A Lexington County man pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter on Thursday and was sentenced to 25 years in prison in the 2015 shooting death of Madison Leslie Leavitt, of North Myrtle Beach, the 11th Circuit Solicitor’s Office said in a news release.
James Richard Elledge Jr., 27, fired a gun at the Jeep Cherokee that the 24-year-old mother of one was riding in on Nov. 7, 2015, in southern Lexington County. He then got into his vehicle and “initiated a high speed pursuit” of the Jeep “for the purposes of a confrontation,” prosecutors said.
Multiple witnesses in the case testified that Elledge was a well-known methamphetamine dealer. While the driver of the Jeep was a past acquaintance of Elledge, “all indications are that Leavitt was an innocent bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said assistant solicitor Bradley Pogue.
Leavitt, who was riding in the back seat of the Jeep, was killed at the intersection of Gator and Church roads in Gaston, when Elledge fired an AK-47 assault rifle multiple times at the victim’s vehicle and then fled the scene, prosecutors said.
Elledge was captured three days later in Aiken County.
At Elledge’s sentencing at the Lexington County courthouse, Leavitt’s mother, Melissa Martin, said she was trying to find forgiveness in her heart for Elledge but that it is a day-by-day process.
Elledge will not be a candidate for parole, the news release said.