South Carolina

Man accused in Chester shooting claims ‘stand your ground’ protection. Will judge agree?

The defense lawyer for a Chester man says his client from a 2018 shooting should be protected by South Carolina’s stand your ground law.

Mike Duncan said his client, Quinton McClinton, never fired a gun. McClinton is charged with shooting another man on Christmas Day 2018. Duncan says McClinton should not be prosecuted for defending himself.

McClinton was at a party and had done nothing wrong, Duncan said. However, McClinton did have a prior record.

He was sentenced to five years in prison in 2016 when he pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to murder and conspiracy in the shooting death of former Chester City Councilman Odell Williams.

After his release from prison, McClinton, 30, was charged with attempted murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime in the Christmas Day 2018 shooting of Kochese Gregory.

Gregory survived after he was shot in the abdomen, prosecutors said.

“The attempted murder charge should be dismissed,” Duncan said in court Tuesday. “He (McClinton) had no duty to retreat.”

South Carolina law states that a person can have immunity from criminal prosecution if that person stands his ground to prevent being killed or seriously hurt. The law that Duncan cited states: “A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in another place where he has a right to be, including, but not limited to, his place of business, has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he reasonably believes it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or another person or to prevent the commission of a violent crime.”

There was no dispute in court Tuesday that Gregory was shot Christmas morning. But the defense and prosecutors disagree about who shot him, testimony showed.

Prosecutors say Gregory told authorities it was McClinton who shot him. The claim for immunity and stand your ground does not apply because McClinton says he did not shoot Gregory, prosecutors say.

“Stand your ground just doesn’t apply here,” 6th Circuit Deputy Solicitor Candice Lively said in court.

Circuit Court Judge Brian Gibbons heard several hours of testimony but did not decide Tuesday whether prosecutors can move forward against McClinton, or if charges should be dropped.

Duncan also said evidence shows Gregory had a gun.

“(McClinton) had a right to be there and was defending himself,” Duncan said. in court. “Mr. Gregory had a gun and was pointing it.”

Gregory later was charged with shooting at McClinton, but those charges were dismissed by prosecutors, testimony on Tuesday showed.

Lively said McClinton obtained a weapon outside the nightclub where there had been a fight.

“It is our position the fight was over and Mr. McClinton chose to retrieve the gun and he shot Mr. Gregory,” Lively said in court. “Mr. Gregory almost died.”

Wade Young, a Chester County Sheriff’s Office deputy who was a first responder, testified that Gregory said while wounded that it was McClinton who shot him.

The scene Christmas morning was chaotic, police and others testified testified. Police never recovered the weapon used to shoot Gregory, testimony showed.

Duncan said McClinton used a pool cue against as many as a dozen people.

“Mr. McClinton denies having any firearms period,” Duncan said. “He is seeking immunity from prosecution for his use of the pool cue.”

Carlton Dixon, McClinton’s cousin, testified Tuesday that he was with McClinton at the party, and McClinton did not have a weapon.

“He had no gun at all, period,” Dixon testified. “I ain’t got no reason to lie.”

Dixon testified under cross examination from Lively that he and McClinton had a fight with Gregory outside the club before the shooting started.

In previous hearings prosecutors have said McClinton is a danger to the community and a documented member of the Bloods gang. McClinton has been jailed without bond on the pending charges since shortly after the Christmas incident.

In the 2014 incident where Odell Williams was killed, McClinton and other members of the Roundtree Circle gang, which is part of the Bloods gang plotted an armed robbery of rival gang members before Williams chased them through the streets of Chester in November 2014, previous court testimony showed.

McClinton was identified during 2016 trial testimony in William’s murder as a leader of the gang that planned the robbery before Williams engaged the crew in a shootout. Williams was a retired Chester Police Department officer.

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