Originally created 11/10/99

Inmate asks for new trial



AIKEN -- An inmate convicted of killing an Aiken County store owner at age 14 is asking for a new trial, filing a lawsuit that claims his attorney did not properly investigate the case or defend him.

David Gardner Avery, who is now 20 years old, filed the post-conviction relief motion this week, seeking to overturn a jury's conviction and a judge's life sentence for the 1994 murder and robbery of John Reiner Sr. at the Number One Market in Clearwater. He wants a new trial.

Mr. Avery was one of three teens convicted in the killing.

In his motion, the inmate states that defense attorney Nathaniel Roberson of Columbia failed to adequately investigate the case prior to trial, present witnesses, make necessary objections or present a viable defense.

He also accuses attorney Jack Swerling of Columbia of failing to present worthy arguments in an appeal, which was rejected earlier this year by the South Carolina Supreme Court.

The triggerman in the June 6, 1994, killing, Chassako Glanton, was given a life sentence to be served consecutively with a 25-year sentence for armed robbery and a five-year sentence for a weapons conviction. Mr. Avery was sentenced to the same jail time to be served concurrently, which gives him an earlier chance at parole.

A third teen, Chavados Miles, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in Juvenile Court.

During a trial in January 1996, testimony revealed that the teens donned masks and entered the store at 1:30 p.m., pulled two weapons on Mr. Reiner and his son, John Reiner Jr., and robbed them. As they left, Mr. Glanton fatally shot the elder Mr. Reiner in the back.

Testimony also showed that Mr. Avery's parents had moved their son to Aiken from his home in Philadelphia to escape negative influences. In court, Mr. Avery's attorney argued that the boy was manipulated by Mr. Glanton.

A jury took about three hours to convict Mr. Avery.

The post-conviction relief hearing is not expected to go before a judge until sometime next year.

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (803) 279-6895.