Judge considers dismissing charges against former Timmonsville town clerk

Judge Knox McMahon heard arguments Thursday morning as to whether or not Forgery and Misconduct charges should be dismissed against Wilhelmena Washington.

In November 2011, the State Law Enforcement Division arrested Washington saying she forged Judge Lloyd Wilcox's signature to commitment and release paperwork for an inmate at the Florence County Detention Center, Willie Lee Robinson, Jr.

At the time, she was the clerk for the Town of Timmonsville.

In March, the State indicted Washington for an additional count of Forgery and an additional count of Misconduct in Office.

The motive behind the State's prosecution of Washington and the additional charges is retaliation, according to Washington's attorney Patrick McLaughlin.

His motion to dismiss the charges was heard before Judge McMahon Thursday morning.

"Shortly after the defendant failed to provide law enforcement with any information on other matters in Timmonsville, the defendant was indicted. They filed that. They put a file record admitting they indicted this lady because she couldn't help us investigate other crimes. That was the purpose of the entire prosecution of Ms. Washington," said McLaughlin.

McLaughlin adds that state police didn't investigate the additional charges before Washington was indicted on them.

"They have no new evidence whatsoever which led to these new indictments. In fact, your honor they have performed before they indicted her on the new indictments in March, they have not done a lick of investigation into the conduct cited in those new new indictments," McLaughlin explained.

He cited vindictive prosecution, insufficiency and deficiency of indictment as to why the charges should be dismissed against his client.

"It is clear that if this court condones this behavior . They're going to keep doing it again. What we're asking you to do is to find that there is vindictive prosecution in this case, that because of that, Ms. Washington can't be guaranteed a fair trial and to dismiss these charges against her," McLaughlin added.

The SC Attorney General's Office is prosecuting Washington.

Attorney Allen Myrick says McLaughlin's argument that they're vindictively prosecuting Washington is simply not true.

He says McLaughlin filed a motion for a speedy trial knowing the investigation was ongoing and more charges could be be filed.

"This is ongoing, this is ongoing. This is not complete under any understanding. Special agent Follin has been working on this case since, I believe he's still working on this case. "The notion that these subsequent indictments are somehow a surprise to the defense, I think is misleading at best, your honor."

McMahon will rule on this matter at a hearing on July 3 in Lexington.

We will keep you posted on his decision.