Crime & Courts

Attorney: Rock Hill lawyer’s son suffered ‘psychotic episode’

Osiris Hinton
Osiris Hinton

Osiris Hinton suffered a “psychotic episode” just before shooting and killing his father, prominent Rock Hill criminal defense lawyer O. Cyrus Hinton, at the family’s Spartanburg home, his lawyer and mother said Friday.

The 23-year-old has battled mental illness for three years, they said, and they blamed a change in medications and a new course of psychiatric treatment for his actions.

Attorney Michael Brown said the killing of his former law partner is not a case of “a young black man having a gun,” fatal situations that have become far too common.

Circuit Court Judge R. Scott Sprouse denied bond for Hinton, but he ruled in response to a request from Brown that Hinton could be allowed a private viewing of his father’s body before his funeral, scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday in Shelby, if Spartanburg deputies agreed to transport Hinton under armed guard. However, that request was denied late Friday, said Lt. Kevin Bobo, spokesman for the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office.

Sprouse ordered expedited mental health testing for Hinton, saying the case “clearly is a mental-health issue” and calling the Hintons a “very fine family.”

Hinton, who has no previous criminal record, is charged with murder after confessing to shooting his father in the face with his father’s 9 mm handgun Sunday night. He called 911 and told officers, “I killed my father!”

But Brown, who is also a Spartanburg County Councilman, said in court Friday that the family was dealing Sunday with Osiris Hinton’s behavior following a change in medication and doctors. That “ongoing situation with mental illness,” Brown said, culminated in the death of O. Cyrus Hinton.

After the hearing, Brown declined to say what condition Osiris Hinton has been treated for or to elaborate on the recent medication and treatment changes.

Brown, who said he has known Osiris Hinton since the boy was in elementary school, said it was “his duty” to represent him, even though the victim is Brown’s friend and former law partner.

Phoebe Hinton said her son is not a violent person, blaming the “psychiatric industry” that, she said, did not do what it was supposed to do in treating her son before her husband was killed.

Osiris Hinton’s battle with mental illness forced him to withdraw from college, she said, and had been hospitalized previously for psychiatric treatment.

“The situation is not Osiris’ fault,” Phoebe Hinton said. “Because of someone else, we have to deal with this loss. We love Osiris, and his family is behind him. We don’t blame him.”

She and her husband had been “diligent and adamant in getting Osiris the help he needs,” Phoebe Hinton said. “He loved Osiris and would give his life to see him overcome this mental health problem.”

Both Brown and Phoebe Hinton said Osiris Hinton needs in-patient mental health treatment at a hospital that he can’t get in jail.

Seventh Circuit Solicitor Barry Barnette opposed bond, saying Hinton could be a danger to himself if released.

Many professional friends of O. Cyrus Hinton – including educators, lawyers and Omega Psi Phi fraternity brothers – attended the bond hearing.

O. Cyrus Hinton, 47, lived in Spartanburg but maintained his law practice in downtown Rock Hill. He was active in a mentoring program for young black men, and often provided life guidance to the young men he often represented in criminal cases.

Hinton was a dedicated parent who had tried to help his son for years, his friends said, because “for a long time, they knew Osiris was not right.”

Andrew Dys •  803-329-4065