Originally created 01/27/99

Carolina authorities seek teen for trial



AIKEN -- South Carolina authorities are reaching across the Savannah River to seize some say-so in the case that left a father and two small girls dead on this side of the state line two weeks ago.

Top managers of the South Carolina Highway Patrol were in Georgia on Tuesday to repair a line of communication that failed when the Martinez teen accused of causing those deaths obtained a $20,000 bond with no one there to object for South Carolina.

But Cpl. Jones Gamble said the patrol is not looking back at the fiasco or hashing over who said what in the sometimes-testy turn of events.

"Our sole purpose is to get Shayna Lively back to South Carolina for trial and achieve some justice for the family of the three people who died. Our reconstruction team is uncovering new evidence every day. We have a strong case, and that's our focus," he said. "There is no bad blood. We are working together, and we are looking ahead."

When communication broke down, the patrol was waiting to charge Ms. Lively, 19, with three counts of felony DUI and maybe murder. She was driving the wrong way on Interstate 20 near Graniteville when her car ran head on into one driven by Bernard Hearns, 31, authorities said. He died along with his daughters, 18-month-old Zainab Hearns and 3-year-old Imani K. Momodu. Investigating troopers said Ms. Lively might have been drinking.

But with no jurisdiction in Georgia, where her injuries were treated, South Carolina's patrol relied on Richmond County sheriff's deputies to detain her on a fugitive warrant.

Richmond County officers arrested Ms. Lively but didn't tell the South Carolina Highway Patrol. Nor did they notify South Carolina authorities of her hearing.

Police, prosecutors and relatives of the dead said they had planned to attend any hearings for Ms. Lively, in person or by proxy.

The communication failure was an aberration, said Cpl. Gamble, one of a half-dozen officers who met Tuesday with Richmond County Sheriff Charlie Webster and several of his deputies. Among them was the deputy who said last week that South Carolina authorities were responsible for keeping up with their own case.

His comment -- "Do they have directions on how to get here? Do they have a phone book?" -- was not discussed in the meeting, which dealt solely on how the agencies can work together toward Ms. Lively's extradition and prosecution, Cpl. Gamble said.

The troopers' resolve has deepened since the bond hearing last week before Richmond County Chief Magistrate William Jennings III, Cpl. Gamble said.

"That $20,000 bond is an insult to the three people who died in that wreck," he said. "Take $20,000 and divide it by three, and you've got an awfully small price for an innocent life. Judge Jennings might not care what we think about that, but he ought to care about the family that has to live with it. That's where our concern is right now."

State troopers had especially wanted input on a bond if one was considered. The $20,000 bond wouldn't have happened in South Carolina, Cpl. T.M. Bell said. In a recent felony DUI case at Graniteville, with an injured child who did not die, a South Carolina magistrate set bond for the suspected drunken driver at $75,000.

South Carolina's Solicitor Barbara Morgan, who will prosecute Ms. Lively, said she also is working on the communication breakdown despite other demands, including criminal court in Aiken.

She said nothing could be done about the judge who said he didn't care what South Carolina thought about the low bond he'd set. But she is trying to improve chances of being represented at Ms. Lively's next court date. That is set for March 3, but South Carolina officials hope to get it moved up.

Ms. Lively's bond was conditioned on her checking into Georgia Regional Hospital for psychiatric treatment, based on her family's and attorney's claim that she has been suicidal since the wreck.

Margaret N. O'Shea and Chasiti Kirkland can be reached at (803) 279-6895 or scbureau@augustachronicle.com.