after the April trial collapsed, he was granted a request to have public defender Arie Bax represent him.

Attempts to reach Bax for comment were unsuccessful.

"There's nothing in his civil lawsuit that will affect us going forward in the criminal case," 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone said Wednesday.

Stone is prosecuting the criminal case against Robinson, but said he has not read the lawsuit and could not comment further.

In 28 handwritten pages filed with the court, Robinson repeatedly quotes a South Carolina statute, section 17-23-90, which says a prisoner should be released without bail if he demands to be brought to trial but is not tried by the second term following his commitment. The lawsuit contends that should have been at the end of last year.

Beaufort County attorney Josh Gruber said Wednesday the lawsuit had not yet been served to him, so he declined to comment on the complaint filed against jail director Phil Foot and the detention center.

However, Robinson's claim may be without merit, Gruber said.

"Looking at the statute cited by Mr. Robinson, the statute says that a defendant has to be tried or indicted within the time period listed in the statute," Gruber said. "My understanding is that Mr. Robinson was arrested in September of 2012 and was summarily indicted by grand jury in October of 2012. Therefore, it appears that this claim may be baseless and completely without merit."

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