SLED agent on the stand

An agent for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division testified for the prosecution this morning in the James Bartee trial. It fell to Michael Sloan the duty to investigate a complaint that Bartee wanted a retired judge kidnapped and left out of state so he could not attend a hearing in Anderson to decide whether the Sheriff’s candidate could remain on the ballot. Sloan testified his reaction was one of shock later when he listened to phone calls between Bartee and Nick Blackwell and between Blackwell and Bartee friend Joe Milbert. Sloan made arrangements with the Anderson Sheriff’s Office to equip Blackwell with a wire and a transmitter so that an in-person meeting with Bartee could be recorded and monitored. As he went about trying to establish Blackwell’s believability, the SLED agent said he used a search warrant to obtain Blackwell’s telephone records during May of 2012. According to Sloan, there were 21 calls back and forth between Bartee and Blackwell from May 1 to May 12. Sloan told Deputy Solicitor David Wagner the May 12 date was significant, for it was the day of Walhalla Mayfest. Blackwell told the jury yesterday that Bartee sent him to Mayfest for the purpose of handing out fliers detrimental to Donnie Fricks, another Sheriff’s candidate. And a Walhalla police officer testified this morning about a call his department received that day to investigate an altercation reported at Mayfest between Fricks and Blackwell. Sloan called attention also to other phone calls involving Bartee and Blackwell and Blackwell and Milbert during the days preceding Bartee’s arrest on the charge of solicitation to commit a felony.