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Man convicted in Slick Gibbons' attack makes successful court appeal; state AG will appeal decision

A 40-year-old man convicted in 2012 for his alleged role in the 2010 assault and kidnapping of a Manning businessman has made a successful petition to the South Carolina Court of Appeals, leaving his conviction overturned. Michael Wilson Pearson was convicted in Clarendon County on charges of first-degree burglary, armed robbery, grand larceny, kidnapping and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, and was sentenced to a total of 60 years in prison. His jury heard that he and Victor McCoy Weldon jumped Edward "Slick" Gibbons about 6:15 a.m. May 15, 2010, as Gibbons exited his garage. The men robbed Gibbons of about $840, beat him and wrapped duct tape around his head. Following the attack, the men fled the scene in Gibbons' 1987 Chevrolet El Camino. The vehicle was found 30 minutes later, abandoned on the side of a nearby road. Pearson alleged in his successful appeal that a fingerprint recovered from the rear of the vehicle and matched to him was placed there during his time working on the Gibbons property, not during the course of the crime.

According to a decision written by the Court of Appeals, Pearson argued that "the state failed to present substantial circumstantial evidence of his involvement in any of the crimes charged and, therefore, the trial court erred in denying his motion for a directed verdict. We reverse." "Pearson argued that even though his fingerprint was found on the outside of Gibbons' car, the fingerprint was insufficient to place him at the crime scene because he lived only a block from Gibbons' store and there was expert testimony indicating a fingerprint could remain on the surface for an indeterminate period," the court's decision reads. State Attorney General spokesman Mark Powell said his office will appeal the decision to the S.C. Supreme Court. Pearson will remain in custody at Lieber Correctional Facility until the appeal is resolved. Weldon also received 60 years for the same charges in 2012. The state had more substantial circumstantial evidence tying him to the attack, according to the court's decision.


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