Repeat offender gets maximum sentence after shooting at Abbeville deputy

MARK ALLEN SIMMONS

Abbeville, S.C.; March 13, 2019 – A repeat offender who shot at an Abbeville County deputy during a traffic stop will spend the next 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges related to the incident Wednesday afternoon at the Abbeville County Courthouse, 8th Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced.

Mark Allen Simmons, 31, pleaded guilty as charged to attempted murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime during the Wednesday afternoon plea proceeding. Circuit Judge R. Scott Sprouse then sentenced Simmons to 30 years in prison, the maximum allowable sentence for attempted murder under state law.

In December 2017, Abbeville County Deputy Tim Wright attempted to perform a traffic stop on a vehicle being driven erratically by Simmons along Highway 28 in Abbeville County. The vehicle immediately attempted to speed away. Simmons pulled the vehicle over to the side of the road and, as soon as the deputy’s vehicle came to a stop, he leaned out the driver’s side window and fired a shot with a long rifle at the deputy before speeding off once again. The shot hit the front of the patrol car near the top of the radiator, right in line with where Deputy Wright was seated in the patrol car.

Deputy Wright immediately began to give chase once more as the vehicle sped away. As the high-speed chase ensued, Simmons leaned out the driver’s window and fired a second shot while a female passenger, Crystal Weaghington, controlled the wheel of the vehicle as Simmons fired the weapon.  Weaghington pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to a felony last month and agreed to testify at trial for the State. She has not yet been sentenced on that charge.

As the pursuit continued through the northern part of Abbeville County, Simmons and Weaghington threw multiple items out of the sunroof the vehicle, including the rifle used by Simmons and a shotgun. Simmons nearly ran a school bus full of elementary-aged children off the road at one point. The bus driver skillfully drove the bus to safety and no children were harmed. Simmons then sped through a busy intersection without stopping just before deputies were able to end the pursuit by executing a “pit” maneuver. Simmons continued to violently resist arrest after he was taken into custody, telling deputies that he was mentally ill and had done “meth, marijuana, and flaaka” in the preceding hours.

Solicitor Stumbo and Assistant Solicitor Micah Black prepared the case for trial for the state, with assistance from 8th Circuit Investigator Chris Wilkie and Victim Advocate Sarah Parris. Simmons was represented by Janna Nelson of the 8th Circuit Public Defender’s Office.

Abbeville County Sheriff Ray Watson said he was thankful for the safety of his deputies and having a dangerous criminal off the streets.

“I am very glad that we were able to get this case resolved and get a dangerous individual off the streets for a long time,” Sheriff Watson said. “I hope that (Simmons) can get the help he needs while he is incarcerated so that he can be a better person in the future.”

Watson also had high praise for his deputies, particularly Deputy Wright, who was recently decorated for his actions at the S.C. Sheriff’s Association.

“I can’t say enough about the dedication of our deputies – especially Tim Wright – who do whatever is necessary to keep our community safe, often putting their lives on the line,” Watson said.

Solicitor Stumbo echoed that sentiment and reaffirmed his longstanding support of law enforcement.

“Firing a weapon at an officer who is just doing his job will not be tolerated,” Solicitor Stumbo said. “If Deputy Wright had been struck and killed by the bullets from Mark Simmons gun, we would be seeking the death penalty. By the grace of God that did not happen and Deputy Wright is still daily serving and keeping Abbeville families safe.  My staff and I will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our partners in law enforcement who man the thin blue line and keep our communities safe from violent criminals like Mark Simmons.”

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Solicitor’s Office distributes toys to local children in need

Greenwood, S.C.; December 20, 2018 – Eighth Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo on Thursday distributed toys to several local organizations to help needy children have a special Christmas in what has become one of the most beloved traditions in the 8th Judicial Circuit for both program participants and office staff, as well as the local partner nonprofit agencies who distribute the toys to families in need.

The annual tradition that began nearly two decades ago allows participants in diversion programs – such as Pretrial Intervention, Traffic Education Program, and Alcohol Education Program – to purchase Christmas gifts for needy children in lieu of a portion of their community service hours.

Being able to contribute to the lives of others in the community is an enriching experience for participants in diversion programs, according to PTI Director Dale Allen.

“One of my favorite parts of my job is watching people’s eyes light up when they find out they can help children need as part of their program,” Allen said. “It makes a difference in the life of a child and the life of a participant.”

Each year, Allen directs participants to start bringing the toys to the office at the beginning of September. They toys are placed around a tree in the office and the toys begin spilling out across the common area until they are collected by partners in each county who distribute the toys.

The Christmas toy program finds itself right in the crosshairs of Solicitor Stumbo’s mission to balance accountability and restorative justice, though, according to Solicitor Stumbo, it is not exactly the place one would expect to find thousands of dollars worth of toys and over 20 bicycles.

“The Lord opens doors in the most interesting places,” Solicitor Stumbo said. “You wouldn’t think a prosecutor’s office would have the ability to collect so many toys, but every year we have the privilege to distribute them across our circuit and see those in need blessed through it. This is one of the best things we get to do every year.”

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Greenwood gang member sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole

ZANTRAVIOUS HALL

Greenwood, S.C.; November 30, 2018 – Eighth Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced Friday that a member of Greenwood’s Eastside Gang was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2017 killing of a 23-year-old Greenwood man. Continue reading

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Solicitor announces mentorship program addition to Veterans Court

PHOTO CUTLINE: Pictured from left to right are VA Veterans Justice Outreach Coordinator Sara Morrell, Veterans Court Director Jami Steifle, 8th Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo, Veterans Affairs Officer Carey Bolt, VFW Post 8131 Commander Mike Sudik, and VFW Post 8131 Adjutant John Penman.

Greenwood, S.C.; November 9, 2018 – As the nation prepares to honor and celebrate its veterans on Veterans Day, 8th Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo on Friday announced a new Veterans Court program component aimed at helping veterans obtain the help they need to battle issues such as substance abuse, mental health and other issues unique to veterans. Continue reading

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Greenwood drug dealer receives consecutive sentences for assaulting officers

TALLAH L. EISON

Greenwood, S.C.; November 9, 2018 – Eighth Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced Friday that a Greenwood drug dealer received consecutive sentences after he assaulted two agents with the Greenwood County Drug Enforcement Unit while being arrested on drug charges. Continue reading

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Greenwood man sentenced to 37 years in prison for domestic homicide

CLINTON ANTHONY SMITH

Laurens, S.C.; October 22, 2018 – A Greenwood man was sentenced to 37 years in prison Monday after pleading guilty to the 2017 murder of his estranged wife. Continue reading

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Greenwood domestic abuser sentenced to 18 years in prison

STAVALYON TURNER

Greenwood, S.C.; October 5, 2018 – A Greenwood man will spend the next 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges stemming from a June 2017 domestic assault, 8th Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced Friday.

Stavalyon Amane Turner, 35, pleaded guilty Thursday at the Greenwood County Courthouse to charges of domestic violence, high and aggravated in nature, and violation of protection order. After hearing presentations by the state and the defense, Circuit Judge Frank Addy Jr. sentenced Turner to 18 years in prison.

On June 24, 2017, deputies responded to the victim’s residence where she told them that Turner had assaulted her and bitten off a chunk of her upper lip. Investigators later located the piece of the victim’s lip on her bed. The victim was taken to the Emergency Care Center at Self Regional Medical Center to receive treatment for her sever injuries, which included multiple surgeries.

Turner had committed prior domestic assaults involving one other victim and the current victim, which resulted in the order of protection that was in place at the time of the June 2017 incident.

Solicitor Stumbo and Assistant Solicitor Carson Penney handled the case for the state. Turner was represented by Michael Gambrell of the Greenville County Bar.

Solicitor Stumbo praised the work of his staff along with the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office in securing the conviction and lengthy prison sentence.

“It is extremely disappointing that Stavalyon Turner refused to take advantage of the multiple opportunities to succeed given by the people closest to him, including the victims of his assaults,” Solicitor Stumbo said following the proceeding. “It is unacceptable for a man treat a woman in such a manner, and we will continue to be relentless in our fight to protect victims of domestic violence.  Our state has made great strides in recent years to attack this issue, and I hope that this conviction and sentence only furthers the resolve to continue to pursue domestic abusers and bring them to justice.”

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Greenwood man sentenced to 100 months for possessing a firearm

Columbia, South Carolina — United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon stated today that Tramain R. Anderson, 28, of Greenwood, was sentenced to 100 months in prison after pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g).  United States District Judge Bruce Howe Hendricks, of Charleston, sentenced Anderson and imposed a three-year term of supervised release.

Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that on July 12, 2017, the Greenwood City Police Department received a report that a young woman was possibly being abused at a local motel.  Officers went to Room 207, knocked, and encountered Anderson.  Police smelled marijuana and Anderson admitted that he had just smoked a joint.  The drug evidence gave police probable cause to search the room.  Upon entering the room, they located  a young female occupant who said she was being held against her will and that she had been beaten by Anderson. She explained that Anderson had a gun and that it was in Anderson’s personal bag sitting on the bed.  In the bag, the officers found a Taurus .38 caliber revolver that was fully loaded.

In consultation with local authorities, the U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed to prosecute Anderson for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The case was investigated by agents of the Greenwood City Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Bill Watkins of the Greenville office handled the case.

This case is part of a joint federal, state and local Project CeaseFire initiative, which aggressively prosecutes firearm cases. Project CeaseFire is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that has been historically successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made turning the tide of rising violent crime in America a top priority. In October 2017, as part of a series of actions to address this crime trend, Attorney General Sessions announced the reinvigoration of PSN and directed all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to develop a district crime reduction strategy that incorporates the lessons learned since PSN launched in 2001.

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Abbeville rapist sentenced to 25 years in prison

Abbeville, S.C.; September 7, 2018 – An Abbeville man will spend the next 25 years in prison after being convicted Thursday afternoon of a violent 2017 sexual assault, 8th Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced Friday.

Lawrence Alando Postell, 35, was found guilty by an Abbeville County jury of first-degree burglary, second-degree criminal sexual conduct, first-degree assault and battery, and kidnapping following a three-day trial at the Abbeville County Courthouse. The jury deliberated about two hours before returning the guilty verdicts.

Circuit Judge Frank Addy Jr. then sentenced Postell to 25 years in prison on the charge of first-degree burglary as well as on the charge of kidnapping, 20 years in prison on the charge of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, and 10 years on the charge of first-degree assault and battery. Judge Addy ordered all sentences to run concurrently.

In the early morning hours of May 5, 2017, Postell forcibly entered the victim’s Calhoun Falls home. Postell brutally beat and raped the victim. The victim was able to escape following the assault and a neighbor called police. When police found her, she was badly beaten and completely naked. Officers took the victim to the hospital where a rape kit was completed by a doctor. The doctor, who was qualified as an expert witness, testified that it was the most brutal rape case he had ever seen.

Assistant Solicitor Micah Black and Deputy Solicitor Demetri Andrews handled the case for the state, along with 8th Circuit Investigator Chris Wilkie and Victim Advocate Sarah Parris.

Solicitor Stumbo praised the work of his staff along with Sgt. Jeffrey Hines, Victim Advocate Monique Bell and all the deputies of the Abbeville County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the medical professionals who treated the victim, in securing the conviction.

“Lawrence Postell is a dangerous, violent criminal,” Solicitor Stumbo said following the sentencing. “It is beyond the realm of comprehension to most citizens of our circuit that attacks this vicious can actually happen because it defies any sense of moral decency. My office will continue to be the voice of these victims in the courtroom and will fight tooth and nail to see justice done.”

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Laurens child predator sentenced to 25 years in prison

James Redd stands with his attorney, Billy Long during a Thursday afternoon plea proceeding at the Laurens County Courthouse.

Laurens, S.C.; August 30, 2018 – Eighth Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced Thursday that a Laurens child predator was sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to assaulting three girls under the age of 9 over a period of about a year.

James Edward Redd Jr., 31, pleaded guilty to charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, and two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor during a Thursday afternoon plea proceeding at the Laurens County Courthouse.

Circuit Judge Frank Addy Jr. sentenced Redd to 25 years in prison on the charge of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, 20 years in prison on the charge of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, and 15 years in prison on each charge of third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor. Redd must serve a minimum of 85 percent of the 25-year sentence.

Judge Addy also issued three permanent restraining orders for Redd on the three minor victims in the case.

In October 2017, Redd’s then girlfriend suspected Redd of infidelity and began searching through his phone. She found a sexually explicit video depicting Redd with a child under the age of 5 who lived in the home. Redd’s girlfriend immediately notified authorities who then obtained a search warrant for Redd’s phone. On the phone, investigators found more video and picture evidence of Redd molesting two other children under the age of 9.

Investigators spoke with Redd and Redd admitted to committing the acts. Redd confessed to investigators that that he had been smoking marijuana and watching pornography, prompting him to begin acting out fantasies he had in his head.

Solicitor Stumbo handled the case for the state with the assistance of Assistant Solicitor Julie Kate Keeney and Victim Advocate Rhetta Christian. Redd was represented by Billy Long of the Greenville County Bar.

Solicitor Stumbo praised the work of his staff along with Inv. Jared Hunnicutt and Dep. Logan Kanipe of the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office in securing the conviction and lengthy prison sentence. Deputy Kanipe was with the Laurens Police Department at the time of the investigation.

“Our society has no room for sick sexual predators like James Redd, who exploit children for their own pleasure,” Solicitor Stumbo said following the sentencing. “I am glad that we were able to secure justice for these young victims without them having to relive the horror of the abuse in court. We will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with law enforcement to pursue predators like James Redd and fight for our children.”

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