A Union jury couldn't reach a decision Wednesday in the trial of a man accused of threatening a state trooper.
Damon Neal, 25, of 426 Whitlock Lake Road was tried on the charge of threatening a public official.
A mistrial was declared by Circuit Judge John C. Hayes III of Rock Hill. Deputy Clerk of Court Sandra Foster said the jury deliberated about three hours and in that time sent out notes twice to Hayes saying they were deadlocked.
Deputy Solicitor John Anthony said the state would bring Neal's case to trial again.
Neal was arrested on Dec. 3, 2006. According to a Highway Patrol report, Sgt. M.S. Weaver, other troopers and county deputies were conducting a driver's checkpoint on S.C. 18 at the Union and Cherokee County line when Neal pulled up in a 2001 Honda. Another trooper was checking Neal's license and registration. Weaver was standing on the passenger's side of the car and saw Neal put something in his mouth.
Weaver began asking Neal questions. Neal answered by shaking his head and would not answer verbally. Weaver told Neal to open his mouth and let him see what he had placed in it. He refused. Weaver took Neal out of the car and again asked him to open his mouth to see if he had placed drugs inside it.
The report said Neal tried to run. Troopers and Sgt. Russell Vinson with the Union County Sheriff's Office grabbed Neal and he tried to jerk away. As they attempted to arrest him he began to throw his elbows and fists. One trooper was struck in the face, which caused his nose to bleed. Officers noted Neal smelled like alcohol and they thought he had put crack cocaine in his mouth. The report said he swallowed whatever was in his mouth.
Weaver advised Neal he was under arrest for being drunk in public. He continued to struggle but was handcuffed. Then, he began threatening Weaver and his family, saying he knew Weaver's wife, what she drove, where they lived, where she worked and that he would “get them back.”
The report said Neal threatened Weaver all the way to the Union County Jail and said if officers would “drop all of this,” he would take back all of the threats he had made.
Man pleads guilty
A Spartanburg man involved in a shooting in Union in 2004 pleaded guilty Monday in court.
Al Jarod Bell, 24, whose last address was 252 Edgewood Ave., pleaded guilty to assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. Circuit Judge John C. Hayes III of Rock Hill gave Bell a 10-year prison sentence, suspended the sentence to five years of probation and ordered Bell to pay $6,241 in restitution to cover the victim's medical bills.
Bell was taken into custody in December by the Union Public Safety Department after he completed a sentence in the State Department of Corrections for a driving under suspension violation.
The shooting occurred on May 15, 2004 at 100 New St. A witness said two men drove up in an older model Chevrolet Caprice and one got into an argument with Bell. The witness said one man from the car took out a handgun and struck Bell with it in the chest, causing him to fall backwards. She said the other man who was in the car pulled out a handgun and began shooting at Bell. Bell pulled a handgun from his pants and started shooting back, striking one of the men in the chest. The men got back into the Caprice and the injured man was driven to the hospital.
The victim recovered from the shooting.
Bell initially was charged with assault and battery with intent to kill.
Deputy Solicitor John Anthony said it took so long for the case to come to court because officials lost track of Bell for a time. Bell quit coming to court roll call and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. In the meantime he was arrested for Spartanburg County violations and went to prison.
Anthony said Bell was allowed to plead guilty to the lesser charge because there were significant self-defense issues in the case.
“The victim hit the defendant with a gun,” Anthony said.
The probation offer was made to Bell by another solicitor before Anthony came to work in Union.
“Given the factual differences we had I think this was a good way to resolve the case,” Anthony said.
The following guilty pleas were heard Wednesday in General Sessions Court:
Ernest Gregory, 2293 Browns Creek Church Road, Union, to resisting arrest, 30 days weekend time beginning Friday.
Cedric Tucker, 583 Labaw Road, Carlisle, to failure to stop for a blue light, three years suspended to 18 months and three years probation; to assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, eight years suspended to 18 months, three years probation and $500 to the public defender fund; to possession of a firearm with an altered serial number, five years suspended to 18 months and three years probation; and possession of marijuana, second, one year concurrent.