Joshua Caleb Kneece of Barnwell has never given his father any trouble, he testified Wednesday. He said his son was well-behaved from birth, and news of the 22-year-old being charged with burglary earlier this year was unreal.

It seemed true that Kneece was a novice criminal – why else would he and a co-defendant use the getaway vehicle that caused Judge Doyet “Jack” Early to double-take?

“Wait, wait a minute,” Early said. “The getaway vehicle was a lawn mower with a trailer behind it?”

“Yes sir,” said Assistant Solicitor Sam Grimes.

“Why were they so stupid that they were trying to get away on a lawn mower?” Early asked later.

Kneece was slowly fleeing the scene of the burglary on a trailer that was being pulled by a lawn mower, according to testimony during the plea hearing. They had stolen two firearms from a Windsor home, though one, a shotgun, was dropped as they tried to escape.

“This was kind of an ill-planned home burglary,” said Grimes.

After the lawn mower failed to help the pair escape, a phone call was made to a third party. That person arrived in car and the three tried to leave. However, the car was almost immediately stopped by law enforcement.

“This is kind of a familiar story,” defense attorney Michael Routzong told the court. Routzong was not referring to the unusual getaway, but rather the motivations behind the burglary. The idea was to steal the guns and sell them, so the offenders could buy a controlled substance, according to testimony.

Kneece was sentenced to eight years in prison, suspended upon the completion of three days in jail, five years probation and 100 hours of community service.

Man comes to court under the influence

Terry C. L. Cadden of Aiken has had more than his fair share of run-ins with the law. The former Savannah River Site carpenter has faced charges of violent crimes, property crimes and drug crimes. He is currently facing trial on one of his two outstanding cases for criminal domestic violence being made against him. However, this time he is feeling the wrath of the judge before his trial starts.

Cadden came in front of Circuit Court Judge Doyet “Jack” Early on Monday, looking to move his trial from this term of court to November. But before that could be argued, something in the defendant's demeanor caused the judge to question his sobriety.

“Are you gonna pass a drug test today?” Early asked.

“No, sir,” Cadden responded, later saying that he had used marijuana.

“Well, lets see,” Early added.

Cadden was taken to the detention area off the courtroom and asked to submit to the test. He refused, directly defying Early's demand.

Wednesday, he was brought back in front of the court, though he had changed from Monday's neat work clothes into a Detention Center-issue jumpsuit. He had also agreed to the drug test, which would come to show he had perjured himself when he admitted to using only marijuana.

Cadden's test came back positive for amphetamines, benzodiazepine, marijuana and methamphetamine.

The defendant apologized and said that the illegal drugs were something that he had done very recently and he refused the test because he knew what the results would be.

Early granted the continuance and the case is set for the November trial calendar, though he left Cadden in no doubt that these actions would not be tolerated and that he would be tested again at the next court date.

“He perjured himself once, already,” Early said.

“You are skating on thin ice,” Early said. “You came in hear messed up on all kind of stuff ... don't push me.”

Cadden is facing a charge of criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature.

Repeat criminal given 5 years for beer theft

A career criminal was sentenced to five years in prison Wednesday for stealing beer.

Henry Simmons, 41, has felonies against his name dating back 23 years, according to testimony at his plea hearing. Now, the shoplifter is starting a five-year sentence for stealing five cases of beer.

Simmons pleaded guilty to an enhanced shoplifting charge on Wednesday that can see the offender jailed for up to 10 years. The enhancement comes from previous convictions for the crime – of which Simmons has five.

The arrest for this crime came around 40 days after Simmons was released from jail on his last burglary conviction.

He has previous offenses that include assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, possession with intent to distribute cocaine within proximity of a school and several other drug charges.

On Aug. 19 this year, he was arrested after putting five cases of beer into a storage bin and then fleeing a Whiskey Road store. He was pursued by store security and then apprehended by Aiken Department of Public Safety officers.