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Magistrate drops murder charge in death of elderly Westminster man

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Deputies with the Oconee County Sheriff's Office said they found Marszalek, 61, dead under the remains of a home on West Spearman Road in Westminster. (Source: Oconee Co. Sheriff's Office) Deputies with the Oconee County Sheriff's Office said they found Marszalek, 61, dead under the remains of a home on West Spearman Road in Westminster. (Source: Oconee Co. Sheriff's Office)
WESTMINSTER, SC (FOX Carolina) -

There's a major twist in an Upstate homicide case after a judge dropped a man's murder charge.

Oconee County Magistrate Will Derrick dropped the murder charge against Patrick Covone on Friday during his preliminary hearing. Solicitor Chrissy Adams said Judge Derrick did this based on testimony at the hearing. Adams said on Friday afternoon the Oconee County Sheriff's Office signed a warrant for accessory after the fact of murder.

Covone is one of three men accused of killing Richard Marszalek back in December. His body was found under rubble of his burned home along West Spearman Road in January. Investigators say his home was burned down on Jan. 4, 2013.

FOX Carolina talked to Marszalek's niece by phone who said the family is outraged by Derrick's decision to drop the murder charge against Covone.

"We were absolutely devastated. We cannot believe that if you participate in murder - whether or not you strike the fatal blow, even if you're a participant and you have ample time and opportunity to stop it - you would not be charged with murder," said Valerie Marszalek.

Adams said they considering going to a grand jury for a murder indictment on Covone - something his family says they want to see happen.

"We would absolutely like to see it go to the grand jury based on the facts of the case," Marszalek said.

Joshua Fulbright and Zach Patterson are also charged in Marszalek's homicide.

Another preliminary hearing is scheduled for mid-March.

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