SC Court of Appeals considering arguments in case of man accused of kidnapping, murdering Aynor teen in 2013

SC Court of Appeals considering arguments in case of man accused of kidnapping, murdering Aynor teen in 2013
Left: Christopher Brown; Right: Javon Gibbs

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – More than 18 months after a judge granted a motion to suppress evidence in the case of one of the men charged in the 2013 kidnapping and murder of 19-year-old Zachary Malinowski, a trial has still not taken place.

On Aug. 30, 2017, Horry County Judge Larry Hyman granted a motion filed by defendant Javon Gibbs’ attorney to suppress phone records, according to court documents. That order was filed on Sept. 5, 2017.

The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office immediately appealed, and the two sides have been presenting arguments as to why the decision should or should not be overturned.

On March 5, the attorney general’s office presented its final argument to the S.C. Court of Appeals asking that Hyman’s decision be reversed.

According to court records, the attorney general argues the investigator “objectively acted in good faith” by showing he had a “reasonable basis in believing a search of Gibbs’ phone would produce evidence that the victim was kidnapped.”

Days later, on March 8, the defense filed its final brief to the court, stating “the well-reasoned ruling by the trial court in this case … should be affirmed.”

A ruling has not been made on these arguments.

According to police, in the early hours of Aug. 26, 2013, Gibbs and another suspect, Christopher Brown, abducted Malinowski from his home and took him to the western portion of Horry County, where he was killed.

Brown’s case has not yet been scheduled for trial.

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