COLUMBIA, SC — A judge has denied a request that the 5th Circuit Solicitor’s Office be removed from prosecuting the case against a man accused of killing a USC professor.
Hank Hawes, 38, was charged with murder in the August 2011 stabbing death of Jennifer Wilson, a USC professor in the Department of Instruction and Teacher Education.
Luke Shealey, the public defender representing Hawes, asked for the entire solicitor’s office to be recused from the case because an assistant solicitor is a witness in the case.
The assistant solicitor is not prosecuting the case.
But DeAndrea G. Benjamin said Shealey had failed to show how the assistant solicitor’s role as a witness impeded Hawes’ right to a fair trial. It was unclear Friday who she was a witness for.
Removing an entire office from a case is extreme, the judge wrote in her order, and this instance did not warrant such action.
No trial date has been set. Hawes has been in the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center since his arrest.
The couple had met through an online dating site, but Wilson, 36, had tried to end the relationship after receiving warnings from other women who said they had dated Hawes.
Hawes had a reputation for presenting himself as wealthy and sophisticated only to trap women in abusive relationships that not only were financially draining but in some cases violent, according to court documents in Florida and South Carolina and previous comments made by other women he dated.
Police allege that Hawes stabbed Wilson to death inside her Shandon duplex and then hid inside for several hours.
A neighbor had called the police after hearing a disturbance inside the duplex, but police did not go inside because the house was dark and silent after they arrived.
Hawes had a prior domestic violence arrest in Florida. During Hawes’ bond hearing, Assistant Solicitor Dolly Justice Garfield said she and law enforcement believed that Hawes had committed more violent acts but those were not reported by his victims.
Reach Phillips at (803) 771-8307.