RALEIGH, N.C. — A grand jury in Columbus County has found probable cause to indict state Sen. R.C. Soles Jr. on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury in connection with an August shooting at Soles' Tabor City home.
Soles, 74, a Democrat, is the longest-serving state senator. He shot one of two men that he said were intruding into his home. His attorney said the shooting was self-defense.
Columbus County District Attorney Rex Gore turned the case over Attorney General Roy Cooper, whose office presented the case to a grand jury Thursday. The grand jury has asked Cooper to prepare the necessary paperwork for it to return an indictment against Soles.
Soles' attorney, Joseph B. Cheshire V of Raleigh, said in a written statement that it's too early to say that Soles has been charged criminally:
"We have been informed that the Columbus County Grand Jury has returned a presentment in the case of our client, Senator RC Soles. To be clear, a presentment is not an indictment or a criminal charge. It is simply a request by the Grand Jury to be allowed to consider whether probable cause exists for an indictment. As the Grand Jury continues its work, Senator Soles continues to maintain that he acted in defense of his life and his home on August 23, 2009."
The grand jury wrote in its presentment that it had reason to believe that Soles had committed a crime:
"Twelve or more grand jurors concur in finding probable cause to believe that R.C. Soles, Jr. committed the offense of Assault With a Deadly Weapon Inflicting Serious Injury against Thomas Kyle Blackburn in Columbus County on or about August 23, 2009 by unlawfully, willfully and feloniously shooting Thomas Kyle Blackburn and inflicting serious injury."