Laurens County killer sentenced to 55 years in prison for 2018 stabbing

LUTAVIOUS DENARD ELMORE

Laurens, S.C.; August 12, 2020 – A Laurens County man will spend the next 55 years in prison after a jury found him guilty late Tuesday evening of a home invasion and brutal 2018 stabbing death of another Laurens County man, 8th Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced Wednesday morning.

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Laurens drug trafficker sentenced to 15 years behind bars

Zachary Strange

Laurens, S.C.; June 18, 2020 – Eighth Circuit Solicitor David Stumbo announced Thursday that a Gray Court man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in trafficking methamphetamine in Laurens County. 

Zachary Strange, 21, of Gray Court, pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges of trafficking methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute (PWID) methamphetamine, and possession of a stolen vehicle. 

Strange was sentenced to 15 years in prison by Circuit Court Judge Donald Hocker as part of a plea agreement.  Due to the nature of the charges, Strange will be required to serve 85% of his sentence before being eligible for release.

The first incident occurred in August 2018.  Officers were conducting an undercover narcotics operation in Laurens.  During the operation, Strange was arrested with 9.87 grams of Methamphetamine in his possession.

In May 2019, while out on bond for the first arrest, Strange was driving a vehicle that was reported stolen out of Greenville County.  Strange bailed out of the vehicle when pursued by deputies, who discovered 211 grams of meth in the abandoned car.  Strange was found by the deputies a short time later and taken into custody.

Senior Assistant Solicitor Wade Dowtin prosecuted the case, with assistance from 8th Circuit Solicitor’s Office Investigator Walter Bentley.  Strange was represented by Deputy Public Defender Chelsea McNeill.

Solicitor Stumbo also praised the work of narcotics investigators Charles Nations and Matt Veal, as well as fellow deputies from Laurens County Sheriff’s Office in helping secure the conviction in the case. 

“Hard street-level drugs like meth, heroin, and fentanyl are taking a wrecking ball to our communities in Laurens County,” said Solicitor Stumbo after the hearing.  “Anyone who profits from the trafficking of these drugs must be stopped and held accountable, and we hope that this long sentence sends a message to those who are committing these crimes before it is too late for them.”

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Child molester sentenced to 20 years in prison

JOSHUA J. JENNINGS

A Greenwood man will spend the next two decades behind bars after pleading guilty Tuesday afternoon to several charges stemming from incidents in which he sexually abused and photographed girls under the age of 11.

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Serial abuser sentenced to max for latest domestic incident

JOHN HENRY DAVENPORT JR.

Newberry, S.C.; January 23, 2020 – A Newberry man will spend a decade behind bars after being convicted Thursday afternoon for the sixth time on a charge of domestic violence, 8th Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced. Continue reading

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Fountain Inn man sentenced to 27 years for stabbing girlfriend in domestic incident

QUIENTIN SPEARMAN

Laurens, S.C.; January 14, 2020 – A Fountain Inn man will spend the next 27 years in prison after pleading guilty Monday to a charge stemming from a 2018 incident in which he nearly killed his then-girlfriend with a box cutter, 8th Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced Tuesday. Continue reading

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Intoxicated driver sentenced to 16 years for fatal crash

KHELSY C. RICE

Greenwood, S.C.; December 21, 2019 – A Clinton woman will spend the next 16 years behind bars after pleading guilty Thursday to charges stemming from a fatal 2018 crash near the Dance South studio on Highway 76 between Clinton and Joanna, 8th Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced Saturday.

Khelsy Chanta Rice, 40, of Clinton, pleaded guilty Thursday afternoon at the Greenwood County Courthouse to two counts of felony DUI resulting in death and two counts of felony DUI with great bodily injury. With her case scheduled for trial during the next term of court for Laurens county, Rice chose to change her plea to guilty “straight up,” meaning there were no negotiations or recommendations on sentencing by the State.

Circuit Judge Thomas L. Hughston then sentenced Rice to 16 years in prison on each of the charges resulting in death and 10 years in prison on each of the charges resulting in great bodily injury, with the sentences to run concurrently. The maximum sentence in South Carolina for felony DUI resulting in death is 25 years in prison.

Just before midnight on May 19, 2018, Rice was driving a 2004 Taurus on US Highway 76 near Grain Bin Road when she veered across the centerline and struck a 2007 Ford Mustang head-on. Two passengers in the Mustang, 65-year-old Marge Seymore and 63-year-old Lois “Bit” King, both died as a result of the crash and two other passengers were airlifted to area hospitals to receive treatment for their injuries.  Rice’s blood toxicology results showed both high amounts of methamphetamine and trace amounts of alcohol at the time of the crash.

8th Circuit Special Prosecutor Knox McMahon and Assistant Solicitor Julie Kate Keeney handled the case for the state, with assistance from Victim Advocate Rhetta Christian. Rice was represented by Tristan Shaffer of the Public Defender’s Office.

Solicitor Stumbo praised the work of his staff along with the state Highway Patrol in securing the conviction and lengthy prison sentence.

“The irresponsible choices made by Khelsy Rice on that fateful night have left two families with voids that can never be filled,” Solicitor Stumbo said. “Although there is nothing that we can do in the courtroom to bring these beloved ladies back, my prayer is that their families have gained some closure and can continue to move forward in their healing process. We also hope during this holiday season that the message is heard loud and clear that, if you choose to drive while intoxicated, you will be held accountable.”

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Greenwood bank robber sentenced to 18 years in prison

WILLIAM B. ALEXANDER

Greenwood, S.C.; December 12, 2019 – A Troy man was sentenced Thursday to 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to the 2018 robbery of the Wells Fargo Bank in Uptown Greenwood, 8th Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced.

William Bryan Alexander, 50, of Troy, pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of entering a bank with intent to steal, first-degree assault and battery, and failure to stop for blue light. Circuit Judge Letitia Verdin then sentenced Alexander to 18 years in prison on the bank robbery charge, 10 years in prison on the assault charge, and three years in prison on the failure to stop charge. The sentences for assault and battery, as well as the failure to stop for a blue light, are the maximum allowed under state law. The bank robbery charge is considered a serious offense and Alexander must serve a minimum of 85 percent of the sentence before he can be considered for release.

At about 9:45 a.m. on November 15, 2018, Alexander walked into the Wells Fargo branch located at 105 Main Street in Uptown Greenwood and passed a note to the teller saying there was a bomb inside the bank and that he had the detonator. The teller handed over more than $6,000 before Alexander fled the bank.

Police were immediately dispatched and spotted Alexander in a black Toyota Highlander fleeing the scene. Alexander led police on a chase down Cambridge Avenue and onto Old Ninety Six Highway where Alexander intentionally rammed a police vehicle multiple times, once directly in the driver’s side door. Alexander was eventually located and arrested at a residence on Reedy Creek Road.

Deputy Solicitor Yates Brown handled the case for the State, with assistance from 8th Circuit Investigator Windy Chappell. Alexander was represented by Walt Whitmire of the Greenwood Public Defender’s Office.

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

 “William Alexander took a beautiful Fall morning in Uptown Greenwood and turned it into one of chaos and fear.  We are blessed that this incident did not end with anyone involved being seriously hurt or killed,” Solicitor Stumbo said following the plea proceeding. “My office will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with law enforcement to do everything in our power to keep our community safe.”

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Upstate drug trafficker sentenced to 25 years in prison

KENNETH E. MCGILL

Abbeville, S.C.; November 7, 2019 – An Iva man will spend the next 25 years behind bars after an Abbeville County jury found the man guilty on one count of trafficking methamphetamine, 8th Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced Wednesday.

Kenneth Earle McGill, 67, was found guilty of trafficking methamphetamine, 100-200 grams, late Wednesday afternoon following a two-day trial at the Abbeville County Courthouse. Circuit Judge Donald Hocker then sentenced McGill to 25 years in prison. The crime is considered violent under state law and McGill will have to serve a minimum of 85 percent of the sentence before being considered for parole. McGill has at least two prior convictions for distributing methamphetamines.

In August 2018, deputies with the Abbeville Narcotics Task Force joined agents with the state Department of Probation, Pardon, and Parole Services in conducting a home visit at a residence in Abbeville County. Once there, deputies arranged to meet two men at the residence to buy methamphetamines. One of the men, McGill, arrived with over 115 grams of methamphetamine and nearly $14,000 in cash.

Senior Assistant Solicitor Micah Black and Deputy Solicitor Yates Brown handled the case for the state with assistance from 8th Circuit Investigator Chris Wilkie. McGill was represented by Norman Epps of the Anderson County Bar.

Solicitor Stumbo praised the work of his staff along with the Abbeville Narcotics Task Force, particularly Capt. Matthew Graham, Lt. Jeffrey Hines, Sgt. Joshua Monts, and Inv. Duane Balchin, in securing the conviction and lengthy prison sentence.

“We have seen too often and for far too long the disastrous effects meth has on people, on families, and on communities,” Solicitor Stumbo said. “My office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to get dangerous drug dealers like Kenneth McGill off the streets and in prison where they belong.”

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Woman sentenced to 22 years in DUI crash that killed Laurens farmer

TARA ANN MAHAN

Greenwood, S.C.; October 29, 2019 – A Fountain Inn woman was sentenced Monday to 22 years in prison after pleading guilty to a felony DUI charge stemming from a June 2018 crash in Laurens County, 8th Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced Tuesday morning.

Tara Ann Mahan, 35, pleaded guilty late Monday to one count of felony DUI resulting in death and one count of possession of methamphetamine. Circuit Judge Frank Addy Jr. then sentenced Mahan to 22 years in prison on the felony DUI charge and three years on prison on the drug possession charge with the sentences to run concurrently.

In June 2018, Mahan was traveling along S.C. 308 near Fleming Mill Road at about 2:15 p.m. when she struck a tractor from behind causing it to overturn. Her vehicle then ran off the left side of the road and struck a tree. The tractor was being driven by 29-year-old Wesley Robinson. Robinson was pronounced dead at the scene. A toxicology test showed Mahan had both methamphetamines and marijuana present in her system at the time of the crash.

Deputy Solicitor Warren Mowry and Assistant Solicitor Wade Dowtin handled the case for the state with assistance from 8th Circuit Investigator Walter Bentley and Victim Advocate Rhetta Christian. Mahan was represented by Tristan Shaffer of the Laurens Public Defender’s Office.

Solicitor Stumbo praised the work of his staff along with the state Highway Patrol in securing the conviction and lengthy prison sentence.

“It is devastating to think about this hard-working young man being senselessly killed on our roads during the middle of the day by an intoxicated and completely unproductive young woman like Tara Mahan,” Solicitor Stumbo said. “It is my hope and prayer that Wesley Robinson’s family and friends can gain some sense of closure today.”

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Child sex abuser sentenced to 22 years in prison

Joshua Eric Parham, right, stands with his attorney Charles Grose during a plea proceeding at the Greenwood County Courthouse.

Greenwood, S.C.; October 23, 2019 — Eighth Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced Wednesday that a Greenwood man will spend more than two decades in prison after being convicted of sexually assaulting a girl under the age of 13.

Joshua Eric Parham, 37, pleaded guilty Tuesday afternoon at the Greenwood County Courthouse to two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor. Circuit Judge Donald Hocker sentenced Parham to 15 years in prison on one count and seven years in prison on the second count, with the sentences to run consecutively. The crimes are considered violent under state law, making Parham ineligible for parole or early release.  Parham decided to change his plea to guilty as the case was scheduled to be called for trial by 8th Circuit prosecutors next week.

Parham was initially arrested in 2016 when the victim reported that Parham had sexually abused her on multiple occasions in different locations over a period of three years.  Parham was scheduled to appear in court in March of this year but failed to appear on the day his trial was scheduled to begin.  It was later determined that Parham cut off his ankle monitor, which he was required to wear as a condition of bond, and fled to Alabama.  In April, Alabama law enforcement officers apprehended Parham and held him in custody until he could be extradited back to South Carolina to await his new trial date this month.

Assistant Solicitor Anna Sumner and Deputy Solicitor Yates Brown handled the case for the state, with assistance from 8th Circuit Investigator Windy Chappell. Parham was represented by Charles Grose of the Greenwood County Bar.

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

“I am extremely proud of the relentless work put in by my staff and our law enforcement partners to make sure this child abuser is removed from our community and in prison for many years to come, while also not subjecting this young victim to taking the stand at trial,” Solicitor Stumbo said following the sentencing. “We will continue to prioritize and fight for victims of predators like Joshua Parham.”

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