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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Deputies: Rape suspect found shot dead in Chester County

7-30-2012 South Carolina:

RICHBURG A 16-year-old girl was raped Sunday night, and her attacker – whose criminal history spans more than 20 years – was shot to death as he walked down the road away from her Richburg home, Chester County authorities said.

Sometime between 9 and 10 p.m., deputies were called to the home to investigate a sexual assault.

A woman there told them that Michael Jermaine Terry, 39, of Lancaster had raped the girl and walked away, Sheriff Richard Smith said.

The girl called her mother, who was at work at the time, and told her about the assault, Smith said.

When deputies went down the road looking for Terry, they found him a half-mile away – lying in the road, covered in blood and not breathing.

The Herald is not naming the road where Terry was found to protect the victim’s identity.

Chester County Coroner Terry Tinker said Terry, who lived at 205 N. French St., died of a gunshot wound. Tinker would not say how many times or where on his body Terry had been shot.

In the 1990s, according to the State Law Enforcement Division, Terry was convicted of several assault and battery and disorderly conduct, drug and weapons possession, and copper theft charges. For his most recent conviction, a nonviolent burglary in 2007, he was sentenced to three years probation.

Sheriff’s investigators spent much of Monday following leads and searching for suspects, Smith said, but they had not developed anything “concrete” by the end of the day.

“This isn’t the average murder,” he said.

Deputies didn’t find any shell casings or a weapon at the scene, Smith said. They also didn’t find any witnesses to the shooting.

“If there are, they haven’t come forward,” he said.

The victim “is (doing) as well as can be expected,” Smith said. “This is definitely a tragedy for her.”

The street where the rape and shooting occurred, he said, is “a pretty quiet area.”

‘Something terrible’

On the curvy road where Mary McClinton of Richburg has made her home for more than four decades, people “wave and speak and go about their business.”

“Don’t nobody bother nobody else,” she said. “Around here, if you hear gunshots, it don’t matter ... People don’t think much of it.”

But neighbors in the area are thinking and talking.

Some, like James Jones – whose many grandchildren crowded a dirt patch in front of his home Monday afternoon – are concerned about safety.

“That’s something terrible,” said Jones, who has lived in the area for two years. “You have to be alert.”

Jones didn’t hear any gunshots or commotion Sunday night, but he did see flashing police lights.

“You usually hear about this happening in the city,” he said, “but out here in the country, that’s something new.”

Cheryl McCrorey lives just a few feet from the house where the teenager was raped.

“It’s never happened down here,” she said.

McCrorey said it wasn’t until she logged onto Facebook on Monday morning and read a post detailing the incident that she realized that Terry had been found dead just down the road from her home.

Tanya Collazo, who spent Monday watching her three grandchildren, said she heard “a loud bang” Sunday night. She went outside and didn’t see anything, but moments later, she saw emergency lights and assumed they were cops.

Collazo said she feels for the teenager – a girl she said would often stay at her home with her brother while they waited for their mother to get home from work.

“She’s a sweet girl,” Collazo said. “She’d come over and play with my grandson.”

Mary McClinton also spent time with the girl – a distant relative – who would occasionally sit in her living room on the days she didn’t visit Collazo.

“She comes down and talks to me,” said McClinton, adding that the area is usually so quiet that she leaves her doors open.

By Monday, though, McClinton’s doors were closed.

She hadn’t spoken to the girl’s family, but she did take time to remember a recent milestone in the teenager’s life.

“This month,” McClinton said, the girl ran into her house excitedly shouting, “I got my (learner’s driving) permit!” ..Source.. by Jonathan McFadden


Chester killing of rape suspect needs one thing: Facts


CHESTER — In comic books and movies, Batman wears a cape. In real life Thursday, a man who some say is the avenger of a horrible deed wore handcuffs.

There is no pat on the back from the police for killing even the alleged vilest criminal in real life if the killing does not have legal justification.

What there is is a burly jailer waking you up from a jail cell to say it is time to be told by a judge, “Mr. White, you have a charge of murder.”

Just minutes after Antwan Terrill White, that 21-year-old man with no criminal record, was asked by a judge Thursday morning if he understood the murder charge in the shooting death of an alleged rapist, tables were filled at Gene’s Restaurant in downtown Chester.

Gene’s is where all news in Chester County is digested right along with the grits over breakfast.

At one long table sat 12 men, same number you’d find in a criminal court jury. Fathers of daughters, grandfathers of granddaughters, brothers of sisters.

Juries decide if somebody is guilty.

Legal experts will tell you that juries sometimes say a person is not guilty because – regardless of the law or the facts of the case – no way can 12 people who are parents of daughters and brothers of sisters convict a man who killed a monster rapist.

White has the right to a jury trial if he wants one. A magistrate told him so Thursday morning. But that could be months, maybe years, away.

He also can claim that he just plain did not do what he is accused of by police. Courts guarantee that right for all accused.

No courts were used, though, in the accusation and death of the alleged rapist, Michael Jermaine Terry.

These dozen guys at Gene’s were asked the simple questions that haunt this killing.

Is it right for somebody to hear of a family member’s rape and then shoot the guy in the face?

Should that person have waited for the cops and courts to act?

Should this alleged shooter, not many years from wearing No. 21 on a football field for the Lewisville Lions, be charged with murder and held in jail when the victim of the killing might be an unspeakable criminal who some would say “deserved killing?”

Right off one guy at the table said, “He saved taxpayers a trial: Rapists deserve what they get.”

It was explained that the police had not had a chance to investigate the rape allegation before Terry, a career criminal, was killed. It remains unclear what happened in the alleged sexual assault, but the investigation continues.

Yet it is clear that no police officer had a chance to investigate the allegation, go before a magistrate judge with allegations and ask for an arrest warrant against Terry.

Terry was dead before anybody with a badge could ask him anything.

But another judge signed an arrest warrant against Antwan White, alleging murder, after police claimed White killed Terry.

At that hearing Thursday, Magistrate Lonnie Sloan told White – hero or not, depending on how one looks at it – how only a Circuit Court judge could set a bond in a murder case.

White asked quietly: “I can do that today, right?”

Sloan said no. White’s face dropped.

White will be in jail for at least a few more days and probably much longer. Chester County does not have a Circuit Court judge scheduled to be in criminal court to set a bond until the week of Aug. 27, said Chris Taylor, assistant solicitor.

This was now not TV or movies, where bonds are given in murder cases just in time for a commercial break. Whether some believe White should be freed and thanked or exonerated or never arrested in the first place, it is clear he will stay in jail for a while.

“He shouldn’t have to wait in jail,” said another guy at Gene’s. “It’s a damn shame he can’t get out on bond. What they say he did, the guy deserved killing.”

The tables of 12 men were appalled at the rape allegations. They were not appalled at the killing.

Then a man walked up to the table after having listened for a bit. Calvin Gore wore a Marine Corps veteran hat because he earned it in Vietnam.

Gore is also a retired magistrate judge who has heard it all in Chester County’s courtrooms.

He said he hurts for the family that is going through such horrible, terrible duress from a rape allegation through a killing and now a murder charge against a young man full of promise.

But, Gore said, what matters most is law – and facts.

“We cannot act on emotions,” he said. “We must act on facts. The facts always speak for themselves.”

It is clear that police did not have a chance to investigate the rape claim before the perpetrator was killed, Gore said.

“The facts were not established,” he said. “The man was killed before law enforcement could do its job.”

Now law enforcement is doing its job after the killing, and a young man faces a murder charge regardless of whether a community believes he might have been a protector and acted righteously.

Now it’s up to the courts to sort out the facts, Gore said.

“In most cases, the victims want justice,” he said. “And those who have done something, the defendants, want mercy.”

The rape victim might have wanted justice – justice that, to some, might have meant the killing of the awful rapist.

But Terry never got a chance at court justice or court mercy – whether he deserved it or not.

“In our system, even the worst defendants are entitled to their day in court,” said Debra Gammons, a professor at the Charleston School of Law.

It must be courts, not men, who mete out justice, said both Gammons and Gore.

It remains unclear what evidence police have that was enough probable cause to arrest White for killing Terry. No evidence was shown Thursday in court.

“That’s why we cannot act on emotion,” Gore said, “and (we must) act on facts in courtrooms.”

Gore and those 12 men at Gene’s all left the restaurant to see children, grandchildren, families.

Antwan Terrill White remained in a detention pen, facing a future that is unsure at best, as the courts get set to figure out what is fact in the death of an alleged rapist. ..Source.. by Andrew Dys


Chester County man accused of killing rapist gets $40,000 bond


A Richburg man without a criminal past but now in jail for allegedly killing the man police say raped his 16-year-old relative received a $40,000 bond in a Chester County courtroom Tuesday morning.

Sixth Circuit Court Judge Brooks Goldsmith granted a $40,000 surety bond for 21-year-old Antwan Terrill White, who police say shot and killed Michael Jermaine Terry, a 39-year-old Lancaster man believed to have raped White’s teenage relative before Terry was found dead on a rural road.

Goldsmith said White’s family, who stood behind the murder defendant as he faced the judge, only has to pay 10 percent of the bond amount to get him out of jail.

On Aug. 8, deputies arrested White, the father of a 2-year-old daughter, in connection with Terry’s murder.

Police reports and an arrest warrant indicate that on July 29 Terry went to the teenage girl’s Richburg home and raped her in the woods sometime between 9 p.m. and 9:48 p.m. After police were called to the home, officers searched for Terry.

Moments later, they found his body on the road in a pool of blood, just a half-mile from the girl’s home. Chester County Coroner Terry Tinker pronounced Terry dead at 10:07 p.m.

The Herald is not naming the road where the rape and the killing took place to protect the identity of the sexual assault victim.

Tuesday morning in court, White’s mother, father, grandfather and the mother of his child listened as Assistant Sixth Circuit Solicitor Chris Taylor said officials believe White killed Terry in retaliation for the rape.

According to police, White, after hearing about the assault, got into a car and “went in pursuit” of Terry, Taylor said. An unidentified witness who is said to have accompanied White on his search told officials that White grabbed a shotgun, found Terry walking on the road and shot him in his chest.

He then shot him again on the left side of his face, Taylor said.

In the days after the homicide, officials said they were unable to find a weapon or any shell casings near the area.

The witness, whose identity officials would not release, apparently didn’t know White intended to kill Terry, Taylor said. The witness later came forward and told police White murdered Terry.

After White’s arrest, Sheriff Richard Smith said the sheriff’s office wasn’t searching for any other suspects. Tuesday evening, he confirmed that deputies weren’t looking for anyone else “at this time.”

“There has been some physical evidence recovered” including the alleged murder weapon, Taylor said in court. “At this point, there have not been any forensic reports generated from this” by a crime lab with the State Law Enforcement Division, Taylor said.

Officials have said there is no indication that Terry didn’t rape the girl, but the incident remains under investigation.

White, a hard-working man who lives with his mother, didn’t need a court order to make him give the mother of his child $80 a week, said his attorney, Arthur Gaston. White, who works at a tools distribution center in Fort Mill, was putting money aside in a savings account so he could put his child and her mother in their own home.

He had $300 in savings.

“He of course denies any involvement in this at all,” Gaston told Judge Goldsmith. “He’s certainly not a flight risk in this case. He’s not a risk to society.”

After deputies found Terry dead, they questioned White, Gaston said. Then, they let him go.

When preparing to make an arrest, deputies called White on the phone and asked him to return to the sheriff’s office for further questioning.

“He (went) back up there voluntarily,” Gaston said.

Requesting a reasonable bond on his client’s behalf, Gaston said White’s family isn’t wealthy. “They work; they’ve got jobs. They’re just making it. They’re good people.”

Aside from one speeding charge, White’s record is clean, Gaston said.

The State Law Enforcement Division shows that Terry’s criminal history spans more than 20 years, including convictions for simple assault and battery, public disorderly conduct, drug and weapons possession and copper theft. He was sentenced to three years’ probation for his most recent conviction, a nonviolent burglary in 2007.

Tanya Crockett, the mother of Terry’s son, Michael Jermaine Terry Jr., addressed the court, saying, “I am deeply sorry about what happened.”

But Crockett, also a cousin to White, asked for “a very high bond.”

“(Terry) never got to come to court to plead guilty or innocent,” she said. “His mother is saying ‘no bond,’ but I’m reasonable because like I said that’s my family, but that’s my son’s father, as well, that’s deceased now. If a bond has to be granted, I ask that you make it high.”

After Judge Goldsmith made his decision and stressed that White could have no contact with Terry’s family, Crockett declined to give more details about Terry.

Betty Mumford, Terry’s mother, also didn’t want to disclose details about her son. She did say, “I just want justice.”

“That’s all we want – justice.”

Joining them was Terry’s son, Michael Jermaine Terry, Jr., who reiterated what his mother and grandmother said.

“Justice needs to be served,” he said.

White will have his first appearance in court Oct. 11. If he wishes, he’ll have a preliminary hearing on Oct. 25 before a second court appearance on Nov. 8. ..Source.. by Jonathan McFadden

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