Crime & Courts

Trick-or-treater's killer sentenced on gun charge

A Sumter man who police say shot and killed a trick-or-treater at his door has been sentenced to more than 16 years in prison on a federal weapons charge.

The family of the slain 12-year-old boy said they are disappointed with the sentence Quentin Patrick received Monday. His sentence is just 20 months more than the minimum he could have received. The maximum was life.

The 23-year-old convicted drug dealer has admitted he fired on the family who came to his door on Halloween 2008 because he thought they were robbers. T.J. Darrisaw was hit 11 times and killed by fire from Patrick's assault rifle at the home in Sumter.

Patrick still faces a murder charge in state court, which carries up to a life sentence.

- The Associated Press

Man gets jail for killing friend who took him in

SPARTANBURG - Prosecutors say a man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for killing a friend who invited him into his home when he was down on his luck.

Authorities say 50-year-old Boyd Mace attacked Archie Horton in December 2008 after Horton asked him not to use harsh language in his Boiling Springs house.

Investigators say Mace responded by knocking Horton down, then bending his legs over his head so violently, the 73-year-old man was paralyzed and died from injuries two weeks later.

Mace pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and will have to serve more than 25 years of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.

Prosecutors say Horton had let Mace stay in his home for several months before the attack.

- The Associated Press

Concert to raise funds for K-9 bulletproof vests

Lexington County police dogs will get the best protection against bullets there is if enough money is raised at an upcoming fund-raiser.

Country music artist Doug McCormick will perform at 6 p.m. Thursday at Ozzie's Island Oasis, 1420 Charleston Highway, West Columbia, to help raise money to buy body armor for six K-9 police dogs with the Lexington County Sheriff's Department K-9 Unit.

Tickets are $10 and can be bought in advance from K-9 Unit deputies or by calling Staci Mathis at (803) 917-7124. Tickets also will be sold at the door.

Proceeds will be given to the Lexington County Sheriff's Foundation, a non-profit group that buys equipment for the sheriff's department that can be difficult to purchase through the governmental budget process.

The dogs work with deputies to find illegal drugs, missing persons and suspects in criminal investigations. Maj. John Allard said the department hopes to buy six vests at $2,000 each.

- John Monk

Controlled burns to be done at state parks

State officials say they will conduct controlled burns at several parks during the winter months.

The blazes will be at six parks - Aiken State Natural Area, Cheraw State Park, Givhans Ferry State Park, Hampton Plantation State Historic Site, Hunting Island State Park and Santee State Park.

Officials say the burns are a regular tool of the South Carolina State Park Service, used for land restoration and habitat preservation. They say the fires are particularly important for protecting many of South Carolina's threatened or endangered species.

Trails and roads in and around the parks can be affected during burns. And closing of trails and roads will be posted. No advance schedule is posted, because the burns are dependent on weather, park officials say.

For more detailed information on prescribed burning in the state, visit the S.C. Prescribed Fire Council at www.clemson/edu/for/rxfire.

- Charlotte Observer

Home where mother, son were slain burns

FOUNTAIN INN - Authorities are investigating a fire that burned a home where a mother and son were killed two weeks ago.

The Greenville News reported the Fountain Inn home burned early Sunday. No injuries were reported.

Laurens County Sheriff Ricky Chastain said it wasn't known whether the murders and the fire were connected. The cause of the blaze is under investigation. Officials are treating it as suspicious.

Authorities said 17-year-old Hillcrest High sophomore basketball player Ashton Arnold and his 31-year-old mother, Amanda Chapman, were fatally shot Nov. 29.

Arnold's stepfather, 32-year-old Gentry O'Neil Chapman, has been charged with two counts of murder. He drove himself to police the morning of the shootings and remains in the Laurens County jail.

- The Associated Press

N.C. court delays release of 2 murderers

RALEIGH - The North Carolina Court of Appeals on Monday temporarily blocked the release of two convicted murderers sentenced to life in prison under a 1970s law, issuing an order an hour before they were to be set free.

John H. Connell, the clerk of the Court of Appeals, gave no explanation for the decision.

A Superior Court judge began the day by mandating a 5 p.m. release of convicted murderers Alford Jones and Faye Brown. Gov. Beverly Perdue declared that she was "furious" with the ruling, and attorneys for the state scrambled to petition the higher court for a chance to air their arguments.

"This order will for the first time ever in the history of North Carolina require our Secretary of Correction to unconditionally release an inmate serving a life sentence," wrote Tiare B. Smiley, a special deputy attorney general, in her appeal.

Several dozen inmates sentenced during a period in the 1970s have life terms defined as only 80 years. Attorneys for Jones and Brown argued in court that they also earned a variety of sentence-reduction credits and that their terms are now complete.

State lawyers had argued that the credits awarded to Jones and Brown were to be used for parole eligibility and other matters. They also said the Correction Department has never given sentence-reduction credits to inmates with life sentences.

Superior Court Judge Ripley Rand sided with the inmates, saying the Department of Correction was wrongly interpreting its regulations on sentence-reduction credits. He said the inmates were allowed to and did receive credits that should be applied to the 80-year terms.

"The Department of Correction could have put into effect rules awarding sentence reduction credits only for the purposes of parole eligibility, custody determinations, and sentence commutation calculations and not for the calculation of an unconditional release date," Rand wrote. "It did not."

- The Associated Press