- Special Sections
- Public Notices
The teen charged in the arson of the Lancaster County Courthouse last August won’t be tried by local court officials.
Sixth Circuit Solicitor Doug Barfield said he won’t prosecute Martavious Carter, 17.
Carter has been charged with two counts of arson for fires set at the 180-year-old courthouse, which was still being used as a court facility, and at Barfield’s office across the street.
Barfield said 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett will try the case.
The fires displaced the Lancaster County Clerk of Court’s office, Public Defender Mark Grier and the county’s assistant solicitors.
Since they are victims of the fires, Barfield said local officials won’t try the cases.
Carter is also charged with two counts of kidnapping, four counts of carjacking and five counts each of armed robbery, possession of a pistol during the commission of a violent crime, unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of a pistol by a person under 18 and possession of a pistol by a person convicted of a violent crime in connection with incidents that happened after the fires.
Brackett said the case will be tried in Lancaster.
“We’re stepping into Doug’s shoes for this one case,” Brackett said.
A jury will also be pulled from Lancaster County.
The courthouse burning made local, state and national headlines, but Brackett said no motion has been made by the defense for a change of venue.
“Usually, there’s very little chance of that in South Carolina,” Brackett said.
In the Palmetto State, the court is urged to find an impartial, local jury and if that’s impossible, only then will a change of venue be considered, Brackett said.
Between the fires and the robberies, Carter faces 31 charges.
The robberies happened over several weeks between August and September 2008. The last robbery – on Sept. 18 in the parking lot of Elizabeth Ann’s Interiors on Main Street – involved the kidnapping of a 70-year-old woman, who was shoved into the trunk of her car.
The car was abandoned in a field near Eastside Academy. The woman freed herself from the trunk using a garden spade.
The fires were set on Aug. 4 and 7.
Carter was arrested on Sept. 18, the day of the last robbery.
Authorities charged Carter with the robberies first. Officers have said that Carter confessed to starting the fires.
After Carter was charged, officials with civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network said they would assist in finding Carter an attorney, and would conduct a civil rights investigation to make sure Carter was not railroaded into confessing to the crimes.
No trial date has been set, Brackett said.
His office got the case file over Christmas, and began reviewing it a couple of weeks ago.
“We would like to move forward expeditiously and get the matter resolved as quickly as possible,” Brackett said.
Carter’s attorney, Todd Cline of Charlotte, did not return a phone call on Thursday.
Carter has been in jail since his arrest. He is being held at the Lancaster County Detention Center without bond.
Contact senior reporter Jenny Hartley at email@example.com or at (803) 283-1151