Former S.C. state representative Chris Corley will plead guilty to first-degree domestic violence, a felony that could put him in jail for up to 10 years, as part of a plea deal, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.
“That was our original plea offer,” spokesman Robert Kittle wrote in an email Wednesday afternoon.
Corley will plead guilty in Aiken on Monday, where his trial on an aggravated domestic violence charge had been scheduled to begin.
“If he were to back out of the plea, we’ll proceed with jury selection on Tuesday morning,” Kittle wrote.
Judge Doyet A. Early, who would have presided over the trial, could sentence Corley to no jail time or as much as 10 years, according to Kittle.
Just last week, the attorney general denied a request by Corley’s wife to drop or reduce charges against him.
If the charges couldn’t be dropped, Heather Corley, whom Chris Corley is accused of hitting, asked that they be reduced from aggravated domestic violence to third-degree domestic violence and that her husband be allowed to complete pre-trial intervention.
“Because of the seriousness of the allegations and that a gun was involved, we will not drop or reduce the charges,” Kittle wrote then.
Corley, who once represented District 84 in the state House, is accused of punching his wife in the face and head and threatening to kill her while pointing a Smith & Wesson handgun at her on Dec. 26. An Aiken County Sheriff’s Office report stated that the incident happened in front of the couple’s 8- and 2-year-old children.
Corley, 36, has said that his wife tried to hit him in the face and that he pushed her away.
In a January court hearing, when charges against Corley were upgraded, prosecutor Kinli Abee said Heather Corley still lived “in fear for her life” and had taken out a restraining order to keep him away from her. He already had been ordered by the court to have no contact with her or his children.
“This is an escalating pattern of behavior,” Abee said. “It’s not the first time.”
On Dec. 26, Corley’s wife confronted him with a text message that she interpreted as evidence of marital infidelity, Abee said. Corley threw her down and hit her in the side of the head with his fist, she said.
As the beating was happening in the couple’s bedroom, Corley noticed that one of his children was watching through the open door. He stopped, closed the door and resumed the beating, which included him biting her on the nose, Abee said.
Eventually, Abee said, Corley’s wife and children were able to flee to the kitchen, where she used her Apple Watch to call 911 because she could not retrieve her cellphone.
Corley went to the garage, got a gun from from a car and pointed it at his wife, threatening to kill her, the prosecutor said. She and the children were able to flee the house and called 911 a second time.