December 12, 2018

(Anderson, SC). Earlier today at the Anderson County Courthouse Jesse
Dewitt Osborne pled guilty to two counts of Murder and three counts of
Attempted Murder before Judge Lawton McIntosh for killing his father and going on a shooting spree at Townville Elementary School on September 28, 2016, where he killed first grader Jacob Hall and injured two other first grade students and a teacher. Osborne’s sentencing will take place after a hearing later this spring.


A hearing prior to sentencing Osborne is required due to the State seeking a sentence of Life without Parole for the crimes committed by Osborne since he was under 17 years old at the time he committed these offenses. The Supreme Court of the United States held in Miller v. Alabama, 132 S. Ct. 2455 (2012), that the Eighth Amendment prohibits a sentencing scheme that mandates a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders without affording the Court the opportunity to consider mitigating circumstances of youth. This means that before a life without parole sentence is imposed upon a juvenile offender, he must receive an individualized hearing where the mitigating qualities of youth are fully considered, including:


(1) the chronological age of the offender and the “hallmark features of
youth”, including immaturity, impetuosity, and failure to appreciate the risks and consequence of conduct;


(2) the family and home life/environment of the offender;


(3) the circumstances of the homicide offense, including the offender's
participation or role and how “familial and peer pressures” may have
affected him;


(4) the “incompetencies associated with youth,” such as the offender's
inability to deal with police officers or prosecutors or assist his own
attorneys; and 

(5) the possibility of rehabilitation.


The South Carolina Supreme Court extended the Miller holding in Aiken v. Byars, 410 S.C. 534, 754 S.E.2d 508 (2014), to cover nonmandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole and also held that this applies retroactively to cases pending on collateral review.


Following the guilty plea entered by Osborne, Solicitor Wagner said: “The State will not be entering into any plea deals with Jesse Osborne. I am seeking the maximum sentence in this case, life without parole, which is the appropriate sentence for the murder of six-year-old Jacob Hall, and the attempted murders of his classmates and teachers.”


The minimum sentence Osborne now faces is 30 years, with the maximum, which is being sought by Solicitor David R. Wagner of the Tenth Judicial Circuit, being life without the possibility of parole.

On Monday, October 15, 2018, Jonathan Duncan pled guilty before the Honorable R. Scott Sprouse to Attempted Murder, Domestic Violence 2nd Degree, and Possession of a Weapon During a Violent Crime. Judge Sprouse imposed a sentence of 27 years. Mr. Duncan will not be eligible for parole. 

Duncan’s charges stemmed from a brutal attack on his wife Margaret Duncan and a mutual acquaintance, Justin Stasney, on June 6, 2016. The parties were spending time together when Duncan became enraged with his wife and believed she was going to leave him for Mr. Stasney. He struck her multiple times and began to choke her. At this point, Mr. Stasney stepped in to aid in Ms. Duncan’s defense. The Defendant subsequently attacked Mr. Stasney and he suffered near fatal knife wounds to his hands, back, and neck. Mr. Stasney was also stabbed in the face and, ultimately, lost one eye. 

          “Special thanks for the hard work of the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office in this case. Their quick response to the scene of this crime very likely saved the life of Mr. Stasney” stated Solicitor David Wagner.   “The month of October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Judge Sprouse’s sentence sends a strong message that domestic related, violent incidents such as this will not be tolerated in our community.”

Anderson, SC—It took an Anderson County jury less than 10 minutes to convict Darrell Blackwell of the Armed Robbery that occurred at the Shop Rite store at 714 Sayre Street on January 9, 2016. The entire incident was captured on the store’s video surveillance and clearly showed Blackwell armed with both a knife and what appeared to be a gun when he entered and then robbed the store of money, cigarettes, and other various items. Two clerks were working at the time, but fortunately, no one was physically harmed. The defendant was apprehended several days later after an investigation by the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office.

 

“The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office did a great job tracking this armed robber down and we appreciate all their hard work.” Solicitor David Wagner.

 

Walhalla, SC—The Honorable Lawton McIntosh sentenced Lee Mikeal Cawthon to 40 years in prison today for the Murder of his wife Rebecca plus 5 years consecutive for the Possession of a Weapon during the Commission of a Violent Crime. 

After divorcing his first wife, Lee Cawthon married Rebecca when she was 17 years old. Lee and Rebecca Cawthon shared an unconventional open marriage in which they invited one or more sexual partners to join them in their relationship.

Rebecca and Lee were virtually inseparable throughout the course of their marriage. They often chose occupations where they could work together to minimize their time apart. Around the time of Rebecca’s death she had begun a new job and was gaining her independence. The Cawthon’s marriage also became strained during this time as they had invited a male partner into their relationship for the first time.

On Easter Sunday of 2017, the Cawthon’s returned home after consuming alcohol with their male partner. An argument ensued and the defendant assaulted Rebecca Cawthon. She subsequently sought treatment at Oconee Memorial Hospital, telling a medical professional she had fallen down the stairs. After being released she sent photos of her injuries to friends. She sought comfort from the male companion that she and her husband had shared. On April 17th, Rebecca returned home to collect her belongings and tell the defendant she wanted a divorce. He became enraged at the thought of losing her and shot her multiple times. After ensuring that the victim was deceased, Lee Cawthon placed coins on Rebecca’s eyes “for the boatman”, referring to a death ritual from Greek mythology wherein coins are placed on the eyes of the dead to ensure the passage over the River Styx, which divides the living and the dead. 

After cleaning the crime scene, the defendant fled to Clayton, Georgia but subsequently returned. During this time, he was using the victim’s phone to send text messages to the victim’s relatives to cover up her disappearance. Upon return to Oconee County, Cawthon placed the victim’s body in a 55-gallon oil drum and stored the drum in a grease pit under a tractor. He then traveled to Oklahoma to visit an individual named Hamster who they had met in the online game, World of Warcraft. The defendant again returned to Oconee County. At this point the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office was investigating Rebecca’s disappearance as a missing person’s case. On May 3rd, 2017, the defendant came to the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and confessed to murdering his wife. He directed investigators that the victim’s decomposed body could be found on their property in the oil barrel and told them they could find the murder weapon in his vehicle.

“We need to thank the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office for their outstanding work in this case,” stated Solicitor David Wagner following Cawthon’s sentencing. “Rebecca Cawthon was a victim of domestic violence who was attempting to free herself from the situation and start a new life. Lee Cawthon stole that opportunity from her. Today’s sentence effectively ensures that Lee Cawthon will never have the opportunity to walk as a free man.”