June 4 Lexington County officials resumed court activity for General Sessions guilty pleas inside the Mark H. Westbrook Judicial Center.
Safety measures and courtroom guidelines were established by Lexington County Clerk of Court Lisa Comer and Chief Administrative Judge Frank R. Addy, Jr. Precautions included mandatory face masks for participants, social distancing, and a requirement that no more than 10 persons be present inside the courtroom.
Today’s court activity marked the first in-person General Sessions court activity in Lexington County since the March 23 closure of the Judicial Center by court order due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chief Administrative Judge Addy presided over the proceedings, which included multiple felony cases:
- Joseph Anthony Moye, 44, received the maximum sentence of 15 years for Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor – Third Degree. This crime occurred in the Spring of 2017. Moye is a repeat sex offender, with prior convictions for criminal sexual conduct, burglary, and strong arm robbery. This case was prosecuted by Deputy Solicitor Suzanne Mayes.
- Ekarius Moore, 19, was sentenced to 14 years for two counts of Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature, stemming from a shooting incident which occurred on December 3, 2017. Two female victims were shot and injured following a verbal altercation with Moore. Both victims addressed the court prior to sentencing. Under South Carolina law, these crimes are classified as violent and Moore must serve at least 85 percent of the sentence. This case was handled by Assistant Solicitor Russell Parker.
- Maximilian P. Krause, 23, pled guilty to Unlawful Conduct towards a Child and was sentenced to 10 years, suspended upon the service of 6 years incarceration. Krause was charged with assaulting a two year old victim on September 22, 2019. This case was prosecuted by Assistant Solicitor LeAnna McMenamin.
- Tavis Werts, 27, pled guilty to Assault and Battery – First Degree for his role in a drive-by shooting that occurred in downtown Batesburg on May 4, 2018. Werts and a co-defendant were charged with firing multiple rounds in the direction of bystanders in the area of West Church Street. The investigation determined that the shooting was connected to gang activity. Fortunately, no one was injured by the gunfire. This case was handled by Assistant Solicitor Bradley Pogue.
When the Lexington County Judicial Center closed in March due to the pandemic, authorities established a video-conferencing system for court hearings which began April 3. Since that time, 118 criminal court matters have been heard by video-conference, including 72 guilty pleas. The majority of video proceedings have involved incarcerated defendants at the Lexington County Detention Center, in an effort to expedite and resolve pending jail cases. Among those, Ernest Mack pled guilty via video May 28, to Domestic Violence – 1st degree and was sentenced to seven years incarceration. This case was handled by Assistant Solicitor Kelly Oppenheimer.
Eleventh Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard addressed the efforts of his office to continue with court activity during the pandemic.
“Our staff has worked diligently to resolve pending cases and prepare criminal cases for trial, despite the unprecedented circumstances that we are facing. We will continue to do all that we can to seek justice and protect the community in the process.”