Prosecutor: Bartee asked Blackwell to kidnap Williams

Deputy Solicitor David Wagner says James Bartee asked Nick Blackwell to kidnap Jimmy Williams. And it doesn’t matter, Wagner says, that Bartee later told Blackwell to hold off. By that point, Wagner told the jury, a crime had been committed. Bartee is on trial, charged with solicitation to commit a felony. Wagner and his counterpart, defense attorney Douglas Brannon, this morning made their opening arguments to the Oconee General Sessions Court jury. Brannon stressed Bartee is not guilty. He foretold a strategy in which the defense intends to poke holes in the recording on which the prosecution will rely to demonstrate Bartee solicited Blackwell to kidnap Williams. As the trial officially got underway, the jury and the courtroom heard a recitation of the events that led to Bartee’s decision to run for Sheriff last year and the circumstances in which his eligibility to run for the office were brought into question. And it began to hear about that pivotal time in May 2012 in which, according to the prosecution, Bartee asked Blackwell, then a Bartee supporter, to kidnap Williams and take him out of state so that Williams could not be present for a civil court proceeding. That was the hearing in which Williams labeled Bartee ineligible because the federal law enforcement officer agent had not satisfied a state law requiring a candidate for sheriff to have served at least one year as a South Carolina law enforcement officer.