Accused killer’s brief freedom on bond stirs a debate
By Bobby Bryant
Freddy Ray Harris III’s $100,000 bond only bought him one day of freedom.
But it was enough to ignite a debate over whether his bond was too low for a murder and kidnapping charge – and whether a judge should have set any bond at all for him.
Immediately after putting Harris, of Hartsville, back in jail Aug. 1 for allegedly violating terms of his bond, Darlington County Sheriff Tony Chavis drew the line: “Harris should have never been given a bond on a murder charge and allowed to go home,” the sheriff said.
“As long as they keep letting murderers out, my deputies and me will be prepared to lock them right back up,” Chavis said. “Harris is clearly a danger to the community.”
“I think we have a dirty system,” says Stephanie Stewart, who was friends with both Harris and the man he allegedly killed, Kurt Russell Scholl, 36, a Hartsville resident who ran a car-repair shop.
She said a “good old boy” network in Darlington County, which she said lets some suspects walk free from jail on low bonds, is part of the problem.
Stewart said Harris’ $100,000 bond was “really low” considering he is accused of murdering Scholl and kidnapping a woman Scholl and Harris had dated. Stewart said the fact that Harris was given any bond “is crazy, considering all the (arrests) in Harris’ past” and the violence of the December 2019 slaying.
Scholl’s head was blown off with a shotgun, she said. The shotgun had belonged to Scholl. Stewart said Scholl fired first, hitting Harris in the leg during a confrontation, then Harris took the gun and fired multiple shots.
Harris’ attorney, Paul Cannarella of Hartsville, did not return a phone call from the News & Press. In a statement to WPDE-TV after his client was granted bond, but before he was returned to jail, Cannarella said: “All I can say is that I did the best I could in asserting my client’s rights under the same Constitution that we all live under.”
Harris had been held in the Darlington County jail since December on a list of charges: The murder of Scholl; the kidnapping of a woman both men had been romantically involved with (at separate times); first-degree burglary; grand larceny; and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.
During the last week of July, a judge set bond for Harris at $100,000; he would need to put up 10 percent, or $10,000, to be released. Friends of Scholl, trying to draw attention to the case, did interviews with WPDE-TV saying that bond should not have been set.
By Friday, July 31, Harris had put up the necessary money, was fitted with a GPS ankle bracelet, and was released from jail after seven months.
By nightfall the next day, Aug. 1, Harris was back in jail, accused of violating the terms of his bond. Authorities have not said exactly how he violated his bond conditions, but the Darlington County Sheriff’s Office responded with its Special Incident Response