Could Hewett's Case Add Loopholes in Other Trials?

BRUNSWICK COUNTY --  Suspended Brunswick County Sheriff Ron Hewett remains off the job, and the fate of some of the criminal cases he investigated appears to be up in the air.

At least one defense lawyer is pouncing on information released on the Hewett case last week as proof of his client's innocence.  A recording of Hewett's voice could be a key piece of evidence.

According to a police report, it has been nearly a year since George Cooper pointed a gun and shot at two Sheriff's Deputies answering a 911 call about a domestic dispute.

The deputies shot Cooper, hitting him five times.

But, in an audio tape released last week, you can hear Sheriff Hewett tell a different version of this incident just hours after the shooting.

Hewett sounds worried as he speculates with co-workers about what would happen if, as he suspects, tests reveal Cooper never fired a shot.

"I think the gun is empty. But you know something, when you level a gun at no one, no one knows if the gun is empty or not," said Hewett.

Brian Moore is representing Cooper who has recovered from his injuries and is charged with a felony.

According to Moore, the contradiction is a big deal and could clear his client.

"The tape is fantastic. You don't get a gift like that. Usually clients tell you one thing and police say another, and typically believe what police are telling us," said Moore.

Prosecutor Lee Bollinger said his office is looking into some cases Hewett handled.  He said it's hard to know what will happen.  He said it depends on the Sheriff's involvement in each case and Sheriff Hewett did not investigate Cooper's case.

Cooper's trial is next month, when he'll find out if Hewett's troubles ease his own.

The State Bureau of Investigation could be called in to investigate this case and others that Hewett was directly involved with.

Reported by Sarah Warlick