Crime

N.C. man guilty of murder in shooting death of Clemson student from Fort Mill

A judge sentenced a North Carolina man to 50 years in prison Wednesday after a jury convicted him of murder in the shooting death of Steven Grich, a Clemson University engineering student from Fort Mill nearly two years ago.

The six-man, six-woman jury deliberated about 90 minutes before finding Lester Devaria Mosley Jr. guilty of murder, first-degree burglary, two counts of attempted armed robbery and possession of a weapon during a violent crime. He also was sentenced to 50 years in prison for burglary, 20 years on each of the attempted robbery charges and five years for possession of a deadly weapon. The sentences will run concurrently, 13th Circuit Solicitor Walt Wilkins said.

Mosley, 20, will receive credit for the 22 months he has spent in jail awaiting trial, Wilkins said.

Grich was killed Dec. 8, 2012, when masked intruders rushed into his off-campus residence looking for drugs.

Mosley testified that he wasn't involved and he was with friends the night Grich was killed. He said he went to a friend's house, where his brother was having his hair done, and then left with his girlfriend and others for a party at a local club.

When asked by his defense attorney if he had shot anyone or gone to Grich's home the night of the shooting, Mosley replied "No, I did not."

The defense rested its case after calling Mosley, his brother and a friend to testify.

Prosecutors concluded after calling 24 witnesses, including SLED fingerprint and firearms experts.

Circuit Judge Ned Miller denied a defense motion for a directed verdict of acquittal.

Mosley had pleaded not guilty.

In closing arguments, Mosley's attorney, Scott Robinson, challenged the state's case on the identity of the shooter, citing the lack of a concrete identification. He stressed that Mosley had an alibi.

On Tuesday, three of four men who barged into the home testified they intended to rob the students of drugs and money, but fled after their plans went horribly wrong and one was shot to death.

The three - testifying as state witnesses against Mosley - said some students were pistol-whipped and kicked after masked assailants rushed in with guns and ordered everyone to the floor.

With one screaming "Where's the dope at? Where's the dope at?" two of the assailants focused on students on the ground floor while two others ran upstairs, the men testified.

In the chaos and confusion, a shot rang out and Grich, 23, who lived at the residence, was killed.

The assailants said they targeted the home in Central because they had been told one of the residents had a large amount of marijuana.

One resident did testify he had about two pounds of marijuana that he bought for about $5,000. He testified he put the large stash in a backpack and fled with others through a bathroom window when he heard shouting and commotion, according to testimony.

The assailants testified they got only a small amount of dope from the residence.

A forensics pathologist testified that Grich was killed by a single gunshot to the chest. The pathologist testified a toxicology test showed marijuana and a therapeutic drug in Grich's system.

Mosley was the trigger man, his co-defendants testified.

Jordan Charles Dalton of Central, his brother Jaron Bradley Dalton of Six Mile, and Bernard Kadeem Ramsey of Central pleaded guilty to charges of voluntary manslaughter, first-degree burglary and possession of a weapon in the commission of a crime. They are awaiting sentencing.

In their testimony, Ramsey and the Daltons testified that Dec. 8, 2012, began innocently enough as they cut trees, watched TV and played video games.

At one point, they drove around unsuccessfully trying to score some marijuana, they testified. They then hooked up with Mosley and headed to the students' Smoke Rise Drive home, where they understood a large amount of marijuana was available, according to testimony.

They had a 9mm pistol and a .380-caliber handgun, the three testified.

Jurors listened as Wilkins, who led the prosecution effort, attempted to paint a picture of what happened after the men entered the residence.

While witnesses said they couldn't see the faces of the masked men who rushed in, each said the shortest of the four shot Grich.

Wilkins had Mosley stand in the middle of the courtroom with the much taller Ramsey, with each witness saying the shooter was closer in height to the smaller Mosley.

But defense attorney Scott Robinson repeatedly challenged the witnesses' ability to identify the assailants since they were described as wearing masks or hoodies. He also sought to point out inconsistencies in the assailants' testimony.

Students described how the men rushed in, pistol-whipped those inside and fled after Grich was fatally injured.

Kevin Keck, one of those at the residence, said he thought a warning shot had been fired but then saw Grich on the floor.

Grich didn't get up, Keck testified.

He and others asked if Grich was OK "and he had a real calm look on his face and he just said, 'no.' That was all he said. It was over," Keck, 22, testified.

Family members turned away as jurors were shown photos of the scene that included Grich's body, covered with a sheet.

Mosley eventually was arrested in Georgia.

An electrical engineering student, Grich had no apparent connection to the suspects and was known to be dedicated to his studies, authorities said at the time of the shooting.

Investigators testified they recovered a 9mm shell casing at the scene. They also testified they found the bullet, which struck Grich, wedged in his clothing.

Testimony began Monday with attorneys' opening statements, a replay of the frantic 911 call and testimony from one of the first sheriff's deputies to reach the scene.

The state's first witness, Brian Jaynes, testified he was a dispatch supervisor for the Pickens County Sheriff's Office the night the 911 call was made.

In that call, played for jurors, a panicked male voice is heard saying he heard a gunshot and "my friend's on his back, bleeding. I don't know if he's OK. I don't think he's OK."

In court, Grich's father bowed his head and clasped his hands as the 911 taped was played.

Michael Torres, a Pickens County uniform patrol sheriff's deputy and the state's second witness, testified that when he got to the scene he found two men on the floor.

One was cradling the head and shoulder of the shooting victim, who was in the living room area, Torres testified.

Witnesses were moved so investigators and emergency crews could take over, Torres testified. A heavy odor of marijuana came from a back bedroom, he testified.

Using security surveillance tape, a description of the suspects' escape vehicle was broadcast to other law enforcement agencies, Torres testified.

  Comments