Judge refuses to dismiss charges against Christmas-Eve killer
Last month, South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Markley Dennis Jr. ruled that tow truck operator Preston Oates is not immune to manslaughter charges in the case that left Bluffton resident Carlos Olivera dead on Christmas Eve of 2010.
Judge Dennis ruled that because Oates shot Olivera after the mens' argument had ended, Preston Oates should not be protected under the state's "Castle Doctrine," which allows people to defend themselves or others from intruders in their homes, workplaces or vehicles.
Pending another appeal by Oates attorneys, this ruling means that prosecutors can try the Bluffton tow-truck driver on manslaughter charges.
Citing a surveillance video, witness statements and a pathology report as evidence that the argument over a booted minivan had ended and victim Carlos Olivera was walking away when Oates fired the judge ruled that The Castle Doctrine does not grant immunity to defendants who kill after an attack has ended.
Oates has been free on bond since August and the appeals process is likely to delay the manslaughter trial for several more months.