Brothers Ira and Sadaris Banks lived in the darkness beneath an overpass in North Charleston with rats scampering about and wild chickens pecking at the earth.
The brothers slept on mats and cooked their meals on a portable grill. A nearby church provided them water, and every few days they would head over to another brother's house for a shower.
The two siblings, little more than a year apart in age, didn't have much. But they had each other. “That was my right-hand grip,” Ira said, clenching his fist. “That's how close we were.”
Ira, 48, said they drank beer and used crack cocaine. Ira said his drug use was mostly recreational, but it became an addiction for Sadaris, 46.
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About 7 a.m. on April 4, Sadaris was found badly beaten under a tree in a field off Bennett Yard Road.
“Banks had a broken jaw, skull fractures and his teeth were broken off and lodged in his throat,” an affidavit said.
Ira said Sadaris owed his assailants drug money.
“They left him to die like a dog,” Ira said. “I feel bad that I wasn't with him that night to protect him. That was my baby brother.”
At Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital, Sadaris was in a coma for more than a month. A respirator kept him breathing.
“I just couldn't see him like that,” Ira said. “I cried every time I went over there.”
On May 8, another brother stayed overnight at the hospital with Sadaris. Clevonne Banks, 52, the oldest of the family's seven siblings, was worried about Sadaris.
At home the next night, Clevonne got a phone call from a coroner asking for permission to do an autopsy. That's the way he learned his brother had died, Clevonne said.
Ira is off the streets now, living with Clevonne.
“When I found out what happened to Sadaris, I went and got (Ira). I don't want him to fall into the same pitfalls,” Clevonne said. “I lost one brother. I don't want to lose another one.”
Ira recently visited the overpass and collected some of his clothing. On a metal beam he found a book that Sadaris had been reading before his death. The title: “The Purpose Driven Life.”