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.
Lutavious Bernard Elmore, 33, of 218 Spring Street, Laurens, was found guilty by a Laurens County jury of murder, first-degree burglary, and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime in connection to the brutal 2018 stabbing death of 28-year-old Sergio Lindsey. The seven-day jury trial, which started last Tuesday, marked the first criminal case called in the State of South Carolina since the COVID-19 shutdowns in mid-March of this year.
Following the jury’s deliberation of just about an hour, Circuit Judge Donald B. Hocker sentenced Elmore to a total of 55 years total in prison on the three charges. State law requires that a sentence for murder being carried out day-for-day, meaning Elmore will not be eligible for parole.
Elmore has several prior convictions dating back to 2004 of crimes including public disorderly conduct, strong arm robbery, malicious injury to property, and entering a premises after warning.
Pursuant to a detailed court plan developed by Judge Hocker, with the assistance of court staff and approved by S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Beatty, everyone present in the courtroom for the proceedings, including the jurors, were socially distanced and required to wear a mask. The only exceptions to the mask requirement were witnesses during their testimony on the witness stand and the attorneys while they were questioning witnesses or speaking on the record. The witness stand had three large plexiglass shields protecting the witness during testimony.
In October 2018, Elmore decided to go to the home of his ex-girlfriend after she did not answer several phone calls. At about 3 a.m., Elmore set off on a 45-minute walk from his sister’s apartment to the residence of his ex-girlfriend, Crystal Bluford, where he discovered her sleeping in bed with Lindsey, though both were fully clothed. Elmore admitted to watching the two sleep through the bedroom window for some time before he carefully removed his jacket and shoes and entered the home through an unlocked kitchen window.
Once he entered the home, Elmore proceeded to the master bedroom where he began assaulting Lindsey with a kitchen knife. The assault awakened Bluford. Bluford testified that she saw Elmore repeatedly stab Lindsey before fleeing the home. A forensic medical examination would later reveal that Elmore stabbed Lindsey 18 times.
After fleeing the home, Bluford ran and hid under a vehicle parked under a neighbor’s carport. Elmore found her there and threatened to kill her. Elmore told Bluford it was her fault that he killed Lindsey and forced her to help him clean up the crime scene and dispose of Lindsey’s body. During this time, Bluford was able to escape the home and call 911.
Elmore then doused the body with gasoline on the back patio and placed his clothes in a burn pile in a clearing behind the house. Investigators later found the smoldering pile of clothing, which had failed to burn completely. Elmore fled the scene and was apprehended later that morning at his sister’s residence. Elmore gave investigators various versions of events, beginning with a complete denial of any involvement and then ending with a claim of self-defense.
Deputy Solicitor Dale Scott and Assistant Solicitor Margaret Boykin presented the case for the State, with assistance from 8th Circuit Investigator Walter Bentley and Victim Advocates Joy Lindsay and Rhetta Smith.
Solicitor Stumbo praised the work of his staff along with Capt. Jared Hunnicutt, Sgt. Farrah Cook and Inv. Andrew Turner and of the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office in securing the conviction and lengthy prison sentence.
“I cannot say enough about the dedication and professionalism of our entire team, (Laurens County) Sheriff (Don) Reynolds’ crew, and all of the other agencies that worked on this case,” Solicitor Stumbo said following the sentencing. “That commitment and relentless pursuit of justice directly led to this conviction and some closure for the Lindsey family. I am pleased to know that the citizens of Laurens County can sleep easier tonight knowing a brutal killer like Lutavious Elmore is off the streets.”