State News

Soles pleads guilty to assault charge

Posted February 25, 2010

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— State Sen. R.C. Soles pleaded guilty Thursday to assault with a deadly weapon in connection with an August shooting at his Tabor City home.

Soles, D-Columbus, agreed to pay a $1,000 fine for the misdemeanor offense, but he won't serve any jail time.

Sen. R.C. Soles in court Lawmaker avoids jail time with plea

Although he announced in December that he wouldn't seek re-election this fall, he said Thursday that he doesn't plan to resign before finishing his term of office.

"I’m very glad to have it behind me, as much as it is. I’m sorry it happened. I thought I was in the right,” he said after his court hearing.

Soles, 75, previously admitted to shooting Kyle Blackburn, 22, in the leg, but he had maintained that he acted in self-defense after Blackburn and Billie Wright, 23, kicked at his door.

Blackburn wasn't badly hurt. He and Wright have since been arrested on unrelated drug charges.

The state Attorney General's Office assumed control of the case in September after local prosecutors said their close ties to Soles would preclude them from handling the investigation.

In December, a grand jury found probable cause that Soles acted criminally when he shot Blackburn. A different grand jury returned the indictment in early January.

Senior Deputy Attorney General Jim Coman said Thursday that Soles fired two shots during the incident – one into the air and the second toward the ground, which hit Blackburn.

"Instead of calling law enforcement, which could have addressed the issue for him, unfortunately, he made a bad decision,” Coman said.

Blackburn and Wright, two former legal clients of Soles, asked prosecutors to drop the case, he said.

“Under the circumstances, we felt he couldn’t take the law into his own hands. He had to be held accountable for his actions,” he said.

Soles is North Carolina's longest-serving legislator, having been in the General Assembly for 42 years.

Defense attorney Joe Cheshire said the misdemeanor conviction wouldn't affect his political career or his law license. He said Soles' political position played no role in the plea deal.

Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight expressed disappointment in Soles' position.

"Because he has been my friend for so long, this is a sad day for R.C. Soles and a sad day for me," said Basnight, D-Dare.

Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger said Soles' plea is a continuation of legal troubles facing top Democrats in North Carolina.

"If in Brunswick County you can pay $1,000 and shoot people, well I think there is going to be a lot of people lining up to pay that $1,000," Berger's communications director Brent Woodcox said.

Political watchdog Joe Sinsheimer said the August shooting speaks to Soles’ judgment, something voters shouldn’t have to question.

"The people of North Carolina have been short-changed the truth today and that is what is most troubling," Sinsheimer said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • whitehackle Feb 26, 2010

    40 years in the state senate, and at least 34 years of similar behavior. Shakespeare was right.

  • whitehackle Feb 26, 2010

    75 year old unmarried lawyer/legislator who seems to have quite a history surrounding young boys/men with drug problems (who just happen to be his law clients.) NC should be proud.

  • bkahuna Feb 26, 2010

    Soles is a democrat, who has voted for more gun control, and against the 2nd amendment...yet he owns a gun and has used it to shoot someone. Ironic?

  • mrr03 Feb 26, 2010

    TO: bkahuna..You are much for freedom of speech..It appears that WRAL reports the issue, allows comments and THEN if THEY do not like the comments OR the comments appear not to favor/flavor their overall position..they will not allow it..What a double standard..AND check this out..MOST good thinking people know it is happening

  • bkahuna Feb 26, 2010

    WRAL seems to want to filter and sensor any posts that might suggest that Soles is not a squeaky clean man.

  • bkahuna Feb 26, 2010

    Before you blindly defend Soles, spend 10 minutes researching his history. How his "history" has remained out of the spotlight for so many years, is a mystery for the ages.

  • this is fdup Feb 25, 2010

    shoot a guy and it is not even a felony ...must be nice to have good friends

  • Milkman Feb 25, 2010

    I think they were lovers sharris19
    Bingo, everyone one else misses this but you and I...

    No, the guy who said this bears a resemblance to Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil also got it.

    Yep, lover's quarrel gone bad. High profile defendant, plead it to a misdemeanor and call it done.

  • john283594 Feb 25, 2010

    I think they were lovers

    Bingo, everyone one else misses this but you and I...

  • delilahk2000 Feb 25, 2010