Director’s attacker agrees to Alford plea

Aug. 23, 2013 @ 07:22 PM

Charles Edward “Chucky” Thomas was sentenced to 150 days in jail Thursday.

Thomas, 35, appeared in Vance County Superior Court before Judge Robert Hobgood. Thomas, accused of attacking Vance County Emergency Operations Director Brian Short, accepted a plea deal dropping reference to serious injury in the incident and admitting to assault with a deadly weapon.

Short, along with Vance County Sheriff Peter White, said in comments shortly after the incident they believed it to be a random act and not a connection to Short’s work as emergency services director.

Assistant District Attorney Allison Capps said Short was attacked after going out to his shed for some tools. Thomas was there to steal, she added, and the chance encounter turned violent.

Short “was in his shed for only a moment, then when he came out he was attacked,” Capps said.

“The struggle included laceration to Short’s arm or hand area, and Short also grabbed for the razor in Thomas’ hand, which caused additional injury to the hand.

“He grabbed the object from the attacker,” Capps said.

Scott Hamilton, Thomas’ defense attorney, said although his client expressed agreement with the plea offer, he still claimed it was not him.

“He has been adamant he was not involved with this,” Hamilton said. “I have to go by my better instincts and indicate my belief that he didn’t do this.”

Hobgood said he was not sure about the plea deal if there were any reservations about actual guilt.

“I don’t think I want to accept this plea,” Hobgood said.

Thomas said he was serving time on another matter, then he would be facing jail on $40,000 bond. He expressed a desire to be done with the case and any consequences as soon as possible.

Hobgood endorsed the verdict of guilt in keeping with provisions of an Alford plea, a U.S. Supreme Court decision giving defendants the right to accept guilt based on evidence while maintaining their innocence as a matter of record in the case.

Hobgood ruled Thomas would serve the 150 days at the conclusion of an 11-month prison term for a Nov. 25 charge for possession of stolen goods. He is scheduled for release Dec. 2.

Thomas received 42 days credit for time served awaiting trial.

Thomas was arrested the morning after the incident, at about 5:30, at 45 Spring Valley Road, Henderson.

State prison records indicated Thomas had been released July 18, 2012, from a sentence on an October 2011 fraud case. Thomas’ prior record includes convictions on robbery, assault, larceny, vandalism, fraud, threats, eluding arrest and resisting convictions dating back to 2006 in North Carolina.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.