Judge Bubba Griffith took the bond for Russell Dale Aiken, the man accused of beating Jason Bush to death in December, under advisement after hearing arguments from the state and Aiken’s attorney.
An emotional Aiken was represented by Townes Jones, who contended that Aiken was not a flight risk and that, despite a lengthy criminal history, Aiken was not a threat to society. Jones said that all but two of Aiken’s past charges were non-violent in nature. On one of the charges, an assault and battery, Jones said that the victim and long-time friend of Aiken’s, Jason Bush, was a co-defendant where Aiken and Bush were fighting together against other people.
Aaron Taylor presented the state’s case for the solicitor’s office. Taylor said that Aiken had two previous charges for failure to stop for a blue light, which indicated that Aiken could be a flight risk if released on bond. Taylor asked the judge to deny bond to Aiken.
Jones gave a history of some of Aiken’s medical problems, including a two-year battle with brain cancer which is now in remission. Jones also said that Aiken was taking klonopin, a drug prescribed for panic disorders and anxiety, at the time of the incident. Jones said that the drug was not supposed to be taken with alcohol, but that Aiken had been drinking heavily that night. Taylor said that the victim’s girlfriend gave a statement to investigators in which she said that Aiken would become violent when combining prescription medications with alcohol.
Aiken’s charges stem from a Dec. 22 incident in which he is accused of beating Bush while they were in a car travelling up Hwy. 25 N. Jones said Aiken was in the back seat behind the driver, but the state says that Aiken was directly behind the passenger seat. Both parties said that Bush was in the passenger seat of the vehicle. Both Aiken’s and Bush’s girlfriends were with the two men in the car.
Bush was unconscious when the car arrived at Aiken’s residence in Hodges. Aiken fled the scene, but was later caught by police. Bush was taken to Self Regional Medical Center and placed on life support following the incident, but died in the early morning hours of Dec. 23. The Greenwood County Coroner’s Office released a statement on Dec. 27 saying that an autopsy determined that Bush died as a result of strangulation and blunt force trauma to the head.
“This is a tragic incident no matter what the court decides,” Jones told the judge during the bond hearing. “(Aiken) in no way intended to kill Jason Bush. He had no motive. He had no intent.”
Taylor read aloud a letter from Bush’s mother, who did not appear at the bond hearing due to the “emotional stress” of making such an appearance. In the letter, Bush’s mother said that Aiken was a menace to society and should be kept in jail.
Judge Griffith said that he expected to make a ruling on Aiken’s bond Wednesday morning.