WILMINGTON — A man charged with the murder of a missing Wilmington woman appeared in court Thursday morning.
William Haven Hicks, 26, of South Carolina, is being held in Myrtle Beach while awaiting extradition to Wilmington. He is charged with first-degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon and kidnapping in connection to the disappearance of KC Lee Johnson, who went missing Friday, Jan. 13.
READ MORE: Missing person case ends in murder charge
The Wilmington Police Department suspects she met Hicks on social media; she was killed on the 1300 block of King Street.
Thursday morning, Hicks, clad in an orange jumpsuit, cuffed and feet shackled, sat with his legs crossed, often yawning and his head bowed during his first appearance in a South Carolina courtroom. He listened as Chief Municipal Judge Joi Page read his rights.
“You’ve been charged out of North Carolina and what I have is a fugitive warrant,” she said.
The warrant was issued Wednesday. Page recounted Hicks was listed in the National Crime database and wanted by the WPD. Myrtle Beach police detained him.
“I’m not here this morning to try your case or take a guilty plea from you; I don’t have jurisdiction to do those things. I’m just here to discuss the future of work with you and determine if a bond will be set,” Page said.
Yet, because the WPD has Hicks on first-degree murder charges in North Carolina, the South Carolina judge said she could not set a bond.
“I would have to send you up to a higher court,” Page noted.
Instead, she focused the hearing on extradition, as Hicks will be prosecuted by District Attorney Ben David of New Hanover County once he returns to the state and is served warrants by WPD.
Page presented the option for Hicks to either fight extradition or waive his rights to a hearing.
“Fighting extradition is my choice,” he said.
That option could keep him in South Carolina longer and hold up the process. The judge explained the bond still has to be set — or denied — by a higher court and he would remain in jail until that step happens.
“North Carolina will still be able to coordinate when they may be able to pick you up, once an extradition hearing is held,” she added. “Whether you’re in a jail here or in a jail in North Carolina, this will delay the possibility of you having a bond hearing.”
“I’d like to understand how waiving extradition might change my circumstances,” Hicks responded.
Page told him a bond hearing would likely happen more quickly by waiving the extradition hearing. Once waiving that happens, North Carolina law enforcement have 20 days to pick up Hicks or he will be released.
“Bond is not meant to punish you,” she said while reading his rights at the onset of the hearing, “it’s meant to make sure that you appear when you’re required to and to safeguard the public until the charges are disposed of. You have rights afforded to you under the Constitution.”
Hicks changed his mind to waiving his rights for extradition but not before asking: “So if I waive extradition, that 20-day period goes into effect?”
“Yes, sir,” the judge answered.
“I’d like to waive extradition,” he said.
WPD spokesperson Brandon Shope told PCD Thursday morning there are many “moving parts” in bringing someone back to the jurisdiction. “We do not have an exact time right now,” he wrote in an email. “He will be here within 20 days.”
The assistant to district attorney, Samantha Dooies, wrote to PCD that other measures could impact the procedure.
“He has a pending charge in South Carolina that will affect his release from that state,” she noted.
Hicks has a lengthy record in Myrtle Beach dating back over the last four years, according to public records gathered by PCD’s media partner WECT. Below are charges the outlet obtained from the Myrtle Beach Police Department.
- Feb. 6, 2018: charged with misdemeanor 3rd degree assault and battery
- Feb. 7, 2018: charged with misdemeanor 3rd degree assault and battery
- It’s not clear if these two arrests are related to the same incident, but the charges have different case numbers, arrest numbers and arresting officers
- Sept. 27, 2018: charged with misdemeanor loiter-harmful purpose or effect
- Nov. 10, 2018: charged with felony ill treatment of animals, torture
- Dec. 6, 2018: charged with felony 1st degree burglary (after June 20, 1985)
- Jan. 5, 2021: charged with three counts of misdemeanor malicious injury to animals, personal property $2k or less
- Jan. 13, 2021: charged with misdemeanor trespassing / unlawful entry into enclosed places
- Jan. 17, 2023: charged with misdemeanor fugitive from justice warrant, non-criminal hold fug. ma
- The cited statute is SC 17-09-0010, which concerns extradition
Dooies said the DA’s office couldn’t make any further comments due to it being a pending case and ongoing investigation by WPD.
The local police department is also coordinating with Chatham County police in Georgia. Remains were found near a sugar refinery Wednesday, having washed up in the Savannah River.
“At this time, we are working with them to determine whether or not this is our missing person,” Shope said. “We may not know until the full autopsy report comes back.”
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