50 Year Sentence on Murder Conviction

The verdict was guilty. Last evening a Laurens County Jury found 33-year-old Lutavius Elmore of Laurens Guilty of the Murder of 26-year-old Mandez Sergio Lindsey of Greenville.

The defense summed up their case around 11:30 yesterday morning. Closing arguments from Elmore’s Defense Attorney Tristin Schaeffer yesterday afternoon were unsuccessful in convincing the jury that the death was a case of self-defense.

In the state’s closing statement, Prosecutor Dale Scott repeated the quote that he used in opening arguments, “If I can’t have you nobody will,” and used vivid imagery from literature regarding jealousy. The fatal stabbing occurred after Elmore discovered the victim with his x-girlfriend at her home south of Laurens.

Throughout the trial, the prosecution’s case mostly relied on conflicting statements which showed the defendant in multiple lies when being interviewed by law enforcement, expert testimony linking him to the scene and the lack of any physical evidence, like bruising, on Elmore’s body, which discredited his self-defense plea.

In addition to Murder, the jury also found Lutavius Elmore guilty of Possession of a Weapon during a Violent Crime and Burglary. They did not find him guilty of a Kidnapping charge.

Presiding Judge Donald Hocker sentenced Lutavius Elmore to 50 years on the Murder conviction and consecutive sentences of 30 years for the Burglary of his ex-girlfriend’s home and 5 years on Possession of a Weapon during a Violent Crime.

Daily Case Report Dropped, 46 Deaths with COVID-19

Laurens County Emergency Communications Director Joey Avery told Laurens County Council last evening that eight new cases of COVID-19 in Laurens County represented a lower daily number that for a good while. He said Laurens County has now had 46 deaths with the virus. South Carolina DHEC yesterday noted 42 confirmed deaths with COVID and 4 more considered probable. There have now been 1,344 cases confirmed in Laurens County, representing 1,991 per 100,000. South Carolina has now had 101,360 cases confirmed and 2,012 deaths with the virus.

Council Approves Park Upgrade to 100% Wheelchair Accessible

The Laurens County Park may become the first in the upstate to become 100% wheelchair accessible. Laurens County Parks and Recreation Director Andy Howard appeared before County Council last evening requesting permission to apply for a PARD grant to make that happen. He said the total grant would be $116,658.66. The local funds needed to match the grant totals $24,000, which will come from the county’s Special Projects Fund. County Council gave unanimous approval.

Howard said the PARD grant program is a state-funded noncompetitive reimbursable grant program for eligible local government or special purposes district entities within each county which provide recreational opportunities.

Of making the County Park 100% wheelchair accessible, Andy Howard said, “This will make our park the only one in the Upstate.” He said installation of equipment at the park will be done in-house.

Striking His Vehicle with Hers at High Speed

Chiquita Monique Dial

Laurens Police have charged a woman with striking another person’s vehicle with her vehicle Monday. 28-year-old Chiquita Monique Dial of Hooker Avenue, Laurens is charged with Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature. A warrant alleges she struck the victim’s vehicle with her vehicle while traveling at a high rate of speed, attempting to cause him to lose control of his vehicle. With a cash or surety bond set at $20,000 on the High and Aggravated Domestic Violence warrant, Chiquita Monique Dial remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning.

Sexual Exploitation of Minor Via SnapChat

Matthew Carl Williamson

A Western Laurens County man was arrested by the Sheriff’s Office yesterday regarding child abuse materials. 33-year-old Matthew Carl Williamson of Walker Road, Ware Shoals is charged with 2nd Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Minor. A warrant cites the investigation of Investigator Moore with the Eight Circuit Solicitor’s Office as indicating that Williamson distributed child sexual abuse material to an unknown individual via SnapChat. This is alleged to have occurred earlier this year on February 18th from a location on Walker Road, Ware Shoals. Matthew Carl Williamson remained in Laurens County’s Johnson Detention Center earlier today, awaiting a bond hearing.

What Are DHEC Guidelines for School?

We’ve heard a lot about following DHEC guidelines but just what are those guidelines?  At Monday’s called meeting of the School District 56 Board of Trustees, board members learned about those guidelines in some detail. Ms. Cyndi Coker, Coordinator of Special Programs and Ms. Shalina Mode, Head Nurse for District 56 were on hand to present information from DHEC that will guide the re-opening of District 56 schools.

Ms. Coker reviewed the DHEC Communicable Disease Exclusion List.  This provides guidance for a variety of diseases which should exclude a student from school attendance.  She noted that fever is listed as completely separate category.  No matter what the ailment, a child running a fever should not be attending school.  She said district nurses use this list in advising parents as to when it is safe and advisable for students to return to school.

There was also a document relating specifically to COVID19.  That provides a list of symptoms related to the disease.  Three symptoms, in particular, are considered reason for an automatic exclusion from school attendance:

  • Shortness of Breath – difficulty breathing
  • Loss of Taste or Smell
  • New or Worsening Cough

Ms. Mode talked about the evaluation process for students who report to the school nurse.  If, and when a child displays symptoms that could indicate COVID19 they will be placed in an isolation room.  The nurse will then don full Personal Protective Equipment, including goggles, gown and Level II mask and will stay within sight of the child at the entrance to the isolation room.  The child’s parent will be contacted and asked to pick up their child as soon as possible and advised to seek medical attention for the child immediately.

The plans, like the guidelines are still and will remain tentative, since the pool of knowledge regarding COVID19 is still growing.  Ms. Mode stressed that the guidelines and the planned responses are an accurate snapshot of plans and procedures that are in place now. They could change as more information becomes available.

Recent Mishaps for Natural Gas & Electric Service

The Laurens Commissioners of Public Works were updated on some recent mishaps at their August meeting this week. General Manger John Young advised his board that a PRTC contractor hit a 4-inch gain main on Poplar Springs Road, a driver in Laurens had a sudden medical emergency, during which he hit the gas meter at the Burger King on East Main. Young added that a lightening strike on July 6th hit the Mill Street Substation and that caused a widespread power outage. He said some 600 customers were impacted by that outage.

Moving & Making Whereabouts Unknown

Stephen Andrew Polson


South Carolina Pardon, Probation and Parole yesterday arrested 28-year-old Stephen Andrew Polson of Milling Street, Clinton, charging him with Violation of Probation. He is accused of changing his residence without the consent of this supervising agent and of keeping his whereabouts unknown, thereby absconding supervision. Polson is further said to have failed to pay required fees and to follow court-ordered obligations. A warrant issued in mid-June states he failed to report and to follow the advice and instructions of his supervising agent. Stephen Andrew Polson remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning, awaiting a bond hearing.

Domestic Assault on Church Street

Bobby Derrick Whitmore

Laurens Police arrested a man yesterday for an alleged domestic assault on Church Street. 51-year-old Bobby Derrick Whitmore of Eichelberger Road, Gray Court is charged with 2nd Degree Domestic Violence. He is accused of striking the victim in her head and face area repeatedly as well as choking her yesterday at a Church Street location. Bobby Derrick Whitmore remained in Laurens County’s Johnson Detention Center this morning with a cash or surety bond set at $5,000.

“Hybrid” Concept Discussed by District 56 Trustees

At a called meeting of the District 56 School Board last evening at Clinton High School, District 56 School Trustee Patsy Sadler asked to amend the agenda to include actin for allowing a hybrid return to school as an option. Dr. Sadler expressed concern with the surge in COVID19 infections in the area and said a hybrid plan with two days of classroom instruction, two days of independent study and one day of virtual learning would give the district a vehicle for providing some traditional classroom education while assisting with social distancing guidelines.

Trustee Jan Simmons stated that while she agreed with the premise of Dr. Sadler’s motion she did not think it appropriate for the board to amend the agenda and then vote to take action without members of the public knowing the discussion was on the agenda.  It was agreed to include the discussion without taking action last evening.

During that discussion, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Brenda Schrantz expressed concern with the hybrid format.  She said having two days of classroom instruction was fine but two days for completion of assignments independently troubled her.  She explained that a child given 50 math problems to complete may be struggling and complete the assignment, getting all 50 wrong.  She said then it would take some extra time for that child to unlearn the wrong way before learning the right way to complete the assignment.

Chairman Jim Barton expressed some support for Dr. Sadler’s proposal, saying that if there were another surge it would be nice to have something to fall back on that did not absolutely eliminate classroom instruction.

Since no action on the Hybrid proposal was taken, it appears likely another called meeting is coming soon with this subject on the agenda.

Clinton Teen Died Saturday after August 3rd Wreck

Funeral services were held at Chestnut Ridge Baptist Church yesterday the victim of an August 3rd wreck who died this past weekend. 15-year-old Madison Craven of AB Jacks Road, Clinton died at 3:30 Saturday morning at Prisma Health, Greenville, from injuries sustained in a motor vehicle wreck Monday, August 3rd, according to Chief Deputy Coroner Patti Cannup.

Madison Craven was one of the people transported for treatment following a two-car collision around 4:00 the afternoon of August 3rd on Neely Ferry Road near Indian Mound Road. Highway Patrol Trooper Gary Miller said one vehicle crossed the center line and the driver lost control then that vehicle was struck by the other. Injured persons transported for treatment included an adult driver and two juvenile passengers from a Kia Sedan and a juvenile passenger from a Chevy pickup.

SC Over the 100,000 Mark with COVID Cases

South Carolina passed the 100,000 mark yesterday, now having confirmed 100,431 cases of COVID-19. The state has had 1,966 deaths with the virus. Laurens County’s death total with COVID-19 remained at 42 yesterday, with another 4 were considered probable. Laurens County has had 1,198 cases confirmed with another 29 considered probable.

2nd Offense Meth Distribution Alleged

Aaron Blake Waters

Meth Distribution has been charged on a man the Sheriff’s Office arrested Sunday. 28-year-old Aaron Blake Waters of Sally Drive, Clinton is charged with 2nd Offense Distribution of Methamphetamine. He allegedly had 6.1 grams of meth in his possession Sunday on Sally Drive. Aaron Blake Waters remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning, awaiting a bond hearing on the Meth charge.

Assaulting a Sleeping Man with Screwdriver

Megan Renee Wilkes

A woman has been charged with assaulting a sleeping victim with a screwdriver. The Laurens County Sheriff’s office yesterday arrested 29-year-old Megan Renee Wilkes of Bethany Church Road, Laurens and charged her with 1st Degree Assault and Battery. She is accused of striking the victim in the head multiple times August 2nd as he was in bed sleeping on Bethany Church Road, Laurens. Megan Renee Wilkes remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning, awaiting a bond hearing on the 1st Degree Assault and Battery charge.

Charges from Three Agencies Follow Sunday Arrest

Cameron O’Neil McGowen

A man arrested Sunday by Clinton Police has now been charged by all three local law enforcement agencies. Reportedly arrested following a police pursuit was 30-year-old Cameron O’Neil “Cam-G” McGowen of Lurey Street, Laurens.

Clinton Police charged McGowen with Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana and Possession with Intent to Distribute 15 dosage units of Extasy Sunday along with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Clinton further charges him with 3rd or Subsequent Offense for Driving under Suspension, Unlawfully Transporting Alcohol in a Motor Vehicle and Failure to Stop for Blue Lights. Warrant allege that in addition to the marijuana and MDMA pills he also had an open bottle of Grey Goose along with digital scales with residue. He’s also accused of making an abrupt turn and speeding in an attempt to avoid being stopped by Clinton Police Sunday.

The Sheriff’s Office charged McGowan with 2nd Degree Domestic Violence and with Pointing and Presenting a Firearm at a Person. He’s accused of pointing a weapon at someone on July 1st on Watson Street, Laurens and, on June 3rd, of pulling the hair of another victim during an argument which was held in the presence of three minor children on 5th Avenue Extension, Clinton.

Laurens Police have now charged “Cam-G” with multiple counts of Pointing and Presenting a Firearm, accused of displaying a firearm in a threatening manner to three victims on Riddle Street in Laurens on June 1st of this year.

Cameron O’Neil McGowan remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning. While he had PR bonds set on the Paraphernalia and Transporting Liquor charges, cash or surety bonds on the other charges were set totaling $32,500. He was still awaiting a bond hearing on the Sheriff’s Office charges.

Stolen Vehicle, Drugs

A stolen car possession and multiple drug charges have been served on a man Clinton Police arrested Sunday. 56-year-old Billy Ray Williamson of Davis Street, Clinton was charged with Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, Possession of Methamphetamine, 2nd or Subsequent Offense for Simple Possession of Marijuana and with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

Williamson is accused of having a 2007 Chrysler Town and Country van Sunday on Davis Street, without the authority to possess it. He is further accused of having less than a gram of meth and less than 28 grams of marijuana in his possession. He also allegedly had a glass pipe with residue and three torches that were used in smoothing meth. He reportedly has had five drug-related charges in the past ten years.

Billy Ray Williamson was released yesterday on personal recognizance bonds totaling $4,250.

Stolen Ford Explorer

A stolen vehicle was cited with a Laurens Police arrest yesterday. 29-year-old Lashunda Denise “Shanda” Simpson of Price Street, Laurens was charged with Possession of a Stolen Vehicle. She is alleged to have had a 2006 Ford Explorer in her possession on East Main Street in Laurens yesterday. The vehicle was reported stolen out of Anderson County. “Shanda” Simpson was later released on a $1,500 personal recognizance bond.

Defense Grills SLED Agent on Her Blood Analysis Skills

In the first day for the second week of the Elmore Murder Trail, this morning was consumed in long debates over the qualification of the day’s first witness, SLED Crime Scene Investigator Anna Tankersley. Despite her position with SLED, Defense Attorney Tristin Schaeffer proposed that Tankersley was unqualified to give opinions regarding blood splatters, smears and droplets. Dale Scott with the state told Judge Don Hocker, “This is a game the defense is playing to extend this trial. We are in the second week of a trial that was supposed to only last three days’ Scott said the defense attorney has known the witness for two years and should know what her qualifications are.

The defense finally consented to allow Tankersley to testify as an expert witness. He attempted to get her to determine if blood stains on a floor at the death scene could be the result of two people fight. She stated she could not tell.

The state’s Mr. Scott also asked Tankersley if the saturation of blood on a bed could not have occurred with just a brief, shallow wound. She said no. Scott asked her to describe the house where the death occurred, asking if it looked like “A fight to the death between two people.”

Agent Tankersley answered that when she entered the house, all the items looked in place. Scott asked her to describe other crime scenes she had investigated where a fight had occurred. She replied that in such scenes many things were broken, and the area was upset.

Later today the State called Forensic Fingerprint Analysis Agent Edward Darnell, who testified that the fingerprints that were lifted off a window at the crime scene were those of the defendant.

On cross-examination, the defense asked the witness how long a fingerprint lasts. Darnell replied there is no scientific method to determine the age of a fingerprint. The state then completed their witnesses.

The first witness called by the defense was Eight Circuit Solicitor’s Office Investigator Walter Bentley, who was asked if he was the one who determined that Touch DNA Evidence was unnecessary to the case and called to have a DNA test cancelled. Bentley testified that there was an extreme backlog at SLED and the test was unnecessary since the defendant admitted to using the knife. The defense suggested it was unfair that the jury was denied Touch DNA Test Results. Bentley responded that if the jury had been listening to the testimony from the defendant’s own mouth, then they know he was the one who handled that knife and stabbed the victim.

We expect the defense to continue its case Tuesday morning in Laurens County General Sessions Court. 33-year-old Luctavius Elmore is charged with Murder for the August, 2018 stabbing death of 26-year-old Mandez Sergio Lindsey of Greenville.

42 Plus Deaths with COVID-19 Here

There have now been 42 confirmed deaths in Laurens County with COVID-19, as of yesterday. The South Carolina DHEC update indicated there were 4 more deaths probably with COVID. Laurens County has now had 1,325 confirmed cases, with another 5 considered probable.

The Clinton area continues to have the most confirmed cases, with 523 as of yesterday. Laurens has had 429 and the Gray Court zip code has had 150. Cross Hill and Waterloo have now had 48 cases, there have been 20 in Mountville and 17 in Joanna. In local communities including residents of Laurens and at least one other county, Fountain Inn has had 316 confirmed cases, Woodruff has had 194 and Honea Path 101. There have been 62 cases in Enoree, 56 from Whitmire and 15 each for Kinards and Chappells.

South Carolina has now had 1,949 deaths and 99,713 cases have been confirmed.

Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C) is a rare disease in young children whose cause is not known but seems to occur in children who’ve had COVID-19 or been around someone with the disease. This can cause swelling of different vital organs. DHEC reports that South Carolina has had 7 cases of MIS-C. Four of the cases are in the Upstate while the Midlands, Pee Dee and Low Country each have one.

COVID-19 Drive-Thru Clinic at CHS Today

Self Regional Healthcare is conducting a Drive-Thru Testing Clinic for COVID-19 today at Clinton High School. Tests are first-come, first-serve from 9:00 am until 1:00 pm, as long as testing materials last.

Participants were being encouraged to register by calling (864) 725-8200.

Insurance will be billed but there is to be no out-of-pocket cost.

The Self Regional Health Express was to be at Clinton High from 9:00 to 1:00 today for this drive-thru clinic.