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Judge reduces bond for man facing felony DUI charge

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By Jenny Arnold

Judge Brooks Goldsmith lowered the bond for a man charged with the drunk-driving related death of his girlfriend last year.

Robert Whisonant is charged with felony driving under the influence involving death and two counts of felony DUI resulting in great bodily injury.

Sixth Circuit Solicitor Doug Barfield said he didn’t think the bond needed to be reduced during a hearing Friday morning.

“He’s got a pretty reasonable bond for the nature of the charges,” Barfield said.

But Goldsmith lowered Whisonant’s bond from $40,000 to $20,000.

Mary Beth Johnson, who lived in Kershaw, died in February 2008 after the 1986 Buick station wagon she was riding in crashed head-on with another car on S.C. 341.

Authorities say Whisonant was driving the station wagon and had been drinking before the crash.

The crash happened about 2 miles south of Kershaw.

Johnson, 43, a front seat passenger in the Buick, was flown to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, where she died early the next morning.

According to the Highway Patrol, Whisonant pulled out of a parking lot onto the southbound side of S.C. 341, crossed the center line and crashed into the Honda, which was traveling northbound.

Seven people were involved in the two-vehicle crash and were taken to different hospitals in the region, according to the Highway Patrol.

Whisonant has been in jail since shortly after the crash.

His bond was originally set at $150,000, and lowered to $40,000.

Barfield said resolving the case in court has been delayed because the case file was destroyed in a fire at his office last August.

Assistant Public Defender Mark Grier said Whisonant doesn’t have the means to come up with $40,000.

“That ($20,000) is still substantial to him,” Grier said.

Contact senior reporter Jenny Arnold jhartley@thelancasternews.com at 283-1151