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10th Circuit Solicitor's Office. 

Today in Anderson County General Sessions Court defendant Ahmad Neely pled guilty to charges of Voluntary Manslaughter, Criminal Conspiracy, and Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of a Violent Crime for the 2017 killing of Charles Hillery. Neely received a negotiated 30 year active jail sentence. The plea was entered before the Honorable R. Scott Sprouse with attorney Tom Quinn representing the defendant and Senior Assistant Solicitor Lauren Davis Price representing the State. 

On August 13, 2017, Ahmed Neely and 4 co­defendants (Kailyn Dupree, Kemijai Anderson, Ethan Nichols, and Michelle Kirksey) conspired to commit an armed robbery of Travis Perry, who lived on Robinson Street in Pendleton. They believed Perry was a drug dealer and would have cash they could take from him. They retrieved a gun and drove to Perry’s residence. Their plan was for the three male co­defendants to rush into the house and commit the robbery, with Kailyn Dupree acting as their getaway driver. Michelle Kirksey had already proceeded to the home of Mr. Perry, as they had a prior relationship, and her role was to distract him and disarm him. It was confirmed by text messages sent between the defendants that Ms. Kirksey had successfully taken Mr. Perry’s gun and hidden it from him in his closet so he would be unarmed when the other co­defendants arrived. However, the group had not accounted for Mr. Perry’s housemate, Charles Hillery, who was on the front porch of the residence when the car pulled up and as the three male co­defendants approached. Anderson and Nichols, seeing Mr. Hillery, fled. Neely, however, engaged in a confrontation with Mr. Hillery. Mr. Hillary had a gun in his hand when he was struggling with Neely, but it was never fired, and it had apparently jammed. The defendant and Mr. Hillery struggled with one another, and during the struggle Neely stabbed Mr. Hillery at least 28 times, causing injuries which resulted in his death. Charles Hillery had no prior dealings or familiarity with the co­defendants in this case prior to this incident. 

Kailyn Dupree pled guilty to Attempted Armed Robbery and Accessory After the Fact to Murder, Kemijai Anderson pled guilty to Attempted Armed Robbery and Criminal Conspiracy, Ethan Nichols pled guilty to Accessory After the Fact to Murder and Criminal Conspiracy, and Michelle Guadalupe Kirksey pled guilty to Attempted AR and Criminal Conspiracy. All are now awaiting sentencing by the Court. 

Following the entering of the guilty plea, Solicitor David Wagner made the following statement: “This was a senseless act of violence committed by a young man who will now spend more years in jail than he has spent living on earth because he chose to take the life of another. I hope that young people who would be enticed to commit crimes in a misguided attempt to get cash fast will see how tragic this is and will instead pursue honest means of getting ahead through hard work.” 

Walhalla, SC--On Friday, March 1, 2019, Matthew Jason Chappell pled guilty before the Honorable R. Scott Sprouse to Great Bodily Injury to a Child and no contest to Voluntary Manslaughter.  Judge Sprouse imposed a total sentence of 40 years.  Mr. Chappell will not be eligible for parole. 

 On November 21, 2017, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Matthew Chappell’s residence upon report of a three-year-old child that had been injured.  At the time of injury, the child was alone in the home with Mr. Chappell.  The child suffered bi-lateral skull fractures that were ruled by medical professionals to be non-accidental in nature.  When questioned by law enforcement, Chappell asserted that he had been playing with the child when he pushed her and she fell backwards, hitting her head, rendering her unconscious.  Mr. Chappell waited a significant period of time and attempted to clean up evidence of blood in the home before seeking aid for the child.  

Upon further investigation, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office discovered that the injured child’s sister, 22-month-old Gwynne Hess, had died in the very same home on June 9, 2017.  At the time, her death had been ruled accidental in nature.  The investigation into Gwynne Hess’ death was re-opened.  It was discovered, again, that Gwynne was alone in the home with Mr. Chappell at the time of her alleged accidental choking.  Upon further questioning, Mr. Chappell confessed that he had picked up Gwynne and dropped her on the floor causing her to choke.  Based on this information, the decision was made to exhume the remains of Gwynne Hess for autopsy.  The medical examiner found massive fractures to the side and back of Gwynne’s head.  He further opined that the amount of force to cause these injuries to Gwynne’s skull would be the equivalent of falling off a three-story building. 

          “Special thanks for the hard work of Sergeant Tim Rice of the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office.  Sergeant Rice’s diligence during his investigation of the surviving child’s injuries ultimately uncovered that Gwynne Hess’ death was not an accident and ensured Mr. Chappell would be held accountable for all of his actions.” stated Solicitor David Wagner.   “Judge Sprouse’s sentence ensures Matthew Chappell will serve a large part, if not the entirety, of the rest of his life in prison.”

February 28, 2019

Walhalla, SC—Yesterday, an Oconee County jury found Michael Lee Trotter guilty on all counts following a one-day trial. The State was represented by Assistant Solicitor Jason Alderman. The Honorable Scott Sprouse sentenced Trotter to 5 years for Possession of Tools Capable of Being Used in a Crime; 10 years for Grand Larceny (enhanced due to prior convictions); 10 years for Petit Larceny (also enhanced); and 15 years for Burglary 2nd Degree, Violent, with all sentences to be served concurrently. Although the defendant told the judge that he had been a drug addict his entire adult life, the Judge remarked that he fashioned the sentence to punish him but to allow him to have a life after prison, if he chose to. 

On or between November 27th and 28th of 2017, two trailers were taken from a location on Shiloh Road. Officers responding to the scene spoke to the victim who gave a description of the two trailers and showed the officers the scene of the theft and where the chain used to secure the trailers had been cut. While at the scene of the trailer theft, the officers received a call of shots fired at another location, later found to be the home of the defendant. During the investigation of this incident, a witness stated that he had seen trailers being pulled on to vacant property next door to the defendant’s home. Trotter was found on that property shortly thereafter, although the property was clearly marked with “No Trespassing” signs. The stolen trailers were also located there as well as tools used to cut the locks on the property adjacent to the defendant’s home and also cut the chain securing the trailers at the original incident location. Trotter was taken into custody for trespassing. Warrants were later served for the other charges. 

Following the sentencing, Solicitor David Wagner stated, “Michael Trotter has been in and out of prison for many years because of drugs and multiple burglaries. I appreciate the fact that he was sentenced to the maximum on each of these charges due to his long criminal history and want to thank the jurors, the Judge and law enforcement for helping to make our community a safer place.”