State News

Grand jury indicts Soles in shooting

Posted January 7, 2010 4:03 a.m. EST
Updated January 7, 2010 5:37 p.m. EST

— A Columbus County grand jury on Thursday indicted state Sen. R.C. Soles in connection with an August shooting at his Tabor City home.

Soles, D-Columbus, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.

Authorities have said Soles shot Thomas Kyle Blackburn after two intruders kicked in the front door of the lawmaker's home. Blackburn wasn't badly hurt in the incident.

Soles' attorney, Joe Cheshire, said in a statement Thursday that his client fired in self-defense, adding that he was disappointed with the indictment.

"We will continue to work with the Attorney General’s Office to resolve this unfortunate matter, consistent with the truth," Cheshire said.

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.

A grand jury last month found that Soles acted criminally when he shot Blackburn.

A different grand jury returned the indictment Thursday. If he is convicted, he could face 15 to 31 months in prison.

Soles, 75, is the state's longest-serving lawmaker, having been in the General Assembly for 42 years. He said last week that he won't seek re-election in November.

Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight said he doesn't plan to ask Soles to step down earlier, saying his longtime colleague hasn't had his day in court.

"I don’t know much about the details of this case, except that our system of justice will run its course," Basnight, D-Dare, said in a statement.