Friday, May 4, 2012
An Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Deputy will have to come up with $50,000 to get out of jail.
Dorchester County Magistrate Judge H.T. Boatwright set the cash surety bond during a bond hearing held Friday afternoon for Kenneth Roy Winningham.
Winningham, 42, of Summerville turned himself in to the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office Friday on the advice of his attorney, Andy Savage. Winningham faces a charge of Criminal Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature after waking up his wife, 23-year-old Kristi Sanders-Winningham early Wednesday morning, accusing her of infidelity, then allegedly violently assaulting her.
According to a DCSO incident report, a deputy on patrol Wednesday evening was flagged down at a gas station on U.S. 78. The deputy made contact with the alleged victim, who told him her husband woke her up at about 12:30 a.m.Wednesday and accused her of infidelity. She said he told her that he had gone through her cell phone and found a text from another man. He punched her several times and she fell to the floor where he proceeded to kick her several more times. He then presented a .45 caliber pistol and threatened her with it, hitting her twice on the knee with it before firing two shots, she said.
She said she was unable to call 911 immediately after the incident because he took her telephone; he also threatened her with bodily harm.
Attorney Nick Thomas of the Coastal Law Firm, who stood in for Winningham’s attorney Andy Savage during the bond hearing, told the court that Winningham has deep ties to the Summerville community and has earned a distinguished record in law enforcement, earning the respect of both his peers and the community. Thomas noted that he has known Winningham personally and professionally for some time and believes him to be a law enforcement professional of the highest caliber and integrity.
“He understands the seriousness of the charges, understands what is required of him, and wants to exonerate his name.” Thomas said. “He has been clearly cooperative and has done everything one should do in this situation. There are two sides to every story and we have only heard one. This is one incident way out of character for him, and we believe a personal recognizance bond is appropriate.”
Sanders-Winningham, accompanied family members, requested that the court set Winningham’s bond be set as high as possible. She said that given the nature of the attack, she fears for her safety knowing he might be out of jail. She is currently staying with family in Orangeburg County.
Her sister, Attorney Chasity Sanders Avinger, accompanied her before the judge and also addressed the court. She said prior to this incident there had been no indication of any problems between the two and in fact, Kenny Winningham was a beloved member of their family up until this incident.
“As much as we loved Kenny, we love her more, and want her safe,” she said. “He is a law enforcement officer in Orangeburg County, where we all live and where she is currently staying, and he has been welcome in our homes, so there is no place he doesn’t know how to find. We would ask that there be a high cash bond set, if at all.”
Winningham told the court he is prepared to do whatever the court requires and stated that he is no danger to his wife or her family.
Boatwright noted that the charge Winningham faces is a bailable offense, meaning he could not keep him in jail even if that were his desire. Then he set a cash surety bond of $50,000.
After the hearing, Avinger spoke to the media on behalf of her sister. She acknowledged the fact that Winningham is a well-liked and well-respected law enforcement officer with a good record – in fact he is a former deputy of the year for that department -- but said that does not excuse his actions.
Even more frustrating, however, is trying to understand why this happened, she said. The two occasionally argued, as all couples do, but there was no hint of trouble between them, Avinger said. Both families got along well, and ultimately, this situation has been a terrible shock to everyone involved.
“What he was confronting her about was very minor – one text message – so I can’t believe this incident was about that,” she said.
In fact, the text message about which Winningham appears to be so upset was an innocuous, humorous text sent by Avinger’s husband, she said.
“We were all sitting at the dinner table when he sent it -- I was there when he sent it and thought it was hilarious,” she said. “Somehow, it was not taken that way.”
Winningham is no longer employed with the Orangeburg Sheriff’s Department, according to OSD officials.