(Walhalla, SC). Roger Qualls pled guilty today in Oconee General Sessions Court to Involuntary Manslaughter in the death of Kathy Owens. The Honorable Alex Macaulay sentenced him to 5 years suspended to 24 months home incarceration with credit for time served with 5 years of probation to follow with drug testing, counseling, no contact with the victim’s family and restitution for funeral costs for Ms. Owens.  


On January 1, 2015, Kathy Owens was driven by a friend to the defendant’s residence to purchase prescription pills.   Once at the defendant’s home, the friend stayed in the car while Ms. Owens went into the residence alone. The defendant stated that Ms. Owens wanted to buy pills from him.  During the course of their conversation, she also performed oral sex on him. The defendant stated that this had happened before when she wanted pills.  


The conversation then turned to a gun that was “pawned” by the victim to the Defendant approximately two weeks prior.  The victim told the defendant that she wanted more than the $50 she had received for the gun.  Otherwise, she wanted him to buy the gun and give her some pills. Qualls told her that he didn’t have any more money and went to get the gun.  The Defendant indicated he was giving the gun back and wanted his money back.  When the Defendant returned with the gun, the victim told the Defendant to look at the gun because it was worth more than $50. The Defendant stated that as he pulled the gun from the holster, it may have cocked. When he went to hand the gun back to Ms. Owens, he had it pointed in her direction and the gun went off. Qualls stated that the shooting was an accident. The defendant then called his family and soon after called 911. He also went outside and got the victim’s friend, telling him that she was dead. CPR was attempted by the Defendant before officers arrived on the scene.  


Based on the Defendant’s statement and during the execution of a search warrant on the residence, a bullet was found lodged in a wall where the defendant had accidentally fired the same weapon approximately two weeks earlier.  The investigation revealed that the defendant and the victim not only had a history of drug use together but that they were also friends. At the time of the crime, the Defendant was intoxicated and the victim’s toxicology report indicated the presence of several illegal drugs and prescription medications.  The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office’s investigation failed to produce any evidence of a potential motive that would overcome the defendant’s claim of accident.  The facts of this case meet the legal elements of the negligence standard of involuntary manslaughter. 


“This is a tragic loss for the family and we are aware that they are disappointed by the outcome,” stated Solicitor Chrissy Adams. “However, based on the evidence gathered by the Oconee County Sheriff's Office, involuntary manslaughter was the appropriate charge and an appropriate sentence was handed down by the court.”