‘She’s trying to help me out’: DUI suspect calls released, sheriff denies favoritism

Live 5 News sued Charleston County Sheriff’s Office when it initially refused to release calls
Published: Aug. 4, 2023 at 4:00 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 5, 2023 at 5:09 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office met a court-imposed deadline to turn over jailhouse calls involving a suspect in a deadly crash that killed a newlywed bride on Folly Beach.

Jamie Komoroski, 25, is charged with three counts of felony DUI causing bodily injury or death and reckless homicide after the April 28 crash. Authorities say Komoroski rear-ended a golf cart with four occupants around 10 p.m. in the 1200 block of E. Ashley Ave. One passenger, Samantha Miller, who had just gotten married earlier in the evening, died in the crash. Her groom, Aric Hutchinson and two of Hutchinson’s family members were injured in the crash. The family members were taking the newlywed couple back to their rental home when they were struck, a report states.

The video and phone calls from the jail show Komoroski talking with family, her boyfriend and friends. In them, she discusses many things including a visit from Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano.

“She’s trying to help me out,” Komoroski says about a visit with Graziano. “She’s like, ‘I don’t want you in here, you should be with your family,’ so that’s like really good. So I can hopefully be home sooner.”

In emails to people concerned about Graziano showing favoritism, Graziano responded by saying, “No special treatment has occurred and unfortunately, when high-profile prisoners in our facility have mental health concerns, the reality is that it is our responsibility to ensure proper care for these people no matter who they are.”

The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office released the following statement:

Our staff, whether a detention deputy or the sheriff, will always work to ensure our jail residents are properly and appropriately cared for while they’re in our facility. This includes taking steps to ensure they do not harm themselves. Jamie Lee Komoroski is no exception. When family members reach out in concern for the well-being of their loved one, regardless of the charges against them, we do everything within our power to ensure they are safe. It is not unusual for accommodations to be made beyond our normal video visitation for family members, as long as there is an appropriate level of staffing to make it happen.

Sheriff Graziano is in the agency’s detention centers often, and it is also not unusual for her to visit jail residents. Komoroski is not an exception, and the sheriff met with her one time and had brief in-person contact with her a second time to introduce her to CCSO Mental Health Director William Malcolm, whose responsibility involves visiting Detention Center residents to ensure various needs are met.

The sheriff does not have a special relationship with Komoroski’s attorney; it is a professional relationship. What has been surmised by some from the Komoroskis’ video calls is not accurate in regard to any sort of special treatment. Some may think the situation is special, but it is not.

Live 5 also received badge swipes that the sheriff made during the time Komoroski has been in jail. Those documents show Graziano only visited with Komoroski twice, and not at all since May. The Sheriff’s Office says Graziano offered to set up a visit with the mental health director during their first encounter and the second interaction was escorting the director to Komoroski’s room before leaving.

In the jail calls, Komoroski says she’s not in the regular part of the jail because of the news.

In talking about Graziano, Komoroski tells her boyfriend, “That lady was so nice. Something similar happened to someone she knew personally so she, like, related to the story and was just really relating to me. She just seems really sincere and like she really wants to help. I am really happy.”

Komoroski adds that Graziano is the one who got her parents to visit her in person through the glass.

The jail’s website states the facility uses video visitation to minimize the potential introduction of contraband during the visitation process and to reduce resident movement. Personal visitation is only online and only attorneys can visit in person, the site states.

Calls include several between Komoroski and her father. She claims she’s nervous about how things are going to end up.

“I still don’t know why this had to happen to me,” she said.

“Bad things happen to good people,” her father said. “It’s just something that happened to you and we are going to deal with this the best we can. It’s life-altering. You are going to experience stuff you never thought of, but when it is all over and done with, you will be a better person because you will have a better understanding of what it’s like on the other side of the coin.”

After a report of their video and phone calls, Komoroski’s father tells her she cannot talk on video calls or on the phone about anything to do with the case.

“They’re just using it against you,” Komoroski’s father says.

In a separate video, Komoroski says she’s scared that the media is so involved in the case. Her father’s response is that it sells newspapers.

“But that isn’t going to help me,” she says. “Like everyone is going to be so mean to me.”

At the time of the crash, Komoroski was driving 65 mph, according to police. The speed limit across the island is 25 mph.

A blood toxicology report shows that Komoroski’s blood alcohol level was 0.261 the night of the crash. That is more than three times the legal limit in South Carolina.

Immediately after the crash, officers asked Komoroski what happened to which she replied, “I was driving, and then all the sudden something hit me,” the report reads.

Also, in the report, multiple witness recall seeing Komoroski “dazed and confused.” At the scene, she kept asking for her boyfriend and telling the witnesses she was on her way home, the report states.

Once she saw the victims on the ground, Komoroski started screaming and asking what happened, witnesses say.

In Komoroski’s arrest affidavit, officers claim they could smell alcohol on her breath. She told officers she had a beer and a drink with tequila about an hour before the crash, the affidavit states. When asked how she felt on a scale of one to ten, with one being completely sober and ten being the most impaired, she responded that she was at an eight, the affidavit states. Komoroski was then asked to complete a field sobriety test but she refused, the affidavit states. However, her blood was sampled for the toxicology report.

Hutchinson filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Komoroski on May 17.

In logs of calls made by Komoroski since she has been in jail, records show she attempted to make 271 calls during her first 23 days in jail, from April 29 to May 21. Of those calls, only 128 were completed. Call logs show the calls averaged about 10 minutes in length.

The sheriff’s office also sent their tablet policy for inmates. Inmates are issued tablets at dress out, and there are time limits and restrictions on what time of day when the tablets can be used.

Live 5 News sued the sheriff’s office when it refused to release the materials after already having released them to The Post and Courier. The court ruled the sheriff’s office violated the state’s Freedom of Information Act and retired South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal issued an order Tuesday that the materials be turned over within three business days.

Lawyers representing Komoroski filed a motion for bond claiming she is not a threat to the community or a flight risk on May 19. They said the circumstances around the incident are heartbreaking, but the tragedy doesn’t make her a flight risk or a danger to the community.

A circuit court judge, Michael Nettles, denied bond for Komoroski on August 1 saying he felt Komoroski was a flight risk. In denying bond, Nettles set conditions that the state must be ready to try the case by March 2024.

Samantha Miller’s mother, Lisa Miller; and sister, Mandi Jenkins, released the following statement:

We are so happy with the results of the judge’s call for the bond hearing on Tuesday. I don’t know if any of these calls/transcripts were actually in play of the judge’s decision. It hurts, but Sam is who she is, despite the fact she isn’t here, and Jamie is who she is.