April 13, 2015


(Anderson, SC.) Joey Ryan Johnson, Jr. pled guilty today to Involuntary Manslaughter. The Honorable Letitia Verdin sentenced Johnson to 30 months in prison. 


On July 27, 2013, the defendant was working for a security company at Marvon’s Place on the Hwy 28 Bypass. A fight began in the club and several people were required to leave. While escorting those people out of the club and into the parking lot, someone informed security that they had seen a gun. Johnson stated later that the truck which was driven by India Lomax veered toward him and he shot in self-defense. Evidence recovered from the scene, as well as video surveillance, indicate that this was not the case and that the shooting was unjustified.

March 31, 2015

In response to recent media inquiries, 10th Circuit Solicitor Chrissy Adams releases the following information:

The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office, along with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), has been investigating the death of Tucker Hipps since September 22, 2014.  The investigation revealed that 30 students affiliated with Sigma Phi Epsilon went on a group run at approximately 5:30 AM the morning of September 22, 2014.  The students left Donaldson Hall and ran toward Fike Recreation Center on Heisman Street.  They then turned right on Williamson Road and then proceeded to take a left on Highway 93.  The run continued down Highway 93 facing traffic and across the bridge from Pickens County to Oconee County.  The group ran single file while on the bridge.  The group turned around slightly after the bridge and returned to Donaldson Hall along the same route initially travelled.  The run lasted less than thirty minutes.  Upon realizing that no one saw Tucker Hipps return from the run and his absence at breakfast, the group began conducting their own search for him.  Tucker Hipps was not reported missing to law enforcement until around 1 PM.  Tucker Hipps’ body was eventually found in Lake Hartwell under the Oconee County side of the bridge headfirst in rocky, shallow water. 

Over these past months, the Oconee Sheriff’s Office and SLED have interviewed and re-interviewed potential witnesses, reviewed videos from Clemson University and from businesses along the route of the run as well as phone records/text messages from multiple individuals.  Every possible explanation for Tucker Hipps’ tragic death has been explored. An expert forensic pathologist has also been consulted in order to determine what kind of event would have resulted in Tucker Hipps’ injuries.   

All students on the run are claiming that they have no knowledge of how Tucker Hipps could have fallen to his death and that no one saw Tucker Hipps go off the bridge and fall to his death.  The Oconee County Sheriff’s Department and SLED have worked diligently and have exhausted all leads that have been received as of this date.  Law enforcement is at a standstill and unable to go forward until such time that additional credible leads are received and can be investigated.  Therefore, the Oconee County Sheriff's Office has assigned this case to its unsolved crimes investigation unit. 

Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC or those who wish to speak directly with an investigator can call the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office at 864-718-1052. All calls will remain anonymous and confidential.  

All FOIA requests relating to this investigation should be sent to the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office.

"Tucker Hipps’ death is a terrible tragedy,” stated Solicitor Adams.  “This young man will not, and must not be forgotten. His family deserves answers. His family and those who knew and loved him deserve to know the circumstances surrounding his untimely death.  I can only hope and pray that anyone with information will find the strength to come forward, for the sake of the family and in Tucker's memory." 

March 25, 2015



(ANDERSON, SC).  Naquarius Watt pled guilty today in Anderson General Sessions Court to two counts of Armed Robbery and two counts of Possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. The Honorable R. Scott Sprouse sentenced Watt to 20 years on each count of Armed Robbery and 5 years on each weapons charge. All sentences are to be served concurrently.


On April 19, 2014, Watt robbed a clerk at gunpoint at the Thomas Food Mart in Anderson. The defendant fired shots, took cash from the register and then fled on foot. Watt was later identified from still photos taken from the surveillance system at the location.


 On May 9, 2014, Watt robbed the Sun City Food Mart on Hwy 81 S. in Anderson, once again firing shots. He left with cash and lottery tickets. The defendant was positively identified by the clerk from a photo lineup.


(WALHALLA, SC). An Oconee County jury has found Shane Adam Burdette guilty of Voluntary Manslaughter and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime in the death of James Evan Tyner in July of 2013. The Honorable Cordell Maddox sentenced Burdette to 25 years suspended to 15 years’ service on the Voluntary Manslaughter charge and 5 years on the weapons charge to be served consecutively.   


 On July 9, 2013, a 911 call came in to Oconee County dispatch stating that James Evan Tyner had been shot at a residence on Mt. Pleasant Road in Westminster, SC. Upon arrival, law enforcement found Mr. Tyner on the ground with a gunshot wound to the back of his neck.  


The incident occurred at the home of the defendant’s parents. The victim was Burdette’s brother-in-law. Burdette was questioned and, following the waiver of his Miranda rights, gave several conflicting statements about the circumstances of the shooting. Witnesses at the scene testified that the defendant went into the house and came out with a shotgun as Tyner ran down the road to get away. Burdette then fired one shot into the ground, reloaded, and fired a second shot at the victim, hitting him in the neck. Tyner immediately fell to the ground.