BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett A. Wilson says the Berkeley County Grand Jury has indicted former Berkeley County Sheriff Wayne Dewitt on three charges.
The indictments are for driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident and failure to stop for blue light.
Dewitt originally was ticketed by the South Carolina Highway Patrol for leaving the scene of an accident resulting in personal injury.
Wilson says after a review of statements made at the scene of the accident on the morning of December 28, 2014, the Berkeley County EMS Patient Care Report, the victim's hospital discharge information and after consulting with the victim and the arresting Highway Patrol officer, all agreed that a charge for Leaving the Scene of an Accident resulting in damage to an attended vehicle best fit the facts and evidence in this case.
According to Wilson, the change in the charge does not affect the cumulative penalty exposure Mr. Dewitt faces.
"As a lawyer and prosecutor, I am subject to special rules which limit my ability to make public comments about pending cases and defendants in criminal matters," Wilson said in a statement."For these reasons, my office will not be commenting on the merits of the charges against Mr. Dewitt. The Rules also require that I remind the public that Mr. Dewitt is presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty."
The potential penalties for the charges DeWitt faces are as follows:
• Driving Under the Influence: $400 or not less than 48 hours nor more than 30 days; in lieu of the 48 hour minimum imprisonment, the court may provide for 48 hours of public service employment;
• Leaving the Scene of an Accident: not more than 1 year or fined not less than $100 nor more than $5,000, or both; and
• Failure to Stop for Blue Light: not less than $500 or 90 days to 3 years.
DeWitt resigned from office last week and apologized for his arrest in connection to the hit-and-run, and released the following statement:
In my recent public statement I apologized for my well-publicized conduct of December 28, 2014. I reiterate how sorry I am for my actions and the poor choices I made.
Because of the magnitude of the decision and its implications I have taken some time to honestly assess the situation with the singular goal of "doing what is right and what is honorable". I have done much private soul searching.
In the end, I know and understand the entire situation is the product of my own failures. As an elected official, as Sheriff and as a person, I recognize that I must be held accountable. I have concluded that in light of the cloud on the Office of Sheriff of Berkeley County resulting from my conduct on December 28th, I can no longer be an effective public servant regardless of how the legal process unfolds.
I am convinced that the best way to begin to restore the public trust is for me to resign from the Office of Sheriff of Berkeley County. By letters to the appropriate officials I am tendering my resignation effective immediately.
I want to thank the citizens of Berkeley County for the honor of serving you as your Sheriff for many years.
A special election will be held in April to determine who will be named Berkeley County sheriff.