LEFT: ADRIAN THOMAS. RIGHT: XAVIER BURTON
ABBEVILLE – A pair of Abbeville men who entered a home brandishing a firearm to children were sentenced to a combined 32 years in prison, 8th Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced Tuesday.
Adrian Thomas, 20, of Abbeville, pleaded guilty Monday to charges of armed robbery and first-degree burglary. Circuit Judge Frank Addy Jr. then sentenced Thomas to 15 years in prison. The crimes are classified as violent and most serious under South Carolina law and therefore Thomas will not be eligible for parole or early release.
During the June term of General Sessions court in Abbeville County, Thomas’ accomplice, 21-year-old Xavier Burton, pleaded guilty to the same charges and was sentenced to 17 years in prison for his role in the home invasion. Both men elected to plead guilty as indicted the day that jury selection was to begin in their respective trials.
In May 2022, Thomas and Burton entered an Abbeville home unannounced brandishing a firearm to the four children—all under the age 14 at the time of the incident—who were in the home at the time and threatening to harm them if the children called law enforcement. The two men questioned the children about the location of any money and weapons in the home and then made off with multiple cell phones, a gaming console and a 65-inch television through the back door of the home.
Deputy Solicitor Micah Black handled the case for the state with assistance from 8th Circuit Investigator Chris Wilkie and 8th Circuit Victim Advocate Sarah Parris. Thomas was represented by Jamison Tinsley and Burton was represented by Jane Merrill, both attorneys of the Greenwood County Bar.
Solicitor Stumbo praised the work of his team, along with the team of investigators from Abbeville County Sheriff’s Office and Abbeville Police Department who conducted the joint investigation, in preparing the cases for trial and securing the lengthy prison sentences.
“The conduct of these two violent criminals – holding kids at gunpoint while robbing their home – is despicable,” Solicitor Stumbo said. “Our community has no place for menaces like Adrian Thoams and Xavier Burton, and we are glad that they will be behind bars and no a threat to our citizens for the foreseeable future.”
Laurens County Man Arrested on Child Sexual Abuse Material* Charges
COLUMBIA - South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced the arrest of Demarcus Ketravious Belton, 21, of Fountain Inn, S.C., on two charges connected to the sexual exploitation of minors. Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force investigators with the Attorney General's Office made the arrest. Investigators with the Lauren's County Sheriff's Office and Homeland Security Investigations, all also members of the state's ICAC Task Force, as well as investigators with the Fountain Inn Police Department, assisted with the investigation.
Investigators received a CyberTipline report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) which led them to Belton. Investigators state Belton possessed files of child sexual abuse material.
Belton was arrested on August 9, 2023. He is charged with two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor third degree (§16-15-410), a felony offense punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment on each count.
This case will be prosecuted by the Attorney General's Office.
Attorney General Wilson stressed all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty in a court of law.
Attorney General Alan Wilson announces twenty-four additional guilty pleas in the Prison Empire investigation
COLUMBIA – South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced that twenty-four more defendants in the Prison Empire investigation pleaded guilty to State Grand Jury charges in connection to a drug trafficking organization that operated from September 2013 to May 2021. This drug trafficking organization largely operated out of the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC), where incarcerated inmates were able to operate utilizing contraband cellular phones from within SCDC to coordinate drug trafficking with co-conspirators in the Upstate (primarily Greenville, Pickens, and Anderson Counties).
“A prison cell is no place for a cell phone. Period,” said Attorney General Alan Wilson. “Contraband cell phones pose a real threat and allow inmates to not only continue a life of criminality from behind prison walls but facilitate it outside the prison. I want to thank all our law enforcement partners and the men and women who worked so hard to bring justice in this case.”
This is the largest case in State Grand Jury history with over 90 defendants and hundreds of charges.
The case was investigated by the South Carolina State Grand Jury, which was assisted in this case by a partnership of the Attorney General’s State Grand Jury Division, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the South Carolina Department of Corrections’ Division of Police Services, the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, the Greenville County Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Enforcement Unit, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, the Edgefield County Sheriff’s Office, the Lexington County Sheriff’s Office, the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office, the Easley Police Department, the Liberty Police Department, the Pickens Police Department, and the South Carolina Governor’s Counterdrug Task Force (a unit of the South Carolina National Guard). The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Savanna Goude.
Attorney General Wilson stressed that all other defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty in a court of law.