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Column: Not in anyone’s back pocket
Martin Cahn (2019).jpg
Martin L. Cahn

Recently, a few people decided to really, really criticize my coverage of the release of Dani and C.W. Beebe on bond in connection with their murder charges for allegedly killing Adam Davis of Bethune.

These people did so on Facebook and not directly to me. I learned from a friend that the critcism had been leveled at me, so I went and took a look.

Despite the words stinging, I originally bit my proverbial tongue and let it go.

But such things end up tainting the work I do -- work that I am very careful about, so I decided to have my say.

First, one of these people decried my being part of the “Liberal Media” and that the “narrative” I wrote was what they had come to expect.

Well, yes, I am liberal -- except when it comes to the justice system. I happen to be rather aggressive when it comes to that and have, several times, bemoaned the light bonds or sentences granted by various judges.

When I have levied such criticism, I have done so either in this column or in an editorial I assisted in writing. I cannot levy -- not without documented data -- such criticism in a news story.

I can unequivocably state that I did not write my story about the Beebes’ bonds from a “liberal” point of view.

In writing that story, published May 17, I went back to the story I wrote for our Nov. 16, 2018, edition following the original hearing where Judge Allison Lee denied Dani and C.W.’s bonds. Did I condense things from Nov. 16 to May 17? Yes, I did -- as I often do when rewriting information from a previous article. The aim isn’t to reproduce the former article word for word, but to summarize to a degree so that a new reader to the story has background, but not bogging them down with all details.

In the article about the November 2018 hearing, I attributed to or directly quoted Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Justin Dill about what he and his fellow investigators were alledging happened to Davis.

During the course of Dill’s testimony, he talked about what Dani and/or C.W. Beebe said happened -- their claims about they did and what Davis did. That does not necessarily mean that investigators believed them. By the same token, it also doesn’t mean they were lying.

This is for a jury to decide, if this case goes to trial. All investigators can do is keep digging for evidence that, hopefully, will shine a light on the truth.

In both the original Nov. 2018 article and the new one a couple of weeks ago, I made sure to note that it was Dill’s testimony from the 2018 hearing that provided the Beebes’ claims and/or the evidence uncovered by the KCSO. Anything I wrote in either of those articles regarding those claims, accusations, etc., came directly from Dill’s testimony, either as quotes or attributions.

A critic claimed that Dill did not say some of the things I attributed to him or quoted him as saying -- that I had reported my personal opinions in at least one of the stories, if not both.

Now, I’m not going to sit here and say I didn’t make a mistake. I make mistakes every day. We all do. I do my best to fix them when they are pointed out to me. I have yet to have Dill or anyone else at the sheriff’s office correct my coverage. More importantly, I promise that nothing I reported on either Nov. 16 or May 17 was based on my personal opinion.

I have never done that, did not do so in these cases, and will never do that. I have worked extremely hard to keep my personal opinions to this column and off the front page and I believe I’ve succeeded for 18 years.

Why would I, anyway? I do not know the Beebes; I did not know Adam Davis.

Yes, I have my opinion about what happened at the end of December 2016, but I don’t know what happened. On Nov. 16, and again on May 17, I only wrote what I heard in court or could glean from official sources.

I’m still waiting to receive a transcript of the April 26 hearing that should provide some idea of why Judge Casey Manning granted bond for the Beebes earlier this month.

Another criticism was that I had forgotten who the actual victim was and that I was in one of the defendant’s attorney’s “back pocket.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. The last time I received a check from a lawyer’s office, it was from my own attorney back in 2013 or 2014 as part of a car accident settlement.

Moreover, the attorney I’m supposed to be being paid off by is someone I think I’ve only spoken to once or twice in my entire life and I suspect they barely know who I am.

It is important to me for you to know that you can trust my work. I know that there are a lot of emotions tied to this case. I completely understand. All I can tell you is that I will continue working hard to report the facts to the best of my ability, and that I am beholden to no one outside this newspaper.