Local News

Jury Selection Under Way in Manslaughter Trial of Hoke Deputy

Posted October 25, 1998 6:00 a.m. EST

— A case that's making news in Lee County involves a Hoke Sheriff's Deputy accused of manslaughter. The case was moved to Lee County due to pre-trial publicity in Hoke County.

Deputy Frank Hicks faces the court charge even though his department says he did nothing wrong.

"I do not feel like that Frank has done anything that he should not have done. He's there to protect the public," said Hoke County Sheriff Wayne Byrd.

As jury selection got under way Monday morning, family members of 32-year-old David Sivak filled the courtroom. They say they are nervous, anxious and upset.

It was Labor Day weekend of last year when Hoke County Deputy Frank Hicks told investigators that, after a short chase, he shot and killed David Sivak when Sivak tried to run him over with a van.

An internal investigation by the sheriff's office determined the deputy had a right to use deadly force. But after an investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation and theAttorney General'soffice, a grand jury indicted the deputy on voluntary manslaughter charges.

An autopsy report says Sivak had cocaine in his system and had been shot four times. Sivak's family, which has protested in front of the sheriff's office several times, says their loved one would have never intentionally harmed anyone.

"David was scared," says Jo Ann Sivak, the victim's widow. "David would not drive his vehicle in the direction of anybody. David drove away from people. The shots were fired from the side of the vehicle, not from the front. For them to see, for people to see the evidence and to know what happened and not just hear me say it, it is going to mean a lot to me."

Deputy Frank Hicks remains an employee of the Hoke County Sheriff's Department. He is doing administrative work without his gun, until a Lee County jury determines his guilt or innocence.

The county attorney and attorney's with the Police Benevolent Association are representing the deputy in court. PBA leaders say they are watching this case very closely. They say if Hicks is found guilty, this case may make other officers hesitate, they say , because they fear prosecution. That in turn could put their lives in danger.

The trial is expected to last less than to two weeks. If found guilty, Hicks could face anything from probation to up to eight years in prison.

The Sivak family has also filed a wrongful death suit against the county, the sheriff and his department. That case has not been heard yet.