By Betsy Finklea
A bond hearing was held on Monday for William Mason and Joshua Manning, who are both charged with the murder of J.W. Bailey in front of Judge Roger Henderson.
William Mason is charged with murder, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, petit larceny, and armed robbery.
Joshua Manning is charged with murder, armed robbery, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, criminal conspiracy, and petit larceny.
It was noted by Assistant Solicitor Shipp Daniel that Mason also faces two first degree burglary charges on an unrelated case.
Daniel said that the case was investigated by the Dillon County Sheriff’s Office, City of Dillon Police Department, and SLED with the assistance of Keith Bailey, J.W. Bailey’s son.
Daniel said that on December 12, 2019 that two men walked into J.W. Bailey’s store, which he had owned for decades, and killed him. He said surveillance video and shell casings indicate that both men fired shots.
Mason turned himself in after a public outcry, but Manning was found later in Florence.
Daniel called it a “tragic case.”
Daniel noted that there had been a full confession in this case by Mason and so far, no cooperation from Manning.
Daniel said they have some decisions to make, and he would be meeting with Solicitor Will Rogers and the Bailey family to make those decisions.
Daniel said they were demanding that bond be denied in this case. He said there were some investigative things still taking place involving SLED, etc.
Daniel said that Mason has a prior record including in 2016-breaking into a motor vehicle and possession of stolen goods, 2017-burglary third, and 2019-resisting arrest, shoplifting, and providing false information to a police officer. Manning has no record.
Mason’s attorney said that Mason had lived in Dillon County since 2008 and had an 11th grade education. He had been incarcerated 24 days at the time of the hearing. He turned himself in has a small, non-violent arrest record, his attorney said. He asked for a reasonable bond. He said that Mason was unemployed and had no reason to leave the house. He said if a bond was issued it could come with some type of house arrest, curfew, or GPS monitoring. His attorney asked if bond was denied that the matter be reconsidered in 90 days.
Manning’s attorney said that Manning was a 19-year-old graduate of Latta High School, and he had held jobs previously at Harbor Freight Tools, Bojangle’s, and Fed Ex. his parents live in Charlotte, but his grandmother resides in Dillon, and he has strong ties to the community. He said that Manning could stay with her while the matter was pending. He noted that his client was presumed innocent. His attorney said that he does not believe that his client is a flight risk and that he would show up for court. He also stated that he would like bond reconsidered in 90 days if it was denied.
Daniel said normally the Solicitor’s Office has an open file policy, but that would not be happening in this case. He said they would comply with Rule 5, but would be holding witness names and statements.
Daniel further noted that the statute in place only calls for a bond reconsideration every six months unless there is a change of circumstances and that is what he was asking for in this case.
At this point, family members of J.W. Bailey were allowed to speak.
Bailey’s granddaughter, Lauren, stated the following: “We love and miss our Papa J every second of every minute of each day. Though we want the cowardly and heartless men who murdered J.W. Bailey to feel the excruciating pain and profound sense of loss we struggle with daily, we do not act on it Because we cannot. Because we are not them and do not want to be like them. Though our hearts are broken, and our world is shattered, we will continue on. As endless tears escape our eyes and heavy hearts burden our souls, we will stay the course of what is right and stand against what is wrong. We will fight to ensure justice is served for our loved one. All we ask, your honor, is that you help us in this endeavor.”
She continued, “My family and I stand before you today and implore you to consider this request: refuse bond for both William Mason and Joshua Manning. Not out of anger. Not for revenge. Not for spite. We ask this of you because, in order to kill an innocent man such as J.W. Bailey in cold blood, an evil must lie heavy within the souls of both William Mason and Joshua Manning that endangers us all. We cannot control this evil, nor undo the loss of life and devastation it has left in its wake, but we can prevent it from running rampant and doing further harm to another human being. J.W. Bailey witnessed this evil on December 12, 2019, and lost his life, but your honor, you can prevent others from experiencing this same fate at the hand of the men sitting in front of us today.”
The next to speak was Ryan Berry, son-in-law of J.W. Bailey, who read a letter from his wife Shannon. The letter stated: “It has been one month since my Daddy, J.W. Bailey, was shot and killed in his convenience store. The past month has been hell for me and my family. Our lives have been completely shattered. I have not even been able to return to work due to the stress this tragedy has placed on my body. I am not able to be there with my family today because I am on bed rest until I deliver this precious little girl, who unfortunately will never know her Papa J. He was taken from all of us at the age of 77. He was healthy and very active in Dillon. He worked hard and took care of his family and others in this community. He was very loved and cared for by so many.”
She continues, “In a senseless act of violence, two individuals took him away from us. And for what? I lay in bed every night and see these two walking in the store and killing my daddy. It haunts me EVERY NIGHT! I wake up every morning and dread getting out of bed because I know my daddy is no longer on this earth. As a family, we will NEVER get over this. However, my daddy taught us to take care of each other, and with that, we will take it day by day together with help from God above. Today, I ask for those who killed my daddy to never be free again. I want JUSTICE, and I want them to know what they did to my daddy, to my family, and to this community.”
Keith Bailey, son of J.W. Bailey, was the next to speak. He said December 11, 2019, was the last day he saw his daddy alive. They were on the fire department together, and Mr. J.W. had been on the fire department 52 years and was still an active firefighter.
He said that obviously these two individuals had a lot of hate in them, because he didn’t know what hate was until he went and saw his daddy lying behind the counter and what had happened to him.
He said although he had been on fire and rescue for 30 years, he would never forget that picture. He said it was the worst call that he had ever been on. He asked the judge to deny bond.
Jean Bailey, wife of J.W. Bailey, said they had been married 57 years. She said she had to go to the funeral home to be with her husband on their anniversary on December 16 because of what these evil boys had done.
Ishmael Manning, father of Joshua Manning, said he felt a lot of sympathy for the Bailey family, but the dilemma that they have is that they don’t know what happened. He said as a parent he had to go by what his son was telling him, and he was stating that he had done nothing. He said his son had never been in trouble and had never even been suspended from school. He said he was not asking for bond, but asked what if it came up that his son was not involved. He said they were not there against the Bailey family, he was there to stand with his son.
At this point, Assistant Solicitor Daniel noted that they had reason to believe there was another gentlemen in the back of the store when this happened.
Judge Henderson said that obviously this was a terrible tragedy for the entire community of Dillon County and Dillon.
He said the way this crime was carried out causes a great deal of concern.
He also showed concern that Manning was aware that he was wanted and had to be picked up in another county and that his parents live out of state. Judge Henderson said other factors was the nature of the crime and the confession by Mason.
Judge Henderson made additional comments and then denied bond.
He said in accordance with the statute, they cannot come back up for bond for six months.
By Betsy Finklea