Judge sentences Elder for assaulting SMH nurse

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By Chris Sardelli

 Christopher Sardelli


A Lancaster man was sentenced to prison earlier this month, more than a year after his arrest for assaulting a nurse at Springs Memorial Hospital. 

Dwight Thomas Elder Jr., 36, 2119 W. Meeting St., was sentenced May 5 to four years in the S.C. Department of Corrections after he pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and battery in Lancaster County General Sessions Court, according to a press release from the office of Sixth Circuit Solicitor Doug Barfield.

Circuit Court Judge Edward Miller presided over the sentencing. 

Elder was originally charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature and possession of a knife during a violent crime for punching and threatening a nurse inside the hospital’s emergency department in February 2013. 

He pleaded guilty earlier this month, though, to a lesser charge of first-degree assault and battery, the release said. 

He was represented by Assistant Public Defender Mark Grier and the case was prosecuted by Assistant Sixth Circuit Solicitor Randy Newman, Jr.   

According to a Lancaster Police Department incident report, officers responded at about 2:11 p.m. on Feb. 18, 2013, to an assault at Springs Memorial Hospital, at 800 W. Meeting St. They were met at the emergency room entrance by a nurse holding a kitchen knife in a clear bag. 

The nurse told officers the knife was taken from Elder by security guards only minutes before, the report said.   

Police spoke with the victim, a 49-year-old nurse, who was being treated for her injury and had an ice pack on her left eye. 

The woman said a triage nurse had called her at about 2 p.m. and said Elder was in the waiting room wanting to speak with her. 

She told officers Elder had been violent in the past, so she asked him to speak with her near the security desk, the report said. 

She said Elder was upset with hospital staff about a previous visit and she was trying to explain hospital procedures to him when, without warning, he punched her in the left eye, the report said. 

“(The victim) stated that she fell to the floor and the next thing she remembered was when the hospital staff and security helped her up,” an officer wrote in the report. 

The victim had bruising and swelling to her left eye, as well as a cut under the eye, the report said.

Officers received statements from nine people who witnessed the assault, including hospital staff, security personnel and several patients. 

The witnesses reported seeing the nurse speak with Elder by the security desk before he struck the victim on the left side of her face, the report said. Security guards stepped in between them and Elder then pulled a knife from his pants, the report said. 

“Elder made several statements that he had ‘came to kill the (expletive), but decided to punch her instead,’” an officer wrote in the report. 

The guards took the knife from Elder and then restrained him.

An officer reviewed surveillance footage from the hospital and saw Elder punch the nurse, the report said.

Elder’s bond was denied and he was jailed at the Lancaster County Detention Center, according to Lancaster Municipal Court records. 

The sentencing

Newman said May 16 that Elder was the only person involved in the assault on the nurse.

“He was found to have a weapon on him, which is why he at first received a high and aggravated charge. But what happened is he punched a nurse in the face and the police later found out he had a knife,” Newman said. “It wasn’t necessarily a high and aggravated crime because he didn’t use the weapon, so the charge dropped to assault and battery first-degree.”

Newman said Elder was originally sentenced to 10 years in jail, though his sentence was then suspended to 4 years, followed by 5 years of probation.

Elder was also a defendant in several more criminal cases dating back to 2002 in the Sixth Judicial Circuit, which covers Lancaster County, per the S.C. Judicial Department online database. 

Those charges, arrest dates and sentencing include:

u Malicious injury to property, Jan. 2002, found guilty and sentenced to 30 days in jail or $500

u Disturbing the peace, Feb. 2002, found guilty and sentenced to 30 days in jail

u Malicious injury to property and assault and battery, Dec. 2004, found guilty and sentenced to at least 30 days in jail

u First-degree assault and battery, Nov. 2012, sentenced to time served


Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416