News13 Special Report: Accused criminals out on bond

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – News13 is investigating why a Myrtle Beach man, charged with murdering two people while he was out of jail on an attempted murder charge, was released from jail again.

Calvin Ford was arrested in 2015 for an attempted murder at the Fat Boiz Club. While out on home detention, Ford was charged with two counts of murder after a double homicide on Warren Street. Ford ran, but police found him the next day because he was wearing an ankle monitor.

“They’re just wreaking havoc on our society and they’re doing it for fun,” said Wesley Finkley, who is tired of seeing violent offenders back on the street. Finkley is a local preacher and was the keynote speaker at Myrtle Beach’s Stop the Violence rally in September.

“They’re making a mockery of the judicial system,” added Finkley. “There has to be safety guards in our society.”

News13’s Abbey O’Brien reviewed the cases of every person on home detention in Horry County and found several other people with violent histories.

One of the men on the list was Said Vereen, who police say shot and paralyzed a teenager in Conway in 2012.

A judge in Vereen’s case denied bond but a second judge overruled the decision and he was let out on home detention with a $35,000 bond.

Court records show Vereen was also charged with attempted murder after another shooting on Christmas Day and a judge let him out on home detention again while he waits for trial.

“That should never happen especially with a repeat offender,” said Finkley.

News13 took these concerns to Fifteenth Circuit Judge Benjamin Culbertson who said bonds are one of the most misunderstood parts of criminal cases.

“They haven’t been proven guilty of any crime,” said Culbertson.

He explained that judges consider whether someone’s a danger to the community and whether they’re a flight risk when setting bond and bond conditions.

“If you get a lifetime resident of Georgetown or Horry County and all their relatives are here and they don’t have any other place to go then they’re probably going to get a bond,” said Culbertson. “Unless the crime is such that they’ve got an incentive to just take off and run.”

Culbertson also said it’s hard to keep someone in jail before they are convicted.

“If [bond’s] been denied then there’s no real incentive to bring the charge to trial,” he added.

Overall, Culbertson said it’s a balancing act between determining if someone is a flight risk and a danger to society. He also added, “You have to balance all of that against the presumption of innocence.”

Finkley said while he understands someone is innocent until proven guilty, he believes that’s an excuse.

“I understand that they have not been convicted in a court of law yet and certainly I’m not trying to convict anyone,” he added. “What I’m trying to say is that there has to be a holding period to make sure society is safe until he or she has his or her day in court.”