COLUMBIA, SC — A criminal trial expected to be closely watched by law enforcement and gun owners around South Carolina opens Monday in federal court in Columbia.
At issue: whether Joel Robinson, 32, is guilty of a crime for shootinga DEA agent in the first few seconds of a surprise federal law enforcement raid last October at his Orangeburg house.
Agents expected to find a cache of drugs, but a search of the premises found nothing but a small amount of marijuana for recreational use, according to legal records in the case.
Robinson is expected to claim self-defense, saying he did what any citizen would have in assuming he was the target of a home invasion – grabbing a gun and firing a half-dozen shots in the direction of those he assumed were home invaders.
But the person struck by a Robinson bullet was DEA agent Barry Wilson, one of more than a dozen law officers surrounding the house. The bullet broke bones in Wilson’s right elbow and forearm. His recovery likely will take more than a year and he is expected to lose some use of that arm, according to testimony in a pretrial hearing.
During the trial, the prosecution is expected to claim that law officers on the scene announced themselves loudly, initiated flashing blue lights and sirens as they broke a side window in the house, and that, in any case, it is against the law to shoot a federal law officer in the performance of his official duties.
An indictment in the case charges Robinson with being in a drug manufacturing conspiracy in South Carolina and Georgia with two other men. Robinson is also charged with assaulting individuals executing a search warrant and using a firearm during a drug trafficking crime.
According to the indictment, chemicals to manufacture an illegal drug allegedly were transported from the Atlanta area to Robinson’s house in Orangeburg, and Robinson and the other men then transported the chemicals to other places.
The gun Robinson fired was a .45 caliber Taurus handgun with a laser sight, according to the indictment.
In addition to seeking a guilty finding from the jury, federal prosecutors also want Robinson to forfeit his house and four pistols, four rifles and two shotguns found at his house.
Robinson, who is being held at the Lexington County Detention Center, has hired two experienced criminal defense lawyers, Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin, both of Columbia, to defend him.
Federal prosecutors are out of the Northern District of Georgia, where the case originated. They include Michael Herskowitz, Michael Brown and Jennifer Whitfield.
Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/2015/02/06/3973817_man-to-claim-self-defense-for.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy