More tonight on the criminal charges Senator RC Soles could soon be facing.
Thursday, a Columbus County grand jury found probable cause to seek an indictment against Soles for assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.
In late August, Soles shot 22-year-old Kyle Blackburn outside the Senator’s home in Tabor City.
Blackburn was a client of Soles’ law firm. Soles told police he shot Blackburn in self-defense, saying that Blackburn was trying to break into his home. Blackburn told us he was leaving the property when he was shot.
While what happens within a grand jury proceeding is secret, we can presume that ballistics evidence was part of what was reviewed yesterday, specifically whether the bullet wound indicated that Blackburn was facing the Senator or running away when he was shot.
We also know surveillance cameras were running at Senator Soles’ house at the time of the shooting.
The shooting itself wasn’t captured on camera, but what transpired before and after the shooting may have helped the jurors determine how the events played out.
There’s a lot of speculation about what role these proceedings could have on the Senator’s role as a representative.
Soles has not said whether or not he will run for re-election next year, but one political watchdog says it might be time for some new faces in the senate.
A grand jury requested an indictment against Senator Soles for assault with a deadly weapon, and legal experts say that decision means Soles will likely be indicted.
Senator Soles’ lawyer Joe Cheshire issued a statement, downplaying the significance of the grand jury’s decision.
Cheshire said, “A presentment does not institute criminal proceedings against any person. As the grand jury continues its work, Senator Soles continues to maintain that he acted in defense of his life and his home on August 23, 2009.”
The SBI is also investigating sexual allegations against Soles.
Political watchdog Joe Sinsheimer says the Senator could be in for a long legal battle. “The shooting incident at his home doesn’t appear to be an isolated event. It seems to be part of this larger issue and I think that’s why it’s taking additional time.”
Senator Soles’ term runs through the end of 2010, but Sinsheimer says regardless of the legal proceedings it might be time for Senator Soles to step down. “I think Senator Soles has had his time in Raleigh. I think we’re seeing a change of guard in Raleigh with Senator Rand’s resignation. I think we’ve had a small group of senators control that institution for a long time and I think it would be in Senator Soles’ best interest if he stepped aside and let some new blood emerge because that’s what the institution desperately needs.”
Democratic Party Political Chairman Melvin Williams declined to comment on any of the ongoing litigation or investigations. However, if Soles decides to resign Williams would be in charge of the committee to find a replacement.
Soles is declining to speak to us about the possible indictment, but Columbus County residents are certainly talking.
While some Columbus County residents agree with the grand jury’s decision, others are continuing to support their longtime senator.
“Whether he be a senator, or whoever, he should be treated like everyone else. As far as I’m concerned with the allegations, he should have to do the time, just like me or you would,” said Trent Hughes of Tabor City.
“He’s only human and things happen in everyone’s lives,” said Daisy Thomas of Whiteville.
The State Prosecutor’s Office says it will bring an indictment against Soles before the grand jury early next month.
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