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Charges dismissed in 2013 murder case

After being held in custody for over one year, a South Carolina man accused of murder will be freed. It is possible that charges could be re-filed in the case after the judge dismissed the case without prejudice. The defendant was taken into custody on March 22, 2013, and was charged with tampering with physical evidence, aggravated assault and first-degree murder.

In all, six people were taken into custody in connection with the alleged murder of a 28-year-old female. In April, the woman's ex-boyfriend was sentenced to 25 years in prison after entering a guilty plea to the charge of second-degree murder per domestic violence as part of a plea agreement.

According to court documents, on Aug. 18, the main witness for the prosecution told a judge that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment Right to remain silent and would not testify against the defendant. The witness was offered immunity by a state prosecutor, but the witness still refused to testify. The witness was found in contempt of court by a judge and received a 60-day jail sentence.

While the defendant in this case received a lucky break due to a key witness' refusal to testify, it is more common for cases involving murder or other serious crimes to be resolved by either a plea bargain or a trial. A criminal defense lawyer may look at a case to see if there may be grounds for dismissal such as issues with evidence such as a lack of chain of custody or contamination. In the event that the evidence is strong and the defendant's rights have been upheld, the lawyer may suggest a plea deal. If the defendant does not agree to the terms of a plea agreement, the case may proceed to trial.

Source: KYMA, "Case dismissed against man charged with Murder", August 20, 2014

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