KERSHAW COUNTY, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Chris Scott hopped into the back seat of his friend’s Mercury Mountaineer and tore out of the Exxon station in Bethune, S.C., on May 21, 2013. Scott was with his two friends – all had been drinking, he said.

By the time the driver, Bobby Dylan Freeman, got to the end of the block, his SUV veered right, hopped the curb, and slammed into a power pole at the corner of College and Main Street. Airbags exploded, attempting to offer a softer landing for whoever was thrown into them.

The S.C. Highway Patrol’s case file on the May 21, 2013 crash on Main Street in Bethune, S.C., shows the crash scene of the SUV Chris Scott and two other men were riding in. The crash left Scott paralyzed from the neck down. (Source: SCHP)

The impact flipped the SUV onto its top.

The driver and front passenger climbed out. Chris Scott did not.

Scott couldn’t move. He couldn’t feel – or move – anything on his body past his neck. The impact and rollover snapped two vertebrae, damaging his spinal cord. Medics airlifted the 30-year-old man to a Columbia hospital, where doctors later told Scott he’d never walk again.

First responders were on scene quickly, which included a Kershaw County Sheriff’s deputy who – just seconds before – was dispatched to the Exxon station over reports of men fighting in the parking lot. Before the deputy got to the store, he spotted the overturned Mercury lying on its roof on Main Street.

He didn’t know it then, but he’d found the men dispatchers sent him to find in the first place.

“We were all yelling at each other; we wasn’t fighting,” Scott told Queen City News Chief Investigative Reporter Jody Barr during an interview at Scott’s North Carolina home in May. “There’s a difference between yelling and fighting. We were all yelling, loud, carrying on. Got in a vehicle going down the road, the next thing I know, we hit the curb, and that’s all I remember.”

Within hours of the crash, Troopers charged Bobby Dylan Freeman with felony driving under the influence, a felony in South Carolina with a potential 15-year prison sentence and a fine up to $10,000.

But over the next ten years, Chris Scott said he knew something wasn’t right with the prosecution. It would take him ten years to figure out exactly what that was.


Since 2013, Chris Scott estimated he’s spoken with the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office three times about the pending felony DUI case against Freeman. With each passing year, Scott said he grew even more suspicious that prosecutors weren’t telling him the whole story.

“All the excuses that they kept coming up with, with the attorneys, and they couldn’t find this and that, and all the excuses, and I knew there was something wrong with the case,” Scott said. Then, in April, Scott got a call from the solicitor’s office telling him they were offering Freeman a plea deal.

Chris Scott and his mother, Lisa Mitchell, wait for a breathing treatment to finish during an interview at their Jacksonville, N.C., home on May 24, 2023. Scott was paralyzed in a felony DUI crash in Bethune, S.C., on May 21, 2013. (WJZY Photo/Jody Barr)

Dropping his felony DUI to a misdemeanor.

Assistant Solicitor Donna Green, according to Scott, claimed evidence was lost and mishandled, and there was nothing the state could do to move forward with prosecuting Freeman.

The court set a plea hearing for April 21, and the solicitor’s office arranged for a handicapped transport service to drive Chris Scott and his mother from their Jacksonville, N.C., home to the Kershaw County Courthouse.

At about 9:30 a.m., court staff unlocked the front doors of the courtroom, and Chris Scott wheeled himself into court with his mother in tow. For the first time in nine years and 11 months, Chris Scott and Bobby Freeman were in the same room.

Scott parked his wheelchair behind the prosecutor’s table, about 20 feet away from the chair that held Freeman, who was seated at the defense table.

The problems with the case, according to Assistant Solicitor Donna Green, were many and fatal to prosecuting Freeman on the indicted felony DUI charge. We’ve listed and detailed the technical problems Green highlighted that led to the outcome of this case:


When Trooper Travis Kelley got to Main Street that night, a legal clock began ticking. Kelley’s dash camera video shows the trooper knew that Bobby Dylan Freeman was driving the SUV right away.

“Freeman, he was driving, he said,” a Kershaw County deputy identified as Mark Henderson in the incident report told Kelley. Henderson walked up to Kelley’s patrol car as soon as he arrived.

We filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the patrol’s investigation, including the dash camera recording and all documents contained in the patrol’s investigative file.

This still image taken from S.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Travis Kelley’s dash camera recording is the only image captured of Bobby Dylan Freeman from the scene of the May 21, 2013 crash that paralyzed Chris Scott. Freeman was charged with felony DUI, but prosecutors later offered him a plea agreement to no jail time and the lowest DUI charge under S.C. law. (Source: SCHP)

The dash camera video doesn’t show Kelley’s interaction with Freeman or the third passenger identified in the case file as Robert Diggs. Diggs was complaining of a broken shoulder on scene, but Kelley couldn’t take his statement that night as Kelley found him “grossly intoxicated” at the time.

“I tell you what, for the rest of the night, don’t say anything else. Just sit there,” Kelley told Diggs. Medics eventually took Diggs to the hospital.

Kelley then turned to Freeman to get his side of the story.

“We were coming this way; I was driving. Him and the other guy, Chris, they was arguing at the station and the whole way back – I’m not even sure what they was arguing about – but when we got somewhere about where the end, where that firetruck is at, I end up looking back and I said, ‘Hey, y’all, cut it out,’  and I looked forward, there was a cat, and I swerved over to the side, and I hit the corner over there. And the next thing you know, because I ended up seeing the cat, I swerved over. The next thing you know we’re flipping. That’s all I know,” Freeman told Trooper Kelley.

“Tell me about the alcohol consumption tonight,” Kelley asked Freeman. “That was earlier; I drank a beer at, like, I think it was 5 o’clock today, five or 5:45. Way early today.”

The dash camera audio captured Kelley reading Freeman him the Miranda Warning, explaining it as “a formality” at the time, “Just want you to be advised of your rights before we talk any further in case it goes that way,” Kelley told Freeman.

This picture pulled from the S.C. Highway Patrol’s investigative file shows an opened Busch Ice can lying in the road outside Bobby Dylan Freeman’s overturned SUV on Main Street in Bethune, S.C., on May 21, 2013. (Source: SCHP)

Freeman later admitted to drinking at least a six-pack.

“How many beers you think you’ve had today total?” Kelley asked.

“Total, all day long since I got off work, 5 to 5:45, probably about six. Maybe seven at the most,” Freeman responded.

The video shows Kelley attempted at least one field sobriety test on Freeman, which the trooper said Freeman failed. He couldn’t perform further tests because of the foot and chest injuries Freeman complained of on scene.

Medics then attended to Freeman, and he left the scene in the back of an ambulance. Freeman was never arrested on scene; no trooper or law enforcement officer was with him on his way to the hospital. In fact, phone calls Kelley had with his supervisors captured on his dash camera provided further evidence that Freeman was not under arrest when he left the scene in the ambulance.

Kelley was stuck at the scene, photographing evidence and marking the scene for the patrol’s Multi-Disciplinary Accident Investigation Team headed to Bethune to begin their investigation into the cause of the crash.

Kelley asked first responders on scene if they knew which hospital medics took Freeman. Patrol supervisors eventually tracked Freeman down to a hospital in Hartsville, 25 miles west of the crash site.

The patrol’s investigative records show Sgt. Therese Alford got to the Hartsville Hospital around midnight. Alford asked Freeman to give a blood and urine sample so investigators could measure his blood alcohol concentration, which Freeman refused.

Under state law at the time, investigators could forcefully take a blood sample from a suspect in a felony DUI investigation without a search warrant. That happened in this case, but Assistant Solicitor Donna Green told the judge troopers took the blood sample too late.

Troopers had three hours to draw Freeman’s blood if they wanted to use it as evidence of his impairment.

“According to the statute, that sample is supposed to be taken within three hours of the time of the incident, and according to the paperwork that was submitted with the officer’s report to the MAIT team and what we were able to gather from SLED, that this sample would have been taken outside of the three-hour window,” Green told the judge during the April 21 plea hearing.

However, the state’s implied consent law shows the three-hour clock doesn’t start running at the “time of the incident.” S.C. Code Sec. 56-5-2950 states law enforcement has two hours to perform a breath test “within two hours of the arrest,” and any other testing “must be collected within three hours of the arrest.”

The incident time is listed as 9:20 p.m. in the patrol’s report.

The patrol sent the solicitor’s office a copy of the S.C. Law Enforcement Division’s Urine/Blood Collection Report. The report shows the date and time of an arrest and the exact time a blood sample is taken from a suspect. The form requires a medical professional to sign off on the procedure used to collect the sample and certifies the times each step happened.

Troopers filled out this form at Carolina Pines Hospital in Hartsville, S.C., after arresting Bobby Dylan Freeman for felony driving under the influence, causing great bodily injury. The form shows that a nurse took Freeman’s blood to hand to the patrol four minutes after his arrest. (Source: SCHP)

Freeman’s form shows that a registered nurse took his blood sample four minutes after the patrol arrested him. Kelley’s dash camera recording shows he read Freeman his Miranda warning at 9:56:55, which was still inside the three-hour window of the blood draw.

However, after reading Freeman his Miranda warning, he was not in custody when he left the scene in an ambulance just after 10 p.m.

We asked Fifth Circuit Solicitor Byron Gipson and Assistant Solicitor Green to clarify from what point the prosecutor started counting the three-hour clock or whether Green misinterpreted the three-hour component of the statute.

Neither Gipson nor Green responded to that request for clarification. We asked Trooper Kelley for comment on this report, but he declined to participate.

The patrol’s investigation contained SLED’s blood analysis results, which showed Freeman’s blood alcohol concentration was 0.16%, double the legal limit.


Assistant Solicitor Green, who multiple law enforcement sources told QCN specializes in DUI prosecutions, described her version of what happened that night, including the “altercation” outside the Exxon station seconds before the crash.

“In the in-car video, when Mr. Freeman was Mirandized, there was a statement taken roadside that indicated that he was attempting to stop some type of altercation that was occurring inside the vehicle that caused him to lose control of the vehicle, strike the utility pole and ultimately led to this incident,” Green told S.C. Circuit Court Judge Alison Lee.

Scott said Freeman was arguing with the front seat passenger and that Freeman tried to hit the passenger. Freeman told Troopers on scene that Scott and the passenger were arguing, and he turned around to tell them to stop. When Freeman turned back, he saw a cat dart out in front of them, causing him to swerve and crash into the power pole.

Green said Troopers went back to the Exxon station the next day and found surveillance video from the parking lot. The video was taken as evidence. A 51-page evidence packet the patrol sent the solicitor’s office shows two DVDs submitted as evidence: one was Trooper Travis Kelley’s dash camera; the other was the gas station video.

But Green told the judge the solicitor’s office never saw the second video.

“That information was never provided to the solicitor’s office, I have no evidence that it was provided to the solicitor’s office, that there was at least a clerk and possibly a manager at that store that were interviewed, that was not made a part of the case by that was provided, nor was it provided to the MAIT team. So those witnesses were not identified in any of the reports, that video was not produced on scene.”

S.C. Department of Public Safety Director Robert Woods confirmed the patrol could not find the gas station video and did not have a chain of custody for it.

The head of the S.C. Department of Public Safety confirmed; the video no longer exists.

“Presumably, that disk that we no longer have contained some video evidence from a convenience store that would have solidified the identity of the driver. So obviously, that created a problem for us, pretty, pretty significant,” SCDPS Director Robert Woods told QCN.

Woods was not in charge of SCDPS when the crash happened in 2013. The patrol has since amended its evidence policy, which initially went into effect in 1997.

“But even now, it’s a little bit more specific because in 2018, some specific language was added. That said, ‘Look, with video and audio evidence, you have to ensure – or you shall ensure – that that evidence is preserved in accordance with all other requirements under this policy,” Woods said in the interview.

“We clearly – or – presumably, we had that. It was not properly preserved. We don’t have a chain of custody on it. So clearly, the fact that that can’t be accounted for now is our responsibility,” Woods said.

The prosecutor told the judge not having the surveillance video prevented the state from tracking down witnesses – including first responders on scene that night. However, the patrol turned over records showing a list of every first responder – both law enforcement and fire/rescue.

SCHP Trooper Travis Kelley’s dash camera recording captured audio of him asking a first responder to collect the names and identification numbers of every first responder on scene. An unidentified female agreed to collect those names, and her list was included in the case file the SCHP provided to the solicitor’s office. (Source: SCHP)

“Again, there are several first responders that responded. There’s – at least on the in-car video – a conversation with the officer that you can hear, but you cannot see who the trooper is speaking that indicates that he was in that vicinity responding to some type of altercation that occurred at the store. But he saw the wreck before he ever got to the store and directed his attention to the wreck,” Green told the judge.

Kelley’s report lists the name of the sheriff’s deputy as Mark Henderson, which is contained in the trooper’s incident report on page 44 of the 51-page file marked as “GS Packet” from the documents released to Queen City News by the patrol.

Chris Scott and his mother believe prosecutors made a bigger deal about the impact the surveillance video had on the case than it really had, “It really ain’t important to me,” Scott said. “What does that got to do with him getting in that vehicle at his house that belonged to his daddy, driving intoxicated?”

Scott said the state didn’t need the video to prove who was driving. The dash camera video showed Freeman admitting to driving and crashing the SUV.


Assistant Solicitor Donna Green told the judge the patrol made a major legal mistake in how it handled the blood evidence. Law enforcement is required to maintain a chain of custody with evidence showing who collected it, handled it, when it was handled, and why.

All to ensure evidence isn’t tampered with by the government.

“In addition to the video, from the surveillance – the surveillance video from the convenience store, not being produced. There are other issues regarding the chain of custody in this case,” Green told the judge.

Fifth Circuit Assistant Solicitor Donna Green listed multiple reasons why she believed her office could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Bobby Dylan Freeman committed a felony DUI offense on May 21, 2013. Although Freeman pleaded guilty to DUI first offense and admitted to driving the SUV that paralyzed Chris Scott, Green said she could not prove the felony offense the Kershaw County grand jury indicted Freeman on in 2014. (WJZY Photo/Jody Barr)

Green said the patrol’s chain of custody breaks when troopers took the blood evidence from the patrol’s Central Evidence Facility in Columbia to SLED’s laboratory for analysis. “So there’s a missing chain of custody as to who handled or had anything to do with the blood once it was collected from the officer.”

But the S.C. Supreme Court ruled in the past that simply because the chain of custody was broken isn’t a guarantee the evidence will be suppressed in a criminal trial, according to Columbia attorney Joe McCulloch, who has prosecuted both high-profile DUI and high-profile felony cases for 50 years.

McCulloch was not involved in either the prosecution or in the defense of this Kershaw County case.

Attorney Joe McCulloch said a break in the chain of custody of a piece of evidence doesn’t automatically render the evidence useless without some showing the evidence was compromised in some way. McCulloch said a judge would have to decide whether a break in the chain of custody was significant enough to suppress the evidence. (WJZY Photo/Jody Barr)

“Under South Carolina law, chain of custody is an important piece of materiality to the admissibility of evidence. But our Supreme Court has established what I think is a pretty lax, or flexible standard. If you can put forth most of the chains in the chain of custody, it comes in. I don’t know what deficiencies existed in the chain of custody. But that was clearly an issue here,” McCulloch said.

The Supreme Court ruling required the state to show the chain established a “reasonable and practicable” degree, and if the defense has no proof of a motive or reason to show the government tampered with the evidence, “doesn’t mean suppression on its face,” McCulloch said.

Bobby Dylan Freeman’s defense attorney, public defender Jason Kirincich, did not present any arguments claiming the blood sample was tampered with during the April 21, 2023, plea hearing. Green also made no argument that the blood sample was tampered with during her presentation to Judge Lee.

We asked the patrol in an email follow up after our interview with Director Woods whether Green accurately described the perceived failures of the patrol to maintain the chain of custody in the case. The patrol provided documents showing a transfer of blood from SLED back to the Central Evidence Facility.

The patrol’s electronic evidence form does not show troopers moving the blood from CEF to SLED, something SCDPS disputed.

“We can’t speak to the position of the solicitor’s office and what was communicated in court but do want you to know that we didn’t reveal the same findings,” Biance wrote in a May 22 email to QCN.

Multiple interview requests to the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office to clarify these points was not granted by Solicitor Byron Gipson.


Just one month before Trooper Travis Kelley’s supervisor had a nurse take the blood sample from Bobby Dylan Freeman, the United States Supreme Court handed down a ruling, telling law enforcement nationwide that blanket policies approving warrantless blood draws ran afoul of the Fourth Amendment.

That amendment was designed to protect American citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling, a case titled Missouri v. McNeely, established that law enforcement must get a search warrant – unless specific exigent circumstances exist – to take blood samples in cases like the one against Freeman. At the time, South Carolina’s Implied Consent statute allowed law enforcement to take blood in any felony DUI case without a warrant.

“Our cases have recognized that before the police may conduct a search of a person, they must generally have a warrant. That principle applies to the search here, which involves a physical needle intrusion beneath McNeely’s skin to recover evidence of a crime,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said during the April 17, 2013, reading of the court’s majority opinion. “While it is sometimes reasonable for police officers to conduct warrantless blood tests when officers can obtain a warrant without undermining the search. The Fourth Amendment requires that they do so.”

In McNeely, the state argued because alcohol concentration continuously dissipates in the human body, exigent circumstances always exist in a drunk driving investigation. The court called the assertion “overly broad.”

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 15, 2009, before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

“It is accordingly not the case that exigent circumstance will exist so as to justify a warrantless blood draw in every drunk driving investigation,” Sotomayor said. “In this case, the state of Missouri took an all-or-nothing position. Basing its argument entirely on the contention that the natural dissipation of alcohol in the blood constitutes a per se emergency at every case.”

The court’s ruling came down on April 17, 2013 – exactly 34 days before the crash that paralyzed Chris Scott. The patrol did not tell troopers about the change in the law until June 5, 2013. The delay came because the patrol’s legal team “required additional review and understanding” before the patrol could implement the change across the state.

“Therefore, the Highway Patrol personnel working this initial investigation would not have been advised to the changes in policy at the time of this implied consent blood draw at the hospital,” SCDPS Public Affairs Director Heather Biance told QCN.

“There’s no specific case law in our state that actually addresses the need for a search warrant in a felony DUI because this implied consent statute says they must provide a sample,” Green testified in April. “But, in accordance with McNeely, there’s some conflict into whether or not that statute would actually be upheld. And my understanding is that there has been several challenges; I’m not aware of any rulings from our state Supreme Court that directly address it, but under Missouri versus McNeely, which is a U.S. Supreme Court case, the state would require a search warrant if there was a refusal, even though our state law says they cannot refuse,” Green said.


Chris Scott and his mother, Lisa Mitchell, both feared they’d leave South Carolina with nothing. They knew two things were going against them in this case: the length of time it took prosecutors to call the case and the problems with the evidence.

Problems Scott admitted he didn’t understand before the April 21 hearing in Kershaw County.

Bobby Dylan Freeman looks back at Chris Scott during the April 21, 2023, plea hearing in Kershaw County. Scott was paralyzed in a drinking and driving crash on May 21, 2013 – a crash where Freeman was driving. (WJZY Photo/Jody Barr)

“I just lost everything. There’s no hope,” Scott told QCN in an interview last month from his bed in Jacksonville, NC. “I just didn’t understand how they could lose valuable documents on a case like that, and they just give him a slap on the wrist,” Scott said.

The one thing Scott said he cannot understand: how Bobby Dylan Freeman could be guilty of DUI, yet not felony DUI in the crash that happened while he was drunken driving.

The crash that severed Chris Scott’s spinal cord.

“I didn’t know what to think. They’re the justice system; they’re supposed to do what’s right and what’s fair. And I don’t feel that they did anything right or fair,” Scott said.

Assistant Solicitor Donna Green attempted to explain why she and her bosses agreed to offer Freeman a plea deal to a low-level misdemeanor DUI, “The state felt like there were significant hurdles that would prevent us from reaching reasonable doubt in this case, particularly whether or not the blood would have been admissible based on the way that our implied consent law’s written, as well as being outside of the three-hour window that the law requires samples to be collected in. And then, of course, the missing evidence from the witnesses that were on scene immediately prior would have been on scene at the time of the wreck because this is in close proximity to where the store was located, and that information not being included in the case jacket that was submitted to the state,” Green said during the hearing.

The MAIT investigation contained this drawing of the crash scene on Main Street in Bethune. The drawing shows the 35 miles per hour posted speed limit just before the crash site. MAIT’s report shows Freeman was running 45 miles an hour at impact. (Source: SCHP)

Green acknowledged Freeman was committing a crime that contributed to the crash. The MAIT report shows Freeman was running 45 miles an hour in a posted 35 miles an hour zone when he jumped the curb and slammed into the power pole.

Neither the trooper’s statements of smelling alcohol, the MAIT team finding at least one beer car outside the overturned SUV, or the single field sobriety test was enough to “proximate “cause” that would have subjected Freeman to the felony prosecution.

“When we get to the proximate cause, the act or the act related to the act and due care, we believe that there’s insufficient evidence to show that Mr. Freeman was doing an act that was forbidden by law or failing to comply with the law immediately prior to that was a proximate cause of this wreck. That was a hurdle that we were always going to have a struggle to meet because of the conflicting information in the file,” Green said.

Chris Scott had a chance to speak to the judge, pleading with the court to hold Freeman accountable for what happened that night.

“I just don’t understand how can they lose records like that in a case like this. Due to this accident, it’s took a toll on my life, and I can’t do anything for myself anymore,” Scott told Judge Alison Lee. “I wasn’t even able to hold my son when he was born. Missed a lot of birthdays. Even when my daddy passed away, I wasn’t able to make it to his funeral because it was so far away, I couldn’t make that kind of trip to Florida.”

Scott also told the judge he was once sitting right where Freeman was sitting in that hearing. In 2008, Scott said he was drinking and driving in Pensacola, Fla., and crashed. The crash broke a woman’s leg. Scott was sentenced to five years in state prison and ended up serving two years. He was ordered to pay a $1,500 fine and serve three years’ probation.

This was Chris Scott’s mugshot provided by the Florida Department of Corrections from his 2008 incarceration on the felony DUI charge out of Pensacola, FL. Scott told the judge during the April 2023 plea hearing for Bobby Dylan Freeman that he paid a more severe price for his crime than Freeman would pay for his. (Source: FDC)

Freeman’s attorney asked the judge to not sentence his client to a jail sentence, laying out the impacts from a job-related head injury he said Freeman suffered in a fall at his job following the 2013 DUI crash. The head injury, according to the attorney, required constant medial attention and led to a condition where Freeman frequently suffers from seizures.

“We just ask that there be no active jail time and not to be dramatic, but if he is required to go to jail, he will not receive the type of care that he needs, and nobody would want this, but it very well could be a death sentence,” Freeman’s public defender, Jason Kirincich told the judge.

Kirincich admitted during the hearing his client knew how close he was to serving prison time in this case.

“Mr. Freeman and I’ve had frank discussions about this, that if the Highway Patrol had perfected its case, he would be looking at prison time, your honor, and he understands that completely,” Kirincich told Judge Lee.

Jason Kirincich told Judge Alison Lee that if she sentenced Bobby Dylan Freeman to an active jail sentence, it could mean death for his client because of Freeman’s medical needs. Meanwhile, Chris Scott’s mother holds a water bottle to her paralyzed son’s mouth for him to take a drink during this April 21, 2023, plea hearing in Camden, S.C. (WJZY Photo/Jody Barr)

Judge Lee told both sides the problems with the evidence in the case are “…one of the real tragedies” with the case. “As I stated earlier, there is no one who wins in this particular case because both the defendant and the victim, Mr. Scott, have lifelong injuries that will stay with them for which there are no cures,” Lee said before sentencing Freeman.

Lee’s sentence included no jail time, no fine, and to perform 12 hours of community service. The community service was for Freeman to speak at Mothers Against Drunk Drivers or Students Against Drunk Drivers events. He must complete the 12 hours by November unless Kirincich requests an extension of time.

As soon as Lee announced the 12 hours of community service, Scott turned his wheelchair around and rolled back toward the double doors leading out of the courtroom.

Bobby Dylan Freeman walked out of the Kershaw County Courthouse on April 21 a free man.

“They more or less told him, ‘Hey, you’re free to go, go do it again,’ more or less, ‘Hey, come on up here in South Carolina, commit a crime, and we’re gonna slap you on the hand and let you go. Even if you hurt somebody, it doesn’t matter. I guess if he killed somebody, it wouldn’t have mattered, either,” Lisa Mitchell told QCN in an interview at her son’s bedside.

Chris Scott and his mother, Lisa Mitchell, leave the courtroom as soon as the judge hands down a community service sentence for Bobby Dylan Freeman (seated) during this April 21, 2023, plea hearing at the Kershaw County Courthouse. (WJZY Photo/Jody Barr)

“They didn’t do their job. They could have did a little better job than what they’ve done,” Scott said.

“Do you think that some part of this that the court system may have looked and said, ‘Well, you know, Christopher Scott made a decision, he knew the guy was drinking, to get in this car, he should share in this punishment. What do you say people would say that,” Barr asked Scott. “I mean, they would call this punishment for getting in the vehicle with somebody drinking?”

“For me getting in a vehicle with somebody drinking, this is my punishment for being paralyzed for the rest of my life, and he still gets to walk free? What is his punishment,” Scott responded.  


On May 17, we emailed Fifth Circuit Solicitor Byron Gipson, asking him to schedule an interview with us. Gipson never responded. On May 22, we emailed the solicitor’s office again, asking for someone to at least acknowledge the request.

Tammie Fields, Gipson’s “Special Assistant,” responded to say she’d follow up with the solicitor about our request.

Over the course of the next several days, we emailed a string of requests for the solicitor’s office to clarify and explain several points raised in Assistant Solicitor Donna Green’s testimony during Bobby Dylan Freeman’s plea hearing.

Gipson never responded to any of our emails. Instead, on May 25, Fields sent a two-paragraph statement signed off by Solicitor Gipson. The statement did not answer our main question for the solicitor’s office: what took ten years to get this case into a courtroom?

The solicitor said he ordered an “expedited verbatim transcription” of Freeman’s plea hearing and expected the court reporter to have it ready by May 31. “After my office has received and reviewed the completed court record, we will review your questions and offer an appropriate response,” Gipson wrote.

Gipson has not responded as of this report published June 7, 2023.

We extended another offer to Gipson and Green to participate in an interview before we conducted an unscheduled interview with them wherever we found them. Gipson, Green, and Fields ignored those messages.

Instead of agreeing to an interview, Fifth Circuit Solicitor Byron Gipson sent this statement in response to Queen City News. Gipson never provided any response to his review of the transcript from the April 21, 2023 plea hearing, where his office offered Bobby Dylan Freeman a deal to reduce his felony DUI charge to a DUI first-offense misdemeanor with no jail time. (Source: Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office)

Last week, we went to the Kershaw County Courthouse to find Assistant Solicitor Donna Green. Green had not shown up by the time the courthouse opened, but her boss, Deputy Solicitor Curtis Pauling, arrived around 8:30 a.m.

Pauling joined the solicitor’s office nine years ago and later took over the solicitor’s office in Kershaw County. Pauling was also standing by Green during Freeman’s plea hearing and was in the room when Green told Chris Scott and his mother about the plea agreement before the hearing started on April 21.

We went to the solicitor’s office on the third floor of the courthouse and asked for Pauling. A few minutes later, Pauling walked out of the office, where we attempted to interview him in the courthouse hallway.

Here’s a transcript of that exchange:

BARR: “Mr. Pauling, Jody Barr.”

PAULING: “Yes, sir.”

BARR: “I’ve been trying to get a hold of Mrs. Green and the main office.”

PAULING: “Okay, so – go ahead.”

BARR: “I just want to ask you what took ten years –”

PAULING: “Ok, let me stop you. We’re not going to do any interviews, as I’ve instructed. The statement that we gave last week is the statement that you have. So I’ve been instructed we’re not doing interviews; Mrs. Green’s not going to do an interview.”

BARR: “What took ten years for this case to come before a judge?”

PAULING: “That’s all I can tell you right now.”

BARR: “You don’t think you owe the public an explanation as to what happened here? That’s a long time.”

Fifth Circuit Deputy Solicitor Curtis Pauling would not explain the decade-long delay in the Bobby Dylan Freeman prosecution during this encounter outside his Kershaw County Courthouse office on May 30, 2023. Pauling’s boss, Solicitor Byron Gipson would not schedule an interview in the days before this encounter. (WJZY Photo/Ryan Miloff)

PAULING: “We gave you a statement. That’s all I can tell you right now. Okay?”

BARR: “And nothing more?”

PAULING: “Not other than the statement that was given to you last week.”

BARR: “But the statement doesn’t address that question.”

PAULING: “We’re not doing interviews.”

BARR: “So that’s it?”

PAULING: “That’s it.”

BARR: “So Mr. Scott doesn’t deserve to know? The public doesn’t deserve to know?”

PAULING: “That’s it.”

BARR: “And that’s good enough with you guys? We’re here because we have a question about what took so long; you’ve been here nine years in the circuit.”

PAULING: “That’s it.”

Pauling then walked back into the solicitor’s office and closed the door. We have not received any further communication from the solicitor’s office since our unscheduled interview on May 30.

Lisa Mitchell holds a plastic container filled with the daily medications she gives her son for conditions caused by his paralysis. Mitchell compared her full-time care of her son to caring for an infant. Chris Scott isn’t able to do anything for himself. (WJZY Photo/Jody Barr)

Scott and his mother said they still believe the solicitor’s office gave up on the case and could have done more to hold Bobby Dylan Freeman accountable, “There’s something that can be done. I guess you just don’t want to do it,” Scott said during the May interview with QCN at his home.

“You want to be in that office; you want to be a prosecuting attorney. Well, do your job. This job was not done right,” Lisa Mitchell said.

Scott said he lost all confidence in the justice system when he steered his wheelchair out of that Kershaw County Courtroom on April 21, “All I can say is I hope to God it don’t happen to somebody else that walks out that courtroom scot-free like Bobby Dylan did. I just hope it don’t happen to somebody else, the same way it did to me.”