KIDNAP SUSPECT

Federal prosecutors show photos of ammunition in accused kidnapper’s home

Jury weighs Grant’s fateon lesser charges

nophillips@thestate.comJanuary 15, 2013 

Freddie Grant

— A jury is expected to decide today whether accused kidnapper Freddie Grant is guilty of having ammunition that he was not allowed to have in his Elgin home.

Testimony in Grant’s trial took one day, as Richland County sheriff’s investigators described finding shotgun shells and .38-caliber bullets while searching his house for evidence in the case of missing Richland County teen Gabrielle Swainson.

However, Grant’s 27-year-old daughter said she had left the ammunition at her father’s house when she dropped off belongings as she moved around during college and early in her working career.

The jury will return for deliberations at 9:30 this morning. The maximum penalty for illegal possession of ammunition is 10 years in a federal prison. However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey Haynes is seeking a stiffer penalty because Grant is an armed career criminal with three or more convictions for violent or drug-related crimes. Under that scenario, Grant could be sentenced to a maximum of life in prison.

Grant has been charged with kidnapping in the disappearance of Gabrielle, 15. And he is a suspect in the disappearance of 28-year-old Adrianna Laster, a woman who lived with Grant but has not been heard from since the fall of 2011. But nothing was said about either of the missing females during the federal trial.

The prosecution’s case centered on three Richland County investigators who searched Grant’s Elgin home Aug. 21, three days after Gabrielle was reported missing by her mother, Elvia Swainson. Swainson and Grant had dated.

Throughout the investigators’ testimony, Haynes showed pictures of Grant’s home, which was described as “in disarray.” The home had burned in 2006, and Grant was living in it even though the home had not been repaired. None of the walls had sheetrock.

Instead, the rooms were separated by exposed wooden studs and electrical wiring. Clothes hung on the wooden studs, on lamps and over tables and chairs. Empty Solo cups, wood, shoes, papers and other things were strewn over the floors.

The investigators said they found a box of .38-caliber bullets in a drawer in a nightstand in one bedroom. And the shotgun shells were on a bottom shelf of an end table in another room. Both boxes were missing rounds.

Investigators said they could not find fingerprints or DNA on the ammunition or the boxes.

Dominique Grant, Freddie Grant’s daughter, said she had purchased the shotgun shells when she was in college in New Orleans. She bought the shells because the box also included marijuana, which she smoked. She had never gotten rid of the shells but had brought them to her father’s house when she moved her belongings back to South Carolina.

Dominique Grant also said she bought the .38-caliber bullets in New Orleans, when she moved there a second time for a job. She said she bought the bullets along with a .38-caliber handgun from a friend because she was scared of an ex-boyfriend.

Before moving to Durham, N.C., Dominique Grant said, she sold the gun back to her friend but kept the bullets. They were packed in boxes along with the other things she brought to South Carolina to store in her father’s home.

However, Dominique Grant said she did not put the bullets in the nightstand or leave the shells on the end table.

“I placed my stuff in the bedroom, but I didn’t put the bullets in that drawer,” she said.

Haynes asked Dominique Grant if she ever informed investigators that the ammunition they had found belonged to her. She said she did not, because she was worried about the marijuana she had bought with the shotgun shells and she was concerned that she had violated laws by buying a gun from a friend and never registering it.

“I felt like he was arrested because of me,” she said. “I didn’t know he couldn’t have ammo in his possession and I didn’t want to incriminate myself.”

Defense attorney John Delgado reminded the jury that prosecutors must prove Grant knew the ammunition was in the house. He pointed out that the house was so messy that it would be impossible for Grant to know where everything was and even referred to it as a “construction site and storage facility.”

“Boy, this would be a different case if there would’ve been fingerprints on that box,” he said. “They want you to leap into the void and decide he knowingly, willfully and intentionally possessed the ammunition.”

Reach Phillips at (803) 771-8307.

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