A Holly Hill woman tried to protect the children in her home on July 15, 2015, but she was no match for the men who forced their way inside, prosecutors claim.
“They were coming for dope and they didn’t even care,” 1st Circuit Assistant Solicitor David Osborne said during opening arguments Wednesday.
Four people were killed that day and an 8-year-old was injured.
Four Eutawville men are accused of four counts of murder and one count of attempted murder: Antley Jermaine “Jackie Man” Scott, Robert Lee “Pockets” Bailey, Luther Joseph Smith and Derrick Warren Coleman.
The trial for Scott, Bailey and Smith started Wednesday. Coleman is listed as a potential witness who may testify during the trial.
Osborne claims the men went to the house to get drugs after Bailey said he didn’t have any.
“The violence that these men brought into that house was horrific,” Osborne said.
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The four people shot and killed were Tamara Alexia Perry, 14; Shamekia Tyjuana Sanders, 17; Krystal Hutto, 28, and Jerome Butler, 50.
Also, Dreamzz Nelson was injured at the 7050 Old State Road residence. Nelson is now 14.
Osborne described Hutto as “addicted to drugs.”
The children in the home were half-siblings, but weren’t Hutto’s children, Osborne said.
He noted, “When the chips were down, she did everything she could to save their lives.”
Hutto was engaged to the children’s father, Christopher Dean Wright, who started his testimony late on Monday.
Wright testified that he used to sell crack cocaine out of the house to people he knew personally.
Osborne described Butler as a drug addict who was “homeless but harmless.” He noted that Butler was shot twice while sitting in a Camaro parked in the driveway. After that, someone then shot Butler in the head, he said.
When Perry heard an intruder kicking the back door of the home, she rushed to the kids’ bedroom and barricaded herself inside.
Nelson hid in a closet, but a shooter found him, Osborne said.
Osborne noted Perry, Sanders and Nelson were each shot in the head while they were on the floor.
“For six long hours, Dreamzz fought for his life covered in blood and his sisters’ blood,” Osborne said.
Osborne claims Coleman drove the getaway car for Scott, Bailey and Smith.
For weeks after the shooting, Bailey allegedly texted a relative multiple times daily, asking, “What does Dreamzz remember?” Osborne said.
Nelson’s grandmother’s home was behind Bailey’s, so the two knew each other, Osborne said.
“Those men thought there would be no one left to tell what they did,” Osborne said.
Smith’s attorney, Aimee Zmroczek, said in opening arguments that the sheriff’s office’s investigation was “ignorance covered up with lies and incompetence.”
She said Smith has been waiting six years, six months and 26 days to have his day in court.
She alleges Smith wasn’t at Hutto’s house when the shooting took place.
She noted that Smith was “self-medicating” with illegal drugs to cope with the emotional pain he experienced when his wife left him.
“Joe looks a lot different today. Being clean for five years will do that to you,” she said.
She also noted that both Smith and Coleman are “easily manipulated.”
Smith made 12 confessions to the crime, she said, but they changed over time, she added.
Zmroczek accused Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office Lt. James Shumpert of, “creating this narrative when they couldn’t figure it out.”
She said Shumpert, “knew he could take these weak-minded individuals and make them confess.”
“The story Shumpert builds doesn’t line up with any of the objective evidence,” she said.
Zmroczek alleges Wright, the children’s drug-dealer father engaged to two women at the same time, “set this ball in motion.”
Zmroczek said if the accused men were going to the home to buy drugs, then they wouldn’t have left the drugs behind.
During his testimony Tuesday, Wright said that photos taken inside the house showed drug paraphernalia and crack cocaine.
Wright also testified that he’d gotten a call from Bailey the day before the shootings. Wright said he hadn’t heard from Bailey in months, but Bailey wanted to negotiate the sale of one of Wright’s motorcycles to someone Bailey knew.
Bailey and the motorcycle buyer went to Hutto’s home where they met Wright to work out the deal.
At the end of the deal, Bailey got a red motorcycle, Wright got a motorcycle motor and a dirt bike, and Bailey’s friend got an orange motorcycle.
Wright rode with a friend who had a truck and transported the motorcycles to Bailey’s house.
Wright said a “burned-up guy” gave him a ride back to Hutto’s home. Wright said that was the first time he met him.
Attorneys explained the “burned-up guy” referred to Coleman, who’d sustained significant burn injuries and scarring in an accident several years prior.
Wright noted that Coleman didn’t have any trouble driving, despite considerable scarring on his hands.
Wright testified that Sanders, Perry, Nelson and Hutto were at the home when he returned. After a little while, he drove to his other fiancé’s home in Summerton.
He and the woman recently began renting a home there and decided to visit the Walmart in Manning to buy a microwave and table for the home.
Wright spent the night at the woman’s house. When he woke up the next day, he saw a missed call on his phone.
It was from Hutto. He said it was unusual for her to call during the middle of the night.
Wright decided he needed to return to Hutto’s home to check on things since she didn’t answer the phone when he tried to call her back.
He, along with one of his Summerton fiancé’s male relatives, headed to Holly Hill, but first stopped at the BP gas station so Wright could purchase a blunt cigar and a drink.
When Wright arrived, he saw Butler on the driveway.
“I tapped his foot,” Wright said. Butler didn’t respond.
The front door of the home was open and someone had kicked open the back door.
Wright said he went into the threshold of the door, but quickly backed away, deciding to call 911.
He told deputies he thought family members were inside of the home.
Osborne asked Wright if he ever asked Nelson what he remembered of the shootings.
“No sir,” Wright said.
The trial will resume Thursday with defense attorneys asking Wright questions.
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