Sabrina Thompson, The Observer

The plea hearing for Ronald D. Lee has been rescheduled once more, this time as a result of a motion by Lee’s attorney, Dean Gushwa, to have the state prove why he is being held without bail. This is also to allow more time for discovery to provide ballistics information.

Lee’s defense requested that the usual five-day time limit for the new hearing be waived, which the court granted. The new court date has been set for Aug. 27 at 2 p.m. at the Union County Circuit Court, at which time the state will attempt to prove that Lee meets the criteria to be held without bail, and Lee will enter a plea.

Lee, 71, was charged with the murder and conspiracy to commit the murder of his soon-to-be ex-wife, Loretta Williams, in November 2018. He is accused of having shot and killed Williams at her Cove home after she called 911 about a man in her yard. Dispatchers overheard a confrontation and a loud noise before losing contact with her. When officers arrived they found Williams dead of one or more apparent gunshot wounds, The Observer previously reported.

Lee has been in custody at Union County Jail since his arrest Feb. 21 and will remain there during the duration of his trial, if he is not granted bail at the next hearing. His case has seen multiple plea hearings extensions following his March arraignment. The first plea hearing, in April, was pushed to June. The June hearing for a plea was pushed to July, which has once again been pushed to August. In all three extensions, evidence review has been cited as the reason for the request to wait to enter a plea.

Steve Hamilton, now 66, who was also arrested in late February and is facing charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder, is awaiting a possible settlement. Hamilton has a settlement conference Sept. 27 that is not open to the public. The conference will allow parties and a judge to determine if a settlement is possible without anything being legally binding. If he does settle then Hamilton’s case will be dismissed and he will only be subject to the consequences laid out in the agreement made.

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