Man arrested in kidnapping, assault

A suspect in the weekend abduction and beating of a woman has been arrested -- for the second time on the same charges with the same woman, Richland County Sheriff’s deputies said Monday.

“It’s very disconcerting,” Lt. Chris Cowan said Monday afternoon.

In the most recent case, Travis Stewart, 31, has been charged with kidnapping, burglary and assault and battery with intent to kill,. He is being held without bond

In an earlier set of charges, brought in 2006, Stewart was arrested in 2008 on kidnapping, burglary and assault and batter of a high and aggravated nature charges with the same woman, officials said.

However, in that case, the woman refused to testify, saying that she and Stewart had reconciled, according to the 5th Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s office.

In December, 2008, Stewart was sentenced to prison on a reduced set of charges stemming from the 2006 incident with the woman. He had apparently been released from prison in recent months. The date and circumstances of his release from state prison were not immediately available.

“It’s kind of hard to help people when they won’t let us help them,” said assistant solicitor Richard Cathcart, speaking of the reduced charges in the first case.

In the current case, Stewart is said to have shot a firearm at the victim, and a third-party witness is said to have observed that shooting, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said in a press release.

If that is true, Stewart might be eligible to be prosecuted in local U.S. courts for violating federal gun laws. It is against federal law for convicted felons - which Stewart is - to possess firearms or ammunition.

Federal judges, unlike state judges, must impose lengthy mandatory prison sentences for gun law violations.

“If we have other witnesses in the current cases, that could be a great bonus to us, rather than relying on a hostile witness,” Cathcart said. He said he needed to learn more about the current case, since Stewart was just arrested Monday.

In the weekend case, a man used force to get into a Northeast Richland home of a 30-year-old woman. He then assaulted her.

The man dragged the woman outside, shoved her into his car and drove off. As he drove, the woman grabbed his steering wheel, causing him to wreck.

The woman then fled on foot, getting a ride with a bystander. The abductor fired several shots at the pair as they escaped, Lott said.

Stewart was arrested Monday at 43 Maingate Drive in Northeast Richland County. County deputies assisted by SLED and a K-9 dog team helped in the arrest.