Crime & Courts

2015 trial looks likely for ex-trooper

A timeline was set Monday morning for a trial to be held for a fired S.C. Highway Patrol trooper accused of shooting a motorist he pulled over for a seat belt violation.

Nicole Holland, a spokeswoman with the 5th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, which is prosecuting the case, said the solicitor requested that 270 days – the longest time possible – be allotted to reach a conclusion in the case of Sean Groubert.

That means a trial verdict may not be reached until at least July 2015.

Depending on the complexity of the case and severity of the offense, the solicitor can determine whether a case’s conclusion should be reached in 120, 180 or 270 days, according to the Differentiated Case Management System.

“The complexity of the case is a major factor in determining which track is appropriate,” Holland said. “The track begins the day the defendant is notified to which tract his or her case is assigned.” In the case of Groubert, that was Monday.

The system was suggested by Supreme Court Chief Justice Toal, former 5th Circuit Solicitor Barney Giese and former 5th Circuit Chief Administrative Judge Henry Floyd in January 2003 to reduce the backlog of cases in Richland County.

Groubert, 31, faces a felony charge of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature in connection with the Sept. 4 shooting of Levar Jones at a Broad River Road gas station.

A video of the incident shows Groubert pull up behind Jones’ car, and as Jones gets out, leaving the door of his car ajar, Groubert asks for his license.

Jones quickly leans back into the car, and Groubert pulls his weapon and shouts, “Get out of the car!”

Groubert shoots several times as he yells two more times, “Get out of the car!” Jones appears hit by the first shot, raises his hands in the air and stumbles away from the vehicle.

Jones was struck at least once in the hip and was treated at a hospital.

Groubert, a lance corporal at the time of the incident, was fired Sept. 19 after an investigation.

His attorney,Giese, has said the shooting was justified, though he has not provided details.

Groubert faces 20 years if convicted.

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