Man accused of N. Chas murder arrested multiple times in multiple counties while out on bond
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A Live 5 Investigation reveals a broken bond system and holes in communication allowed a man accused of murdering a father of five to be arrested multiple times in multiple counties across South Carolina without being put back behind bars.
Kenneth Siguenza is accused of shooting and killing 33-year-old Eston Shoaf in North Charleston on December 23, 2018, a police affidavit shows. The shooting happened after Shoaf was driving down Alton Street and stopped for a tractor blocking the road. Shoaf got out of his truck and argued with Siguenza, who was on the tractor, trying to get him to move, according to police. Siguenza then shot Shoaf, police say.
“The doctor from the ER said to turn around, and I turned around and he pointed on my back exactly where my son had been shot,” Deborah Shoaf Dawsey, Shoaf’s mother, says. “We’ve tried to learn how to live beyond it, and it’s not easy.”
Siguenza was later arrested in March of 2019. He later bonded out of jail in 2020. A judge ordered him to wear a GPS monitor and be on strict house arrest, only leaving for certain reasons like work or doctor’s appointments.
Court documents, however, show Siguenza wasn’t just leaving for those things.
First, in January of 2022, he was arrested for shoplifting and resisting arrest in Horry County. Then five months later, he was arrested for three counts of violent burglary and having a stolen car in Dorchester County. Not even a year after that, he was arrested for being a habitual traffic offender in Berkeley County.
In a motion filed in April of 2022, attorneys representing Siguenza argue he shot Shoaf in self-defense because he believed Shoaf was going back to his car to get a gun.
“Under South Carolina law, somebody who is attacked and they’re at their job or in a vehicle –and he was in a vehicle at his job—somebody who’s attacked is entitled to use deadly force, and the law says they’re immune from prosecution,” Siguenza’s attorney Chris Adams says. “Mr. Siguenza should have never been charged.”
The defense also filed a motion asserting Siguenza’s right to a speedy trial in September of 2019. The case has still not gone to trial.
“Ken Siguenza fits under the stand your ground law completely,” Adams says. “He should have, according to South Carolina law, immunity from prosecution. He’s not been afforded that by the police department. They chose not to give that to him, and so he’s now dealing with four years of bond, four years of lost employment, four years of his family having to move around from eviction to eviction. It’s a very hard thing when someone has to defend themselves from a predator when they’re at work.”
While Shoaf’s family also anxiously awaits trial, they say they wonder what has gone wrong in the years since the murder.
“When do we get our justice?” Shoaf’s stepfather, Robert Dawsey Sr., says. “The system is broken.”
Dawsey blames bond companies for allowing Siguenza to keep reoffending. In South Carolina, these companies keep track of defendants’ locations and make sure they follow their bond conditions. Bond companies companies, however, also make money off each ankle monitor, so turning in a defendant means the company loses money.
“The bondsmen having authority over the GPS tracking and everything. It’s not to their advantage to let you know that this person is off the rim,” Dawsey says.
Communication—or lack thereof— between counties and judicial circuits is why Shoaf Dawsey believes her son’s alleged murderer was allowed to traipse around the state for so long, even after multiple arrests.
“Why don’t they know he has a pending murder charge in Charleston County?” she asks.
Solicitor David Pascoe’s circuit includes Dorchester County, where Siguenza was arrested and released after Shoaf’s murder.
“Mr. Siguenza, of course, is presumed innocent until proven guilty of all of his charges, but just looking at him procedurally, I think he’s a wonderful example of why we need to have a prosecutor to public defender every bond hearing,” Pascoe says.
It can be a week or more after an arrest before prosecutors get a file on a defendant, according to Pascoe, meaning that defendant likely already went before a judge and is back on the streets before a solicitor looks at the case.
“It’s time for counties to start ponying up more funding to solicitors’ offices so we can send prosecutors and public defenders to the bond settings,” he says.
Having those attorneys in bond hearings would have prevented Siguenza from being released on bond after his arrest in Dorchester County, according to Pascoe.
“It never should have been set by a magistrate because we would have told them that, according to law, that bond should have been set by a circuit court judge,” Pascoe says.
Sometimes defendants’ charges also don’t show up in the nationwide database that tracks criminal history, the National Crime Information Center, Pascoe says, including some of Siguenza’s charges.
“[The] Dorchester County burglary second violent charges for whatever reason aren’t even on his rap sheet,” he says.
It’s up to prosecutors to communicate with each other about their defendants, according to Pascoe.
“The ninth circuit probably has close to 20,000 pending cases. Combined, we have maybe 25 and 30, probably 30,000 pending cases, but generally we [communicate] by word of mouth, email,” he says.
But communication somehow faltered here, as Siguenza was able to get arrested multiple times in multiple counties over the span of a year and a half before prosecutors filed to have his bond revoked.
While only took a judge a few days in Dorchester County to revoke Siguenza’s bond, it took three months for him to even go in front of a judge in Charleston County.
“Our chief administrative judge takes bond revocation hearings very seriously,” Pascoe says. “In the first circuit, I just think that we have a lot more luck with our judges in getting those motions heard than [Solicitor Scarlett Wilson] has in the Ninth Circuit.”
As the months trudged on after Siguenza was first let out on bond in 2020, Dawsey mourned her son. She went to court hearings and talked with prosecutors, advocating for his case.
Most recently, she stood in a courtroom in July, her voice shaking.
“I’m afraid for my girls,” she told the judge.
Judge Deadra Jefferson revoked Siguenza’s bond after that hearing, so he’ll stay behind bars ahead of trial.
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