COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) – A judge found former State Senator RC Soles not guilty Friday on charges of assault with a deadly weapon.
Judge Judith Daniels, of Robeson County, was called in to hear the case in Tabor City.
Soles was accused of hitting Frankie Jernigan, a former client, in the face with a metal walking cane back in September when Jernigan was trespassing on Soles' property. The former senator was facing charges of misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon.
Jernigan took the stand just before noon and said he has known Soles for eight years. He described his relationship with Soles, 77, as just his lawyer.
He explained that he went to Soles' residence on the morning of Sept. 10 to get money from the former state Senator, who had given him money before. When he arrived, Jernigan said, that Soles sprayed him in the face with mace and hit him with a metal cane.
Jernigan, 29, testified that the cane belonged to his uncle, Jason Fowler, who arrived at the residence before he did. Fowler pleaded the fifth and did not have to testify in court.
"I ain't scared of him," Jernigan told the courtroom in regards to Soles.
At the time of the incident, Jernigan claimed Soles put a gun to his head and threatened him to not tell anyone about what had happened. Friday, Jernigan said he lied about those actions because he needed money. He also admitted to lying to the StarNews about Soles wanting sexual favors for money.
Danielle Jernigan, Frankie's wife, also took the stand Friday. She testified that she was on Soles' property with Frankie during the incident and that he was not maced. She said he was hit after Soles asked him to leave atleast 10 times and that Frankie was "angry, aggressive, and determined not to leave until he got money."
Lt. Ronald Carol with the Tabor City Police Department told the courtroom he was called to the town's IGA parking lot by Soles four days after the incident involving the cane.
Carol said that when he arrived, Jernigan was standing in the parking lot with a black eye. The officer said Jernigan had told him he got into a fight with Soles.
Earlier this year, Jernigan said he would like for the case to be dismissed because Soles has done more for him than his family ever did.
Soles' attorney, Joe Cheshire, said during closing arguments that a cane is not a deadly weapon and it was only used for self defense in order to get away from two men larger and younger than himself. While the District Attorney's office argued that Soles didn't call the police when Jernigan was trespassing on his property, the way he had previously before.