A county prosecutor who had received death threats signed a gun out of the sheriff's evidence room only to have it stolen a month later.
Though the events happened in 2013, the gun never was recovered. And Walt Wilkins, 13th Judicial Circuit solicitor for Greenville and Pickens counties in South Carolina, is facing repercussions in his bid for re-election Tuesday.
“I was very concerned about my ability to successfully prosecute that case," said Lisa Parrish, a former assistant solicitor assigned the case while working for Wilkins. “The gun in question, again if I recall, was an essential piece of the probable cause for the officers to get inside the car and search it."
Signing out evidence in a pending case can be problematic because it affects the chain of custody in a case, according to Wilkins' political adversaries.
Wilkins, who didn't want to buy a gun because of the expense and what he considered a temporary need for it, said he consulted with Greenville County's sheriff at the time, Steve Loftis. The prosecutor declined an offer to assign a deputy to him for protection.
After he shared specifics about the threats, Loftis told Wilkins – who has an annual income of $141,354, according to the State Ethics Commission – that he could borrow a gun from the evidence room, Wilkins said. A month after Wilkins took possession of the Sig Sauer P938 pistol, he reported the gun stolen from his unlocked SUV parked outside his Greenville home.
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