Earlier today, in Anderson County General Sessions Court, Perry Pruitt pled guilty to one count of the Destruction, Desecration, or Removal of Human Remains. He was sentenced by Judge Lawton McIntosh to 10 years suspended to 4 years of active jail time to be followed by 4 years of probation. He will get credit for 728 days he has already served. The defendant entered his plea under State v. Alford, otherwise known as a “no contest” plea.
Mr. Pruitt was the boyfriend of the victim, Patricia Ann Freeman. She was reported missing by her family in February of 2015, although it was later determined the last time she was seen was September 8, 2014. Her body was discovered by the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office in a well on property belonging to Mr. Pruitt.
Anderson County pathologist Dr. Brett Woodard conducted an autopsy on the victim on Feb 22, 2015. Although her body appeared to be mostly intact upon extraction, his report notes advanced decomposition. Upon examination, he discovered a fracture to her cervical spinal column. However, he waited to issue a report until toxicology results were obtained. In a report dated Aug 18, 2015, SLED toxicologist found no drugs or poisons of concern, after testing muscle tissue from the victim. At that time, Dr. Woodard determined that the victim died from a broken neck and stated the cause of death was homicide. Mr. Pruitt was thereafter charged with the murder of Patricia Freeman and also the destruction, desecration or removal of human remains. While the State was preparing this case for trial, additional tissue samples from the victim collected during Dr. Woodard’s autopsy were subsequently submitted to SLED for further toxicology testing. In a report dated Aug 17, 2017, SLED toxicologists found cocaine and its metabolite in tissues from the victim’s brain and liver. In light of this new result, Dr. Woodard amended his findings. Due to the levels of cocaine and its metabolite found, he was no longer able to say Patricia died from a broken neck, and ruled her cause and manner of death to be undetermined. For this reason, the murder charge originally brought against the defendant was no longer pursued by the Solicitor’s Office.