Suspect in 2008 Bluffton beating sentenced to 6 years

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Suspect in 2008 Bluffton beating sentenced to 6 years

Published Tuesday, August 16, 2011   |  456 Words  |  

The man who pleaded guilty in 2009 for his part in the beating of two Bluffton men in exchange for his testimony against two other teens charged in the case has been sentenced to six years in prison.

It is the final chapter of criminal proceedings in a crime that put Brian Lanese in the hospital for a month and resulted in the acquittal of the two teens that Kuwan Fields testified against.

Fields' deal with prosecutors was that he serve no more than six years in prison. However, when he took the stand against Harry C. Battle and Theophilus D. Hamilton last August, his testimony was deemed unreliable.

Defense lawyers suggested that Fields, in a recorded phone conversation from the county jail, indicated another person who might have been involved in the crime. The prosecution was caught off-guard by the revelation. The judge said Fields' testimony was inconsistent and unbelievable. Battle and Hamilton were found not guilty.

The 14th Judicial Circuit Solicitor's Office argued during Fields' sentencing hearing July 28 that his plea deal should be revoked because his testimony was not credible. Prosecutors sought a longer sentence for the second-degree burglary charge he pleaded guilty to.

Judge Thomas Cooper, however, disagreed. He said the call from jail and Fields' testimony during Battle and Hamilton's trial were ambiguous but were insufficient to prove he violated his plea agreement, according to the Solicitor's Office.

Fields, 21, has served nearly three years in the Beaufort County Detention Center since his November 2008 arrest in connection with the attack on Lanese and Jeffery Wooten, and he will be given credit for time served.

Lanese and Wooten were jumped Oct. 30, 2008, while they grilled steaks in Lanese's backyard in Bluffton's Windy Lakes neighborhood. The beating nearly killed Lanese, who spent a month in intensive care with head injuries.

Attempts Tuesday to reach Solicitor Duffie Stone for comment were unsuccessful.

Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner said his office has no new leads in the attack.

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