Family of man killed on Christmas Eve speaks out

147874 articles in the archive and more added every day

Family of man killed on Christmas Eve speaks out

By ALLISON STICE
astice@islandpacket.com
Published Tuesday, January 17, 2012   |  741 Words  |  

Most days, Donna Sparks still expects her son to pop into her Pritchardville home for a bite to eat or to smoke a cigarette.

But Adrian Hilliard isn't coming by.

The 25-year-old was shot early Christmas Eve while he was with three other men in his mobile home on Jade Stone Court in Bluffton.

He died later that morning.

Hilliard's friend Andrew Bogart, 31, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office has said the shooting was an accident and that the men were drinking, using drugs and passing around Bogart's gun when it went off in Bogart's hand. Hilliard was shot in the head.

Sparks said she was with her son until 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve celebrating the holiday with other relatives and that he didn't drink alcohol.

The report from an autopsy performed at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston indicates there was no alcohol but trace amounts of marijuana in Hilliard's blood when he died.

Citing what she said were conflicting accounts from witnesses, Sparks said she also doesn't believe the shooting was an accident.

When deputies arrived at the mobile home at about 1 a.m., they found Hilliard with a gunshot wound and only one witness, according to Sgt. Robin McIntosh.

Bogart and another man had fled.

Investigators waded through differing and changing accounts of that night until Dec. 28, when they asked for help from the public in locating Bogart, who was believed to have fled the state.

Bogart turned himself in Jan. 3. His bond was set at $50,000, which he has posted and been released, according to the county detention center log. As a condition of his bond, Bogart is not allowed within 1,000 feet of the victim's residence or workplace, according to Beaufort County Clerk of Court records.

That meant Bogart had to move out of the mobile home he lived in on Huggins Hollow Lane, beside Hilliard's 22-year-old sister, Tiffany Fortier. Sparks said Bogart has complied with the order and is staying with a relative. He is under house arrest except for 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. work hours, according to the bond documents.

The investigation continues, McIntosh said.

Investigators "are not going to close it until they are sure no additional charges need to be filed against Bogart or someone else," McIntosh said.

Involuntary manslaughter is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, according to state law. The law says criminal negligence, defined as the reckless disregard for the safety of others, must be proved.

In a neighborhood where many involved and affected by the shooting live within walking distance, media reports have led some to believe that Hilliard was killed "in a drug deal gone bad," Sparks said.

But Hilliard didn't drink or do hard drugs, she said, and he was scared of guns.

The tight-knit community has helped the family, too. After his death, relatives established a fund to pay for his cremation, which collected enough donations to cover the $1,500 cost.

Sparks and Fortier now wear some of Hilliard's ashes in lockets around their necks.

They are still in shock, Fortier said.

Hilliard left Fortier's home at about 10 p.m. after opening presents with her 4-year-old son Jaccari David, with whom Hilliard was close.

"I told him, 'Merry Christmas, see you tomorrow, I love you,' " Fortier said. "And that was it."

Sparks said she worries that Bogart will get off for the crime.

"He walked away without calling the police," she said.

Follow reporter Allison Stice at twitter.com/lcblotter.

Bluffton man wanted in Christmas Day shooting turns self in, Jan. 3, 2012

Bluffton man wanted in fatal Christmas day shooting, Dec. 28, 2011

Witnesses give differing accounts of fatal Bluffton Christmas Day shooting, Sheriff's Office says, Dec. 27, 2011

Bluffton man dies after Christmas Day shooting, Dec. 26, 2011