Former Clerk of Court's request to dismiss charges denied
Judge Michael Nettles denied a motion Tuesday morning to dismiss charges against Wilhelmina Washington.
Last November, she was charged with forging a judge's signature that could have allowed for a man to be released from jail.
At the time, Washington was the Clerk of Court for the Town of Timmonsville. She was fired from that position in May.
Agents with the State Law Enforcement Division say she forged Judge Lloyd Wilcox's signature to a commitment and release paperwork to the Florence County Detention Center on inmate Willie Lee Robinson, Jr.
Court documents say Washington filled out another commitment form, signed Judge Wilcox's signature to it and faxed it over to the detention center.
Washington's attorney Patrick McLaughlin spoke on her behalf Tuesday and says she has signed the judge's signature at least 70 other times and he has the documents to prove it.
He added that Washington was under the impression that she was allowed to sign such paperwork.
"If this is a forgery your honor, she's the worst forger in the history of mankind. She called the cops and asked the cops to come witness her committing forgery and then she signed her name to the forged document," explained McLaughlin.
He argued Judge Wilcox confirmed to investigators that Washington has in the past been given permission to sign his signature.
McLaughlin says his client has fully cooperated with the investigation and has done so to the extent of obtaining documents on her own and identifying other instances of similarly filling out paperwork to the State.
"It's not often that I make a motion to dismiss on a general sessions charge before trial. I understand that it is somewhat unusual, but this case your honor I just feel like it's waste of judicial economy to prosecute this lady given the evidence that Washington has obtained on her own."
McLaughlin says Washington had no criminal intent and she neither willfully attempted to defraud anyone nor willfully breached any duty.
The SC Attorney General's Office is prosecuting the case. Megan Burchstead is the lawyer representing the state.
Burchstead says they've made attempts to negotiate with Washington, but didn't get anywhere.
" It was the State's intention to try and negotiate with her to the extent that she could help herself and help the investigation, but she did not provide any information," explained Burchstead.
She added a grand jury believed there was evidence Washington committed a crime when they indicted her in July.
Judge Nettles encouraged the prosecution to look at all the facts and circumstances of the case after he denied McLaughlin's motion to dismiss charges.