Fredrick Antonio Evins will spend the rest of his life in prison after he admitted Thursday to killing and raping Rhonda Ward Goodwin, Damaris Huff and raping an 83-year-old Greenville woman in separate incidents.
Circuit Court Judge Roger Couch sentenced Evins to three life sentences and 120 additional years in prison, tacked on to the 35 years he was already serving.
Evins, 46, was in Couch’s courtroom Thursday morning for resentencing after another judge overturned his death penalty sentence in the Goodwin case. Evins’s attorneys successfully argued in June that Evins was mentally disabled, having a low IQ.
Seventh Circuit Solicitor Barry Barnette agreed to allow Evins to plead guilty to the murder, criminal sexual conduct and kidnapping charges in the Huff case, and criminal sexual conduct, first-degree burglary and two kidnapping charges stemming from the 1991 Greenville County case.
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Barnette said he didn’t believe Evins was mentally disabled due to the heinous acts he had committed.
After Thursday’s hearing, Barnette called Evins a serial rapist and serial murder. In addition to the cases before Couch on Thursday, Barnette said Evins had raped a woman in 1986, attacked a woman in Greer in 1991 and strangled a woman until she was unconscious in 1995.
Barnette told Couch he wanted to again seek the death penalty for Evins, but agreed to Thursday’s sentence because he knew Evins would never walk out of prison. Barnette said Thursday’s guilty pleas gave the victims’ families closure and allowed them to hear one thing they had never heard from Evins: an apology.Goodwin’s naked body was found stabbed in an apple orchard near the Spartanburg-Greenville county line on Feb. 15, 2003 — two days after she was seen on store surveillance leaving a Cigarettes 4 Less with Evins. Goodwin’s mother told Couch that Evins stole her daughter’s life, and while she wished he was still on death row, she was satisfied with consecutive life sentences.
DNA found on Goodwin matched Evins, and investigators were able to tie Evins to the death of Damaris Huff, a Spartanburg County librarian, a December 2002 case that remained unsolved until the Goodwin case. Through DNA matches, the Goodwin case led to successful outcomes in the Huff and Greenville County cases, Barnette said.
Huff’s naked body was found in woods near her Duncan Park home in December 2002. She had gone out for a run early on Dec. 14 and didn’t return home. She also had been sexually assaulted.
Barnette presented a letter from Damaris Huff’s widow, James, in which he wrote the life sentences were “acceptable” because Evins has no chance of getting out of prison.
The family involved in the 1991 Greenville County case told Couch that Evins guilty pleas gave them closure. On Nov. 21, 1991, Evins knocked on the door of a Greenville home and asked an 8-year-old girl if anyone was home, saying he needed to use the phone. As the girl went to get her grandmother, Evins bound the girl with a hair-dryer cord and raped her 83-year-old grandmother as she watched. The girl, who is now 31, told Evins that he took her innocence that day, but she remains strong and has since forgiven him. She will, however, never forget what she saw.
Also in the courtroom, the girl’s mother said her mother begged for Evins to stop raping her and asked him to spare their lives.
“I talked to mama about it before she died, and if she were here, she would tell you that she hopes you accept the Lord in your heart so she can meet you one day in heaven,” the woman said. The grandmother also had forgiven Evins, her daughter said.Evins’s attorneys said Evins saw violence from a young age, and he didn’t have a coping mechanism that healthy people have.
Evins couldn’t successfully process information, they said, and five expert witnesses have determined that Evins is mentally disabled, although he was competent enough to understand Thursday’s court hearing, the attorneys said.
When it was Evins’s turn to speak, he said, “I apologize for my actions, and I’m sorry.”