OCONEE MAN SENTENCED TO 17 YEARS FOR KIDNAPPING AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

(Walhalla, SC) On Monday, July 26, 2021, after the jury had been seated and the trial was to begin, Tristan Young pled guilty to two violent crimes -Domestic Violence 1st Degree and Kidnapping.  The Honorable R. Scott Sprouse imposed a sentence of 17 years on Kidnapping and the maximum sentence of 10 years in prison on the Domestic Violence 1st Degree charge. The sentences are to be served concurrently.

Senior Assistant Solicitor Bethany Blundy presented the State’s case which occurred during the week of March 16 through March 20, 2020.  During the week-long episode, Young held the female victim against her will, duct taping her and shoving socks into her mouth to muffle her cries for help as he whipped her with a broomstick and burned her back.  The victim was finally able to text family members and tell them to call the police. A family member then went to the location and transported the victim to safety. She was seen at the ER where her injuries were treated. Oconee County Sheriff’s Officers Master Deputy Scealf, Deputy Trace Smith and Lt. Kevin Cain responded and investigated the case, arresting the defendant.

“Law enforcement’s quick response and investigation helped preserve vital information which led to the defendant’s arrest and conviction, allowing the victim in this case to see justice served,” stated Solicitor David Wagner.  

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Decota Castle Brown Found Guilty of Murder in Oconee County

After three days of testimony, an Oconee County jury found Decota Castle Brown guilty today in the death of his grandmother, Geraldine Castle, in March of 2019. The State was represented by Deputy Solicitor Jason Alderman and Sr. Assistant Solicitor Blair Stoudemire. The Honorable Perry Gravely sentenced Brown to 50 years for Murder, 15 years for Burglary 1st degree, and 5 years for Possession of a Weapon during the Commission of a Violent Crime, with each sentence to be served consecutively. The defendant will not be eligible for parole.

On March 7, 2019, the defendant, Decota Castle Brown, and an accomplice entered the home of Brown’s parents with the intent to commit a burglary and steal firearms. Upon finding Brown’s grandmother in the home, Brown shot her three times. Mrs. Castle died four days later as a result of the gunshot wounds. Mrs. Castle was 73 years old. Brown and his accomplice were arrested two days after the shooting.

After the trial, Solicitor David Wagner stated, “This was a brutal crime made even more so by the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator. We want to thank the Seneca Police Department for their investigation and the jury for bringing this man to justice.”

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REPEAT OFFENDER SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING AND PROPERTY OFFENSES

On Tuesday, May 25, 2021, after an Oconee County jury had been empaneled and his trial about to begin, 41 year old Derek Wayne Gibson of Westminster pled guilty to Trafficking Methamphetamine 2nd offense, Burglary 3rd degree, and Grand Larceny.  The Honorable R. Scott Sprouse imposed a sentence of 15 years.  Mr. Gibson will not be eligible for parole.

“Special thanks to the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and Assistant Solicitor Jason Alderman for their dedicated work in this case,” stated Solicitor David Wagner.  “Mr. Gibson is a repeat drug offender with an extensive criminal history.  My office will continue to focus on repeat offenders in our community and strive to ensure that such behavior will have substantial consequences.”

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PELFREY SENTENCED IN FELONY DUI CASE IN OCONEE

(Walhalla, SC). Mr. Robert Pelfrey plead guilty today to Felony Driving Under the Influence with Death and Grand Larceny.  He was sentenced by the Honorable Cordell Maddox to 15 years in prison on the Felony Driving Under the Influence with death and a consecutive 5 years in prison, suspended to 5 years’ probation on the Grand Larceny charge with court ordered restitution and drug/alcohol counseling.  He will not be eligible for parole.  The State was represented by Assistant Solicitor Bethany Blundy and the Defendant was represented by attorney David Plowden.

On March 16, 2019, Robert Pelfrey stole a car from a driveway in the City of Walhalla and proceeded to drive recklessly within the city while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.  He subsequently struck another vehicle carrying innocent bystanders, severely injuring the vehicle’s driver and causing the death of the passenger. 

Solicitor David Wagner said “Special thanks to the Walhalla Police Department for their quick response and thorough investigation that led to the defendant’s arrest and conviction in this case.  This is truly a senseless tragedy.  It is my only hope that the substantial prison sentence levied by Judge Maddox in this case will give the victim’s family some measure of peace and send a message to our community of the deadly consequences of driving under the influence.”

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REPEAT OFFENDER SENTENCED TO 25 YEARS FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING

On Tuesday, October 13th, an Oconee County jury deliberated less than one hour before convicting 41 year old Gary Martin Wirtz of Trafficking Methamphetamine 3rd offense and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.  The Honorable Letitia H. Verdin imposed a sentence of 25 years.  Mr. Wirtz will not be eligible for parole.

Wirtz’s charges stemmed from a July 2019 encounter with the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office where he was found to be in possession of methamphetamine, a loaded firearm, and drug paraphernalia.

“This was the first trial in the 10th Judicial Circuit that was authorized by South Carolina Court Administration since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March.  The Oconee County Clerk of Court’s Office worked tirelessly to ensure the safety of all parties so that this trial could proceed,” stated Solicitor David Wagner.  “Special thanks to the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office for their hard work in this case.  Mr. Wirtz is a career criminal and repeat drug offender.  Today’s sentence sends a strong message to repeat offenders in our community that their behavior has serious consequences.”

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MERRIWEATHER SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS IN PRISON

Kelvin Merriweather pled guilty to ABHAN in front of the Honorable J. Cordell Maddox, Jr. and received a sentence of 20 years provided upon the service of 10 years active time and followed by 5 years of probation.  The defendant will receive credit for the 404 days he has already served in jail.   Assault and Battery of High and Aggravated Nature is classified as both a Violent and Serious offense, and is not parole eligible. 

This charge originated on November 18, 2018 when the victim was leaving her home in her vehicle and she was approached by the defendant in this case.  They had never met before this incident.  The defendant told the victim he was looking for her husband.  He asked her to call her husband for him, which she did, but her husband did not answer the phone.  The defendant then became agitated and began to reach into the victim’s vehicle.  The victim put her vehicle in reverse and accelerated toward the roadway, but the defendant began to fire at her vehicle, striking her in her right hand and injuring her.  The victim then drove herself to the hospital.  She identified the defendant in a 6 person photo lineup and following his arrest the defendant confessed to the incident.  All of this occurred within Anderson County. 

Investigator Kenny Pigman with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office headed this investigation, and Senior Assistant Solicitor Lauren Davis Price handled the proceedings in Court for the State. 

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DRUG TRAFFICKER SENTENCED TO 12 YEARS IN PRISON IN ANDERSON

Anderson SC– Yesterday, in Anderson County General Sessions Court, Nancy Elaine Carswell was sentenced to 12 years in prison for charges she was tried and convicted of in her absence on October 29, 2019. A jury found her guilty of Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine. She did not appear for her trial and a bench warrant was issued for her arrest. Carswell was picked up on that bench warrant on November 20th. Judge Cordell Maddox’s sentence was sealed at that time until yesterday when the sentence was unsealed and Carswell learned she would be spending the next 12 years in South Carolina Department of Corrections. 

Her co-defendant, Roy Cecil Walters, had previously entered a guilty plea to the charge of Trafficking Methamphetamine between 28 and 100 grams on August 22, 2019.  At that time Judge Scott Sprouse sentenced Walters to 10 years in the South Carolina Department of Corrections.

The charges stemmed from an incident on March 12, 2018. Following a tip from an anonymous source, the ACSO Special Investigations Division conducted surveillance and executed a search warrant at 205 Fairlane Drive in Anderson. During the surveillance operation officers observed Roy Cecil Walters meeting with a female in a black BMW at the Watson Village Shopping Center. Walters then led the female back to 205 Fairlane Drive where she delivered a quantity of methamphetamine to Nancy Elaine Carswell. Officers observed the female leaving the home and stopped her vehicle for failing to maintain lane. Inside the car, investigators found $40,000 and a small quantity of methamphetamine. She told officers that she had had been contacted by Carswell and that Carswell sent Walters to meet her in order to lead her to the home where Carswell was staying. She also told officers that she had just sold approximately 80 grams of methamphetamine to Carswell. Upon receiving this information, investigators obtained a search warrant for the home and found Carswell and Walters in possession of a total of 140.22 grams of methamphetamine. Both were charged with Trafficking Methamphetamine between 100 and 200 grams. 

This investigation was led by Detective Andre Acevedo with support from all members of SID. The case was prosecuted by Tenth Circuit Assistant Solicitors Chelsey Hucker and Mary Holahan. 

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SLUDERS SENTENCED IN SEX ABUSE CASE

WALHALLA, SC–On December 16, 2019, Anthony Hugh Sluder, age 67, of Westminster, pled guilty to 5 counts of  Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor Second Degree and 5 counts of Incest.  He was sentenced by the Honorable Cordell Maddox to 25 years.

On December 18, 2019, his wife, Edna Sluder, age 56, pled guilty to 5 counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor Second Degree and 5 counts of Incest.  She was sentenced by the Honorable Cordell Maddox to 20 years.

In December of 2018, a male relative of the couple came forward to the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and recounted years of sexual abuse at the hands of the Sluders during the 2000’s timeframe.  He reported repeated, continuous abuse by both Mr. and Mrs. Sluder, acting together, over multiple years during his early adolescence.  When confronted by law enforcement, both Mr. and Mrs. Sluder confessed to repeatedly sexually abusing the boy.  They recounted using sexual abuse as a form of punishment for not completing things such as ordinary household chores, referring to the punishment as “naked sessions.”  Mrs. Sluder also expressed the couple’s belief that sexual education should begin in the home.

Solicitor David R. Wagner said “The crimes perpetrated by Anthony and Edna Sluder are some of most disturbing that I have seen during the course of my prosecutorial career.  The victim in this case has suffered immensely and I hope this resolution will provide some measure of justice for him.  Anthony and Edna Sluder deserve every day in prison that they received.”

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REYNOLDS SENTENCED TO 35 YEARS IN PRISON

Walhalla, SC– On November 21, 2019, Steven Reynolds, age 20 of 3 Padgett Street, Seneca, pled guilty to two counts of murder, armed robbery, and malicious injury to personal property.  He was sentenced by the Honorable R. Lawton McIntosh to 35 years in prison.  He will not be eligible for parole. 

On September 10, 2018, the Defendant did shoot and kill Timothy Caldwell and David Thomas Tranah during the course of an armed robbery.  Prior to the killings, the defendant did also shoot an unoccupied vehicle belonging to the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office causing damage in an amount between $2000-$10,000. 

The incident in question occurred in an area of Seneca known as “The Compound”.  This is an area known to law enforcement as a hotbed of criminal activity, specifically significant drug, theft, and homeless activity.  The Defendant was well known to those who frequented “The Compound” and had a longstanding relationship with victim Caldwell.  At the time of this incident, both victims were reportedly staying at “The Compound”.  Multiple statements indicated that the Defendant had gone to “The Compound” to collect something victim Caldwell owed him, which is speculated to be a drug related debt.  The Defendant fled the scene after this incident and was apprehended by law enforcement at an Oconee residence the next day. 

 Solicitor David R. Wagner said “I would like to commend the combined efforts of our office and the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office to secure this lengthy prison sentence for Steven Reynolds.  Today’s outcome ensures our community will not be endangered by Mr. Reynolds for decades to come.   This case highlights the violent consequences of the drug epidemic facing our communities nationwide.”

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OCONEE MAN SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS IN PRISON

Walhalla, SC —  A Salem man was found guilty today in Oconee General Session Court; 56-year-old Clifton Eugene Smith was tried and convicted of Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature for his role in a knife attack that left the victim with life-threatening injuries. 

Testimony presented in court over the two-day trial showed that on December 26, 2017, Clifton Smith was riding in a vehicle with the victim, Mr. Michael Todd Reid. A verbal argument escalated until Mr. Smith eventually slashed the victim repeatedly with a pocket knife as his sat in the backseat of the car. The victim suffered from severe blood loss due to extensive lacerations to his hands, arms, chest, and thigh, and was transported from the scene directly to the Greenville Hospital trauma unit.

 Circuit Court Judge R. Lawton McIntosh noted the severity of the attack, as well as Mr. Smith’s extensive history of violent crimes as he imposed a sentence of 15 years in the Department of Corrections. He will not be eligible for parole.

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