The murder trial of Sean Patrick Peters was scheduled to start Monday, but on Friday he pleaded guilty to murder in the death of his wife Rachel in December 2015 at their home on Greenwood Drive in Lexington County.
The 39-year-old West Columbia man was sentenced to life in prison for “an incredibly tragic, horrific case of domestic violence,” said 11th circuit solicitor Rick Hubbard in a news release Friday afternoon.
The shooting death of Rachel Peters happened a month after she was granted an order of protection against Sean Peters by a county family court judge.
In the order, Sean Peters was prevented from having any contact with his estranged wife or going anywhere near the home where she lived with her then 10- and 12-year-old daughters from a previous marriage.
At 5 a.m. Dec. 13, 2015, Rachel and her 10-year-old daughter, who was sleeping in bed with her mom, awoke to find Sean Peters standing over the bed, aiming a pistol at them. The older daughter was at a friend’s house for a sleepover.
As he threatened the little girl with the gun, Peters told his wife to get out of bed and undress, the daughter told investigators.
Evidence at the scene indicated that Sean Peters held the gun to Rachel Peter’s head and shot her twice while her daughter was awake just feet away in the bed, Hubbard said.
Peters held his step-daughter hostage in the home for several hours.
He called Lexington County 911 at 7:41 a.m. and a S.W.A.T. team was sent to the home. But he refused to let the little girl go.
The child was finally rescued after she helped distract Peters through “bravery and quick thinking” allowing a deputy, who was talking to him at the front door, to taser and subdue him, Hubbard said.
Rachel’s mother, Tami Childs, told the sentencing judge that her daughter was a “beautiful light that glowed with love.”
Childs, who is raising the two girls in another state, spoke of the family’s loss and all the life events Rachel will not be able to share with her daughters.