Originally created 06/30/03

Batchelor surrenders to police



AIKEN - Fugitive Michael Batchelor, on the run since jumping bail June 13 instead of pleading guilty as planned to involuntary manslaughter and felony drunken-driving charges, turned himself in Sunday at the Aiken County Detention Center, authorities said.

Accompanied by his lawyer, James Whittle, of Aiken, Mr. Batchelor, 35, of Graniteville, charged in connection with the truck wreck that killed his three sons, walked into the lobby of the jail at about 4:45 p.m., said Lt. Michael Frank, a spokesman for the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.

Minutes after he arrived at the jail, sheriff's deputies arrested him on the bench warrant issued by Circuit Judge James Barber, Lt. Frank said.

Aiken County Sheriff Mike Hunt said his office's investigation into Mr. Batchelor's whereabouts for the past 16 days continues. After Mr. Batchelor jumped $100,000 bail, his ex-wife, Joy Batchelor, accused members of his family of harboring him.

"We don't have anything that points to his family and his friends sheltering him," Sheriff Hunt said.

Until he surrendered, investigators were working a cold trail, sheriff's Lt. Barney Eagerton said.

"We were still interviewing folks and developing leads," Lt. Eagerton said. "I think we had a ways to go. I don't think we were close to him."

Mr. Batchelor's ex-wife, who divorced him in 1990, could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Batchelor was free on a surety bond put up in August by Nancy Naghibzadeh, of Aiken, an employee of Aurora Pavilion Behavioral Health Services who had been dating Mr. Batchelor in the months before the July 11, 2002, wreck that killed his sons, Brandon, 13; Drew, 11; and Ashton, 15, who was driving his father's Nissan pickup when it collided head-on with a car on Belvedere-Clearwater Road.

Authorities from the South Carolina Highway Patrol said Mr. Batchelor provided beer to some of a group of six boys. Mr. Batchelor was charged with 12 felonies, including involuntary manslaughter, accessory before the fact to felony DUI resulting in a death and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Mr. Batchelor is no longer eligible for bail and will remain behind bars until the charges against him are settled. He also faces unrelated charges of criminal domestic violence.