Steven Bixby – white, age 35

Sentenced to death in Abbeville, South Carolina
By: a jury in just over an hour
Date of crime: December 8, 2003
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Bixby was found guilty for the murders of Sgt. Danny Wilson and Donnie Ouzts, a state constable. Bixby and his family were upset that the state wanted a 20-foot strip of property near their land to widen the highway. They threatened violence against any officer who came upon their land. Ultimately Sgt. Wilson was shot on the Bixby’s front porch while Ouzts was shot as he was exiting a patrol car. The Bixby’s held the officers off for more than 14 hours before becoming subdued. The defense used a psychiatrist to set forth the facts that Bixby had a low IQ and was susceptible to other’s opinions, while suffering from paranoia and a “grandiose sense of self importance.” The defense stated that Bixby believes that those who think they know the law, don’t. Evidence at trial was introduced to show how Bixby’s mother had homeschooled him and taught him to always defend his property.
Prosecutor(s): Jerry Peace
Defense lawyer(s):
Sources: AP Alert 2/21/07 (Crime 05:28:31), Columbia State 02/22/07 (2007 WLNR 3432518), New York Times 02/21/07 (2007 WLNR 3450985)

Ron Finklea – black, age 29

Sentenced to death in Lexington County, South Carolina
By: a judge after accepting the jury’s recommendation for death
Date of crime: August 2, 2003
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Finklea was found guilty for the armed robbery and murder of Walter Sykes, Sr. Finklea shot Sykes twice in the head and set him on fire. The prosecution used the aggravators of armed robbery with a deadly weapon and torture. The alleged reason for the murder was an ATM robbery where Sykes was a security guard. The jurors were shown the surveillance tapes of the murder, even of Sykes, on fire, running out of the building. The prosecution depended on this video and two witnesses who identified Finklea from the video. They also presented evidence that the clothes worn in the video belonged to Finklea. The defense called the video blurry and presented DNA evidence from the hat worn in the video that showed a partial match to a woman’s DNA. This was not enough to cast reasonable doubt over the jury. Finklea pled for his life, stating he wanted to watch his children grow up. Additionally, Finklea claims to have no memory of the events that took place based on amnesia caused by a botched suicide attempt while in the Lexington County Detention Center just two days after his arrest. Doctors are unable to state with any medical certainty if Finklea’s memory loss is real. Finklea told Sykes’ family that he wishes he could remember what happened that evening, so that he could help bring closure to their lives.
Prosecutor(s): Donnie Myers
Defense lawyer(s): Melissa J. Kimbrough and Stephen Soltis Jr.
Sources: Myrtle Beach Sun News 09/08/07 (2007 WLNR 17534676), Columbia State 08/27/07 (2007 WLNR 16676485), 09/01/07 (2007 WLNR 17096531), 09/07/08 (2007 WLNR 17457533)

Jeffrey Jones – black, age 38 (re-sentence after appellate reversal)

Sentenced to death in Lexington County, South Carolina
By: A jury
Date of crime: February 2, 1996
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Jones and a cohort bludgeoned two people to death in a robbery/burglary, and spent the loot on drugs. Jones held a grudge against one of the victims over a prior work-related incident. Jones had a long criminal history, although the defense argued that the history was devoid of physical violence. Jones’ first death sentence was overturned on appeal, in part, due to the wrongful admission of boot print evidence. The prosecution offered the boot print evidence in this retrial, and the judge admitted it on the basis that the science underlying it had improved.
Prosecutor(s): Donnie Myers
Defense lawyer(s): Beth Fullwood
Sources: Columbia State 3/13/07 (2007 WLNR 4690514), AP Alert 3/15/07 (SC 04:31:47)

Jimmy Locklair – white, age 23 (re-sentence after appellate reversal)

Sentenced to death in Spartanburg County, South Carolina
By: A jury
Date of crime: April 1995
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Locklair murdered his ex-girlfriend while he was out of jail on bail for the murder of another ex-boyfriend of hers (a charge for which he was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison). The first death sentence was overturned because the defense counsel and prosecutor failed to disclose that one of the prosecution’s witnesses was a client of the defense attorney.
Defense lawyer(s):
Sources: AP Alert 8/24/06 (SC 00:17:11)

Jeffrey Motts – white, age 29

Sentenced to death in Greenville County, South Carolina
By: a jury
Date of crime: December 8, 2005
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Motts was found guilty for the murder of fellow cellmate Charles Martin. Motts was serving two life-sentences for a 1995 double homicide. Motts beat Martin, tied him up in a bed sheet and choked him before stuffing the body under the bed and going to breakfast. The prosecution focused on his past murder convictions during the sentencing phase. The prosecutor argued to the jury that prison couldn’t keep this man from killing again, so why give him another chance. Motts spoke to the jury before they deliberated blaming the prison officials for not listening in keeping the men apart. Motts asked for sympathy so that his family would not have to suffer through his death.
Prosecutor(s): Bob Ariail
Defense lawyer(s):
Sources: AP Alert 04/21/06 (SC 20:40:09), 12/05/07 (SC 02:37:26)

Norman Starnes – white, age 31 (re-sentence after appellate reversal)

Sentenced to death in Lexington County, South Carolina
By: A jury
Date of crime: January 1996
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Starnes shot two men to death in his home. Starnes claimed he was defending himself. He then buried the two men under concrete on his uncle’s farm. His original conviction and sentence were overturned due to instructional error.
Prosecutor(s): Trey Gowdy
Defense lawyer(s): Starnes acted as his own attorney, with standby counsel John Delgado and Bill Nettles
Sources: AP Alert 11/15/07 (SC 02:14:18), Columbia State 11/19/07 (WLNR 22898463), State v. Starnes, 531 S.E.2d 907 (S.C. 2000).