September 30, 2013

Lawyer can stop defending man accused of shooting costumed trick-or-treater

The defense lawyer for Quentin Lamar Patrick — the man accused in the Halloween 2008 shooting death of a 12-year-old Sumter boy — will not be allowed to withdraw from the case but will be allowed to take his client to the scene of the crime, a circuit court judge ruled Monday.

Citing the necessity for the defendant to develop a proper defense, Judge John C. Hayes III, a resident judge for the 16th Judicial Circuit, granted Patrick and his attorney, John Clark, access to the crime scene so they could illustrate their version of how the events that took place that fateful night.

“So long as ample security is provided, I don’t see why access to the crime scene should be denied at this time,” Hayes said.

At the same time, Hayes refused Clark’s wish to withdraw as Patrick’s attorney because of a lack of payment for his services from Patrick’s family.

“We made an agreement with the family that they would pay the legal and investigator fees for Mr. Patrick’s case,” Clark said. “I have not received payment from his family in quite some time, and carrying Mr. Patrick’s case without receiving compensation would put an unnecessary strain on my office.”

Patrick faces five charges from an Oct. 31, 2008, incident when Patrick allegedly shot and killed 12-year-old Tony “T.J.” Darrishaw.

According to police reports, T.J. approached Patrick’s former residence on Halloween night as a trick-or-treater. When T.J. knocked on the door, Patrick reportedly fired 29 rounds from an AK-47 assault rifle, striking T.J., his 9-year-old brother, Ahmadre, and stepfather several times. T.J. would die less than a half-hour later from his injuries at Tuomey Regional Medical Center. His brother and stepfather survived.

Speaking from her home in Tennessee, Daphne Grinnell, T.J.’s mother, said she was happy to hear to outcome of Monday’s hearings.

“It’s been five long years since this began,” she said. “I’m so glad (Solicitor Ernest “Chip” Finney III and Hayes) agree that this needs to move forward now. I’ve been so stressed in dealing with it all. I have one child gone, another one who was hurt and is still coping with the loss of his brother, and then I’ve got my own grief to deal with. It’s terrible. I just want closure.”

“I can’t bring my son back; I know that,” she continued, “but this needs to be finished. The fact that some people keep trying to make it last longer and longer is hurtful. It’s been five years, and it feels like a smack in the face that it’s taken so long.”

The charges levied against Patrick from the shooting include one count of murder, two counts of assault and battery with intent to kill, one count of assault with intent to kill, as well as one count of manufacturing crack cocaine.

Patrick reportedly told investigators he reacted out of fear for his life, referencing an incident in which he was allegedly shot through his mother’s door and nearly died just months prior.

As far as the trial itself, Finney said he is hopeful that jury selection will be completed Monday as prosecutors hope to bring a swift end to this case.

“We’ve got till January,” he said, “but we’re going to finish it this year. The victim’s family will have their day in court.”

Still, there are other factors in play. A search of Patrick’s name in the Sumter County Public Index revealed the defense has also motioned for a continuance and a change of venue. It is unclear as to whether or not any judgment has been declared on either motion, but the latter motion must be heard before the trial judge, as per state law.

The motion for Clark to withdraw from the case was filed Sept. 23, Hayes pointed out, questioning why Clark delayed the action for so long. Clark then explained that Patrick was confined within a federal prison in Florida, where he served time for the federal weapons charges from the 2008 shooting, until August, when he was transported to Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center. The attorney claimed there was a lack of time needed to adequately determine whether or not he should or would withdraw as council.

Clark also contested that he did not agree to defend Patrick on the drug charge listed as part of the case.

Finney made a counter argument, emphasizing a need for the trial to move forward before Patrick is to be returned to federal prison. Assistant Solicitor Tyler Brown then elaborated that Patrick was transferred into local custody in August on the premise he would be returned by Jan. 1, 2014, or at the conclusion of the trial.

“We only have him in Sumter for a limited time,” Finney said. “We’ve been waiting to proceed with this trial and granting this withdrawal would be a major setback. We only have until the end of the year before we have to send him back.”

Hayes agreed with Finney’s assessment and denied Clark’s motion for withdrawal.

“I regret that you’re in your current situation regarding Mr. Patrick, but we have to move forward with this case,” Hayes said to Clark.

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