Rap lyrics help convict Columbia man of murder

cwinston@thestate.comFebruary 19, 2014 

— A 22-year-old Columbia man has been sentenced to life in prison for a 2011 murder at the Harbison Olive Garden.

Gonzales “Snoop” Wardlaw, 22, was found guilty of murdering Thomas T. Hoefer, 21, of Columbia, on Friday.

Hoefer, who was at the restaurant for a birthday party for his fiancee’s mother, was shot in the chest on Dec. 29, 2011. with a .22-caliber handgun. He died on the way to the hospital.

Testimony at the trial, according to information released Wednesday by the 11th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, revealed that the two men met at the restaurant for a marijuana purchase. Wardlaw, unhappy with the type of drug, drew a gun, shot Hoefer and fled, according to a press release.

Rap lyrics found in Wardlaw’s home three weeks after the shooting tied him to the shooting. It included references to “hit ‘em in his chest” and “caught ‘em at da Olive Garden.” Lyrics also appeared to boast that people who slight the lyric’s writer end up dead. In testimony, Wardlaw acknowledged the lyrics were his, but that he acted in self defense. The Lexington jury that convicted Wardlaw deliberated for 50 minutes.

In setencing, Hoefer’s family asked for the maximum sentence. Wardlaw admitted to breaking the law, apologized to the court and asked for mercy.

Deputy Solicitor’s Rick Hubbard and Shawn Graham prosecuted the case on behalf of Solicitor Donnie Myers.

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