Murder Charges Served in Man’s Death

cunningham shamika danielle

A woman who was booked in the Laurens County Detention center early Friday was later charged with Murder. The Sheriff’s Office was called to 1089 Friendship Church Road, Gray Court around 9:30 Thursday night, where the body of 64-year-old Arthur Lee Turner was found lying in a hallway of his residence. Coroner Nick Nichols stated that Turner had died at 5:40 Wednesday evening. As Sheriff’s Officers and SLED investigated the death, 31-year-old Shamika Danielle Cunningham of 4835 North Old Laurens Road, Apartment H, Gray Court was placed in detention early Friday morning. She was later charged with Murder and Strong Armed Robbery. Sheriff’s Sgt. Farrah Cook states that Shamika Danielle Cunningham did, with malice aforethought, cause the death of the victim by blunt force trauma to the head. Sgt. Cook further alleges that Ms. Cunningham took a wallet, money and debit card from the victim with intent to deprive by means of force or intimidation. No bond was set on either the Murder or the Strong Armed Robbery charge. Shamika Danielle Cunningham remains in the Johnson Detention Center, pending General Sessions Court appearance.

Superintendent Speaks of Goals for District 55

The Thomas Sanders High School Alumni Association held it’s “Back to School Prayer Breakfast” Saturday morning. The event this year included a talk by the new Superintendent of District 55 Schools, Dr. Steven Peters. He said that he believes Education is the greatest profession. He spoke of District 55 having 6,000 plus children to educate, that come from every walk of life. As for poverty in the district, he said poverty is not a disability, but it cannot be ignored.

Noting he’s found great educators here, Dr. Peters said District 55 is a good district, but will be great. He predicted the district with be one of the top five in the state within five years.  As for the importance of a Vision for the Future, Dr. Peters said “The only thing worse than being blind is seeing with no vision.”

$100,000 Bond on Probation Violation

State Probation Friday placed 33-year-old Jeremy Keith Teague of 1646 Relax Street, Waterloo in custody on a Violation of Probation charge. He’s accused of failing to follow advice and instructions of his agent, including failing to report to the probation office August 5th, failing to refrain from possession of a firearm and of allegedly making threats to shoot someone. With a cash or surety bond set at $100,000, Jeremy Keith Teague remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning.

DUS, Resisting Arrest, Child Neglect

Laurens City Police arrested a man Friday and added charges following the initial charge. 26-year-old Brandon Renee Stephens of 115 Gray Street, Laurens was initially charged with 2nd Offense Driving under Suspension and with Resisting arrest. Those charges came from tickets issued by Officer Gallo alleging these offenses at 6:29 Friday evening on West Farley Avenue.

Stephens was later served with a warrant charging him with Unlawful Conduct toward a Child. In the warrant, Officer Gallo states that Stephens committed the crime of Unlawful Neglect towards a child Friday by having his child with him in a vehicle that he was operating without a license due to his being suspended. The warrant further states he also resisted arrest and made an attempt to flee from law enforcement, which placed the child in unnecessary risk of physical harm or mental anguish.

Cash or surety bonds on these three charges were set totaling $12,270. Meanwhile, Brandon Renee Stephens was also served with two Bench Warrants from Laurens Municipal Court which show convictions March 15th 2016 for charges of Driving under Suspension and Simple Possession of Marijuana. Sentences on these charges were 30 days or fines of $620 and $640. Brandon Stephens remained in custody this morning.

Domestic Violence Arrest Early Sunday after 911 Hang-Up

Sheriff’s Deputy Dena Messer was dispatched to Indian Mound Road south of Laurens at 58 minutes after midnight Sunday on a 911 hang-up call. At or near the driveway she observed a man standing in the roadway, who approached the patrol car. He reportedly told her the female victim was crazy and had been taking all his pills. Deputy Messer noted the man was very drunk. In the driveway the officer observed the man’s girlfriend crying with her sister standing beside her. She reported the boyfriend had been calling her ugly names then became physically abusive.

After investigation the officer arrested 36-year-old Clifford Paul Arlis Lewis of 2221 Indian Mound Road, Laurens. He was charged with Domestic Violence 2nd Degree. A warrant states that on August 21st Mr. Lewis choked a woman with whom he is living by impeding the victim’s breathing and disrupting her air flow. It also states that he grabbed her by the arm, breaking her watch off the arm and that he threatened to kill her, making her fear for her life. Clifford Paul Arlis Lewis remained in the Johnson Detention Center overnight, pending a bond hearing.

Assault and Yelling at Mama

Yelling at Mama Friday was among the wrongdoings Laurens City Police alleged on a man arrested that day. 31-year-old Joseph Bernard Harris of 900 Church Street, Laurens was charged with Trespassing, Breach of Peace and Assault and Battery. Officer Michael Gainey states that on August 19th the defendant entered the apartment of the victim at 900 Church Street after being served a trespass notice & that he yelled obscenities at his mother and threw items inside the apartment, breaching the peace of the home. Officer Gainey further stated Harris struck the victim about the head and face with his hand in the Church Street apartment. Joseph Bernard Harris remained in custody this morning with cash or surety bonds totaling $1,732 on the three charges.

Man’s Death Believed to be Homicide

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office was investigating a homicide overnight after a man was found dead in his residence north of Owings. A call came in around 9:30 pm. Deputy Brandon Howard was first on the scene and reported finding the deceased’s body lying in a hallway inside the residence. Laurens County Coroner Nick Nichols identified the deceased as 64-year-old Arthur Lee Turner of 1089 Friendship Church Road, Gray Court. Nichols said Mr. Turner died at 5:40 Wednesday evening, August 17th.  An Autopsy was to be conducted in Greenville at 9:00 this morning to determine the cause of death for Arthur Lee Turner, but this is being treated as a homicide.

Investigators from the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office and SLED were investigating on the scene overnight. One person, a female, was being held as a suspect in the case. She was being held in the Johnson Detention Center. At least one other person of interest was being sought in the early morning hours as the investigation continued.

1st GED Graduation from Johnson Detention Center

GED Grad     Last night was a special evening for Laurens County Adult Education and the Johnson Detention Center, as inmate De’Andre Jamal Reed received his GED Diploma. He’s the first inmate-graduate of Laurens County’s newly formed GED mobile test center, a first such location in the state.

Dr. Joe Makla , director of the Laurens County Adult Education, spoke on how this program began. About 18 months ago Makla, along with the detention center staff, begain the Work Keys Program in the detention center. This is a certificate program for employers to refer to in finding suitable employees.

Dr. Makla said “We heard from those in the program that they wanted to take their GED test, but there are only two fixed GED test centers located in jails in South Carolina, only in larger correctional facilities such as Charleston and Spartanburg. (locally)The only fixed testing site around was at Piedmont Tech, which was impossible for those incarcerated to attend. Then I heard about the possibility of having a mobile test center here at Johnson.” Makla immediately went to work to institute such a program in Laurens County.

Dr. Makla continued “This could not have been possible without Major Tyson, Scott Weeks and the staff at the detention center, who made room for us to bring in and take back out all the materials necessary. And, of course, his teacher Janet Thompson.”

Johnson Detention Center Administrator, Major Joe Tyson, gave the opening remarks at last night’s ceremony, saying “Tonight is a picture- perfect example of why I chose this profession. We now have 15 inmates enrolled in the GED Program, and 125 in the Work Unit Program.”

Addressing inmate Reed, Sheriff Ricky Chastain said “You, DJ, are a shining example. We are depending on you. You are now a leader and it is up to you to let others know what can be accomplished. We are watching you as our diamond.”

On hand for the 1st GED Graduation at the Johnson Detention Center last night was retired Laurens County Administrator Ernie Segars, who was given special recognition for his help in instituting the Work Keys program in Laurens County. Also on hand were former County Council Chair, now County Auditor Jim Coleman, Representative Mike Pitts and Laurens City Police Chief Sonny Ledda.

Alleged “Sexting” with Minor

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office arrested a young woman yesterday from an alleged case of “Sexting” with a juvenile. 24-year-old Keanna Marie Kerns of 405 Sagewood Court, Fountain Inn was charged with Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor. In a warrant, Sgt. Carter states that between July 26th and 27th 2016 in Laurens County Ms. Kerns did knowingly and willfully exchange text messages, with a minor, concerning sexual acts. Ms. Kerns was released from the Johnson Detention Center on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond.

Cross Hill Vacation Home Burglary

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office was called yesterday to investigate a Burglary at a Florida resident’s vacation home on Lake Greenwood. Deputy Jeremy McMahan responded to Lakeshore Drive, Cross Hill yesterday afternoon and met with the victim, who reported he had not been in the home since February. On returning yesterday he found a mess inside. There were needles on the kitchen cabinet. All the rooms and drawers in the house had been gone through. Someone had drunk all the liquor in the house and had apparently laid on the bed with some candles, based on all the was found on the bed. A guest house had also been entered. Other than the liquor, the only thing noted as taken was some antique kitchenware that had been stored in a bin in the bedroom. Value was $2,500. The case was being forwarded to investigations.

City Joins with County for Victim’s Advocate

Laurens City Council this week approved an agreement between the city and Laurens County in support of Laurens County’s victims advocate program. This program works to have victims of crime treated with fairness, respect and dignity, free from intimidation or harm throughout the criminal and juvenile justice process. It seeks to keep victims informed about their rights, about arrests, releases or even escapes of suspects. The victim’s advocate also confers with the prosecution before the case is heard in court.

The victim has the right to be present at criminal proceedings where the accused has the right to be present. The advocate is to work to assure that the victim be heard at proceedings affecting bond, bail, release, pleas or sentencing, and for them to have reasonable access to documents relating to the crime before trial and a reasonable prompt and final conclusion of the case.

Victims in some cases may receive restitution from adult or juvenile offenders through surcharge added to fines.

“I’ll Beat Your @$$!”

Threats made during a conversation at home yesterday were alleged with the arrest of a young Clinton man. Clinton Public Safety charged 22-year-old Jerry Austin Gray of 113 North Livingston Street, Clinton with Assault and Battery 3rd Degree. A warrant states that on August 18th at their residence the defendant offered the threat of physical violence with present ability to do so by telling the victim that he would “beat her (&$#).” Jerry Austin Gray was being held overnight in the Johnson Detention Center with a cash or surety bond set at $1,000.

Waterloo Woman One of Five Charged in 2-County Crime Spree

Three law enforcement agencies have combined forces to arrest several people involved in burglaries in Union County and in Whitmire.

Whitmire Police Chief Jeremiah Sinclair, Union Sheriff David Taylor and Newberry Sheriff Lee Foster this morning said that the investigation into the burglaries was underway when law enforcement was made aware that one of the suspects had sold some of the items stolen from a burglary in Whitmire.

Investigators from all three agencies quickly realized that the burglaries in Whitmire and Union County were related and combined forces to piece together the evidence needed to charge the suspects with the burglaries.

Sheriff Taylor said, “Many times this criminals attempt to use jurisdictional lines to hide the fact that they are committing multiple crimes. There hope is that law enforcement will not communicate meaning even if they are caught, they are only charged with a portion of the crimes. We are truly blessed that Union ,Whitmire, and Newberry have established clear lines of communication and partnership understanding that this partnership makes all of us better and our citizens safer.”

Chief Jeremiah Sinclair said that the suspects stole approximately $1,500.00 in antique bottles during the burglary in Whitmire. The Chief went on to describe the group as a “menace to the community who has caused people to not even feel secure in their homes.”

Sheriff Taylor said that the suspects broke into three homes and stole collectables and other items. The Sheriff said that thus far they have been recover stolen items valued at over $3,000. Sheriff Taylor said that the burglaries occurred between July 26 and August 1. He said they occurred in the Whitmire section of Union County.

Sheriff Lee Foster said, “I am afraid that many times people take for granted that everyone has what they have. Residents in Newberry County, Whitmire, and Union County might assume that every agency shares information and works together like our agencies do and this is not always the case. Our communities are better served and our agencies far more effective through these partnerships. We want to place the bad guys on clear notice that if you mess with one you mess with all.”

Sheriff Foster also said, “Many people in today’s society are attempting to minimize the effects of illegal drugs. These suspects were attempting to get money to continue their drug usage. The victims of these burglaries became victims because they were attempting to support their drug habit. Illegal drugs should never be considered a victimless crime.”

In addition, Sheriff Taylor said that one suspect was charged with breaking into a motor vehicle.


Those charges are:


Chrystal R Hughes43-year-old Chrystal R Hughes of 7471 Riverfork Rd, Waterloo. She was arrested August 10th and charged with one count of burglary in Whitmire. She was being held at the Newberry County Detention Center on a $10,000 bond. Chrystal Hughes also has charges pending from the South Carolina Department of Probation, Pardon, and Parole.


Kenneth Lamar Braswell40-year-old Kenneth Lamar Braswell of 74 Sinclair Avenue, Whitmire was arrested August 12th. He is charged with one count of Burglary by the Whitmire Police Department and 3 counts of Burglary in Union County. He was being held in the Newberry County Detention Center on a $20,000. Bond.


Sierra Dawn Braswell29-year-old Sierra Dawn Braswell of 1260 Church Street, Whitmire. She was arrested August 9th and charged with 3 counts of burglary. She has been released on bond.


Donald Andrew Price II


26-year-old Donald Andrew Price II of 191 Sinclair Avenue was arrested August 4th  and charged with 3 counts of burglary in Union County along with 1 count of Receiving Stolen Goods, and 1 count of Receiving Stolen Goods in Newberry County. He was being held at the Newberry County Detention Center on a $10,000 bond.


Bradley Ansel WallenStill being sought by law enforcement officers was 45-year-old Ansel Bradley Wallen of 1971 Highway 66, Whitmire . He was wanted for 1 count of Breaking Into a Motor Vehicle.

1st Degree Burglary Charges Added

Two 1st Degree Burglary charges were served yesterday in connection with break-ins to a Clinton home this past weekend. Clinton Public Safety yesterday served the 1st Degree Burglary Warrants on 21-year-old Abram Ismael Mendez-Nesmith of 1561 Highway 92, Enoree, who was already in custody on three other charges. He was charged with two counts of using another person’s credit card to get cash in Clinton on July 21st and 22nd and with Resisting Arrest by Assaulting a Clinton Officer this Monday, August 15th. Mendez-Nesmith was being held with bonds set totaling $7,500.

The two 1st Degree Burglary warrants served yesterday accuse him of breaking into a house twice between last Friday night and Saturday morning.  Sgt. Prather states that between August 12th and 13th the defendant broke into a residence in the 300 block of Beauregard Street during night-time hours. During one break-in there was a pistol stolen from the residence. During the other entry the defendant is accused of taking a wallet that contained a social security card.

Bond was denied on both 1st Degree Burglary charges yesterday. Abram Ismael Mendez-Nesmith remains in the Johnson Detention Center.

Local Economic Developer Gets National Award

The Southern Economic Development Council (SEDC) recently announced another award for long-time Laurens County Economic Developer Marvin Moss. He was named an Honorary Life Member (HLM) of the association during their annual conference recently held in Kansas City, Missouri.

The HLM designation is the highest award SEDC bestows and it recognizes individuals that have made significant contributions to the profession in one or more of SEDC’s footprint states.  Currently director of Economic Development for the city of Clinton, Moss has been an active member of SEDC since 2011. A seventeen-year member of the economic development profession, he has also served on the board of the South Carolina Economic Developers Association. Moss was named as Clinton’s Director of Economic Development following his retirement as Director of the Laurens County Development Corporation.

Mike Philpot, who is chair of the HLM Nominating Committee and past chair of the SEDC Board of Directors, said “The HLM Award recognizes the highest level of commitment to bettering the profession of economic development.” He said “Marvin exemplifies this through his work in the profession over the years.”

Current SEDC Chairman Chuck Whipple said “Marvin Moss is a consummate economic development professional who has made a demonstrable difference in the communities he has served. He richly deserves to be recognized.”

Founded in 1946, the Southern Economic Development Council is the oldest and largest regional association of economic development professionals in North America.

Laurens Getting “Master Plan”

The City of Laurens moved closer to getting a Master Plan developed this week. Tuesday evening they unanimously approved a request from Jonathan Irick of Main Street Laurens for money to match a $25,000 Economic Grant from the Municipal Association of South Carolina. City Council approved $2,500 to serve as the 10% local match to the grant. Irick told Council “It’s been a few years since they offered this type of grant. It is very exciting to get it.”

In addition to going towards obtaining a master plan for the city, the grant will also hopefully assist in obtaining a permanent location for the downtown farmers market. The local match from the City of Laurens will come out of the city’s economic development funds. Local funding was approved through resolution 8-16-01.

Multiple Failures Cited on Probation

State Probation Officers yesterday arrested 35-year-old Shevie Ann Dustin of 2190 Morning Glory Court, Fountain Inn. She was charged with Violation of Probation, accused of failing to follow the advice and instructions of her supervising agent. The warrant states she failed to report to the probation office after release from the Greenville County Detention Center on 5/17/16 and failed to notify her agent of a change of address, absconding supervision. She’s also accused of failing to make required payments, failing to refrain from association with persons with a criminal record and failing to maintain gainful employment. She is also charged with  failure to refrain from violation of state and local law, with notation of a guilty plea and being found guilty during court proceedings in Greenville and Fountain Inn.

A $50,000 cash or surety bond was set during arraignment. Shevie Ann Dustin remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning.

Congressman Duncan Announces Special Guests

Congressman Jeff Duncan recently announced his special guests and the theme for his 6th Annual Faith & Freedom BBQ which is coming up Monday evening at the Anderson Civic Center. Congressman Duncan announced that this year’s theme is “honoring those who protect us both at home and abroad,” which will include a ceremony honoring all veterans, guardsmen, active duty military, reservists, and first responders.

Additionally, Duncan announced that ‘America’s Toughest Sheriff’ Joe Arpaio of Arizona, Congressman Mark Meadows of North Carolina, and South Carolina Congressman Mick Mulvaney would be this year’s special guests.

False Advertising???

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office yesterday charged a woman with presenting a non-controlled substance as if it were Oxycodone 30mp, a schedule II controlled substance. A warrant alleges that on March 1st 32-year-old Kristi Lynne Chandler of 52 Humility Lane, Enoree presented the non-controlled substance to a man and woman as Oxycodone. Ms. Chandler was released on a $2,500 personal recognizance bond.

Counterfeit $20 at H.T. Business

The Sheriff’s Office yesterday was notified of a counterfeit $20 found in a Hickory Tavern-area business this past weekend. The fake ‘twenty’ reportedly came in during a busy Friday night at the Pizza Oven on 101 at Fairview Road. When checked later, it was determined to be counterfeit.

The fake $20 was placed into evidence.