The State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting case involving Sen. R.C. Soles, but it appears it will be up to District Attorney Rex Gore to decide whether or not to pursue charges.
Monday, Gore released a written statement in which he said, “I understand there may be some sense of immediacy in obtaining comments and/or answers relating to the shooting at the home of Sen. R.C. Soles on Sunday, August 23. I have met with the lead investigator and reviewed preliminary reports. However, we are still in the fact-gathering mode and
will not know what charges, if any, will be made. Nor do we know who, if anyone, will be charged. We will not know those answers until we have had the opportunity to review all the data collected by officers during this investigation. I do not have a timetable for those answers. Since there is currently an on-going SBI investigation into the shooting, I will not be addressing other questions on the matter. In addition, for anyone wanting to address the issues of self defense or defense of habitation, my staff and I will not be able to discuss those at this time. Since those concepts may play a vital role in determining the ultimate outcome of this incident, I must reserve any comment on those principles until the full investigative report has been reviewed.”
Some observers have asked if Gore has plans to recuse himself as the prosecutor in this case. Gore and Soles have a long standing friendship, and are political allies in the Democratic Party. In fact, Sen. Soles has given money to Rex Gore’s campaign for district attorney, and Gore has given money to Soles’s campaign with thousands of dollars changing hands over the years.
According to published reports, the two were linked back in the 1980s in a federal case known as Col-Cor, which was short for Columbus County corruption. The reports say Sen. Soles was indicted on charges of conspiracy, perjury, aiding and abetting bribery, and buying votes for Gore, who was then a candidate for district attorney. Several of the charges were dropped for lack of evidence and Soles was ultimately acquitted on the remaining charge.
The law allows for a district attorney to ask for another DA or the attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor on a case, if there is a conflict of interest, or even an appearance of a conflict of interest on a case. Attorneys tell us that the guidelines advise DAs to use an abundance of caution, and step aside if there is any doubt in the community’s mind of a DA’s ability to be objective because of a personal relationship. We asked Gore about these concerns Monday. He told us he didn’t want to go on camera, but said on the phone there is no conflict of interest.
Gore says he’s not in the habit of recusing himself from hard decisions, and doesn’t plan to do so in this case. We did speak with him on camera earlier this month when the state first began its investigation. Gore said, “I would hope people would trust me to do the right thing.”
One question we haven’t been able to get an answer to: why has nobody been arrested in this shooting? If it was clearly self-defense, you might think that the two alleged intruders, BJ Wright and Kyle Blackburn would be facing charges or under arrest. If it was not self-defense, some have asked why the Senator hasn’t been arrested for assault with a deadly weapon. The SBI is handling the case, and all it will tell us at this point is it’s under investigation.