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Regional Crime & Courts

Ware Shoals man sentenced to 23 years on residential burglaries


ABBEVILLE – A Ware Shoals man with an extensive criminal history was sentenced to 23 years in prison after pleading guilty Monday to charges stemming from a string of burglaries in Abbeville County during the summer of 2022, 8th Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced Tuesday.

Charles Eugene Bryson, 40, pleaded guilty Monday afternoon to two counts of second-degree burglary (violent) and two counts of larceny enhanced in connection to a string of burglaries across Abbeville County. A trial on the charges was scheduled to begin Monday morning before Bryson elected to change his plea to guilty.

Circuit Judge Frank R. Addy Jr. then sentenced Bryson to 15 years in prison on the two burglary charges and eight years in prison on the larceny charge, with the sentences to run consecutively for a total active prison sentence of 23 years. The two burglary charges both count as “strikes” under state law, making Bryson subject to a life-without-parole sentence if he were to commit another serious crime in the future.

From June to August of 2022, investigators with Abbeville County Sheriff’s Office were working a string of at least four residential burglaries. One of the victims was able to capture the burglar, later identified as Bryson, on video. Armed with a description of the suspect and his vehicle, ACSO investigators began working with other local agencies to identify the suspect. They checked with officers at Ware Shoals Police Department who initially indicated they did not recognize the suspect. A short while later, WSPD contacted ACSO to let them know they had spotted the suspect paying his water bill in Ware Shoals.

Sheriff’s office investigators immediately went to the location and spotted the suspect and the truck from the surveillance video. Investigators did a consent search of the vehicle and located several specific items that were stolen from some of the burglaries. They then obtained a search warrant for Bryson’s residence where they located more stolen items. A canvas of area pawn shops also yielded stolen items which had been pawned by Bryson.

Deputy Solicitor Micah Black handled the case for the state, with assistance from 8th Circuit Investigator Chris Wilkie. Bryson was represented by Jane Merrill and Chelsea McNeill of the 8th Circuit Public Defender’s Office.

Solicitor Stumbo specifically praised the work of Deputy Solicitor Black and ACSO investigator Jason Mitchell in securing the conviction and lengthy prison sentence.

“We are glad that a career crook like Charles Bryson will be off of our streets for many years to come,” Solicitor Stumbo said. “I applaud the excellent investigative work done in this case by Abbeville County and Ware Shoals officers to identify and apprehend Charles Bryson. It is a privilege for my prosecutors and I to work alongside our law enforcement partners day in and day out, and we will continue to work to keep our communities a safe place to live, work, and raise a family.”