Judge accepts NC lawmaker's guilty plea on assault charge

Senator Soles in Court Thursday, Source: Kristy Ondo
Senator Soles in Court Thursday, Source: Kristy Ondo
Kyle Blackburn (Source: Columbus Co. Sheriff's Office)
Kyle Blackburn (Source: Columbus Co. Sheriff's Office)
R.C. Soles' home in Tabor City
R.C. Soles' home in Tabor City

Reported by Kristy Ondo – bio |email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

WHITEVILLE, NC (WECT) – A judge accepted a guilty plea entered by North Carolina's longest-serving legislator Thursday afternoon.

R.C. Soles entered a guilty plea for A1 misdemeanor assault with deadly weapon in court, just before 2:15.

Soles turned himself into authorities in January after being indicted by a Grand Jury.  The Columbus County Democrat admitted to shooting 22-year-old Kyle Blackburn in the leg at the senator's home in Tabor City last August.

The 75-year-old claims he shot Blackburn in self defense after Blackburn and 23-year-old Billie Wright kicked at his door.  Soles faced charges of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.  Blackburn has since recovered from the shooting.

During the trial, the state used a 40-minute surveillance tape taken at Soles' home during the time of the shooting as evidence.  The state said Blackburn, Wright, and a woman spent more than an hour trespassing on the senator's property, drinking alcohol before kicking the door.

Soles' attorney, Joe Chesire, said the state gave a fair account of what happened the night of the shooting, and that the senator wanted to take responsibility for his actions.  He will pay more than $1,000 in court costs.

"[I'm]very glad to have it behind me as much as it is," said Soles, fighting back tears.  "It happened, I thought I was in the right. Sometimes you make bad judgements."

According to Chesire, the outcome of the hearing will not affect Soles' political or lawyer careers.  He says pleading guilty was the best outcome for all parties involved.

"I was convinced if we went to trial we could win," said Soles.  "It was a matter of what it would do to myself."

According to police reports, Blackburn had tried to kick in the senator's door prior to this incident.  The young man was charged with attempted breaking and entering in September 2008.

The senator's hearing has been postponed twice because of scheduling conflicts with Soles' attorney.

After 42 years in office, Soles announced in December he would not seek re-election, appearing torn with his decision.

"My gut feeling says go to the board of elections and sign up, but I don't think I'll do that," said Soles with a smile.

It seems like Senator Soles will end his legislative career with bitter-sweet feelings.  A long saga is now over without a court trial, but personal trials have taken their toll.

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