From the Exclusive Series written by Paul Chesser and published by Carolina Plott Hound Images and story reprinted with permission.
Cole Lied? You Decide...
Johnston County vs. David 'Cole' Withrow - Part 1
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By Paul Chesser, August 20, 2013
In a case that gained attention through social media that spun into uncontainable national publicity, a misdemeanor plea and public apology have not ended a sharp, heated dispute between David "Cole" Withrow's family and his prosecutor.
A statement issued to the media, in which the high school senior (now a Liberty University freshman) confessed he was "not truthful" about bringing two unloaded shotguns to Princeton High School, was required by Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle as a condition for leniency. He was given a choice to agree to the press release - which was to include apologies to local public officials - and plead guilty to a misdemeanor, or else face a felony charge (maybe two), a potentially lengthy legal process, and possibly jail.
His friends had initiated a campaign to "Free Cole" (complete with a Twitter hashtag) that quickly grew and ultimately caught the notice, and sympathies, of conservative talk hosts including Glenn Beck and Mike Huckabee. As a result criticism rained upon Johnston County school board members and law enforcement over the perceived unfair treatment of Cole, when his supporters said all he did was commit an honest mistake, as they pointed towards Cole's character as a student and Eagle Scout.