Walhalla, SC – An Oconee County jury convicted Kenneth Strother Collins of Murder, Kidnapping and the Possession of a Weapon during the Commission of a Violent Crime today in Oconee General Sessions Court. The Honorable Scott Sprouse sentenced Collins to 30 years for Murder and 20 years for Kidnapping to be served consecutively as well as 5 years for the weapons charge to be served concurrently. The State was represented by Deputy Solicitor Lindsey Simmons who was assisted by Assistant Solicitor Jason Alderman.

 

On January 12, 2015, Jeremy Little was staying at an apartment at Walhalla Gardens where he met Collins and two other individuals. Collins purchased some methamphetamine from Little who was going to go meet with Collins later to get the rest of the money for the drugs. Sometime after 1 a.m. on January 13th, Little arrived at 505 N. Laurel Street in Walhalla where he was to retrieve money and smoke methamphetamine with Collins and others in the home. Two of the witnesses stated that when they came into the house that Collins was in a rage, brandishing a large knife and accusing Little of being an law enforcement informant. During his rage, he stabbed the victim, walked away and then returned to kick and stomp him in the face. As he lay helpless in the floor, Collins stabbed Little in the back again as one of the witnesses watched.

 

The witnesses were then forced to help Collins clean up the crime scene. The victim was stripped, gagged, bound and stuffed in a sack inside of rugs and other materials while he was still alive. Collins planned to hide the victim’s body in the attic but law enforcement arrived before they could hide him.  

 

Upon receiving two 911 calls, officers went to the location and at first found the house dark and quiet. When they went back later, they saw blood and forced entry into the house. Little’s body was found at the attic stairs but Collins and the two witnesses who were hiding in the attic were not immediately found. Several hours later, one of the witnesses fell through the ceiling from the attic where she and the others had been hiding under insulation. Collins later came down from the attic with a gun cocked in his mouth but was taken into custody before any shots were fired.

 

Although Collins claimed self-defense in this case, witness testimony and forensic evidence proved otherwise.

 

Solicitor David Wagner stated after the trial, “Kenneth Collins committed a savage attack on Jeremy Little. Jeremy Little begged for his life and Collins continued to brutally assault and stab him. Then, in a final brutal act, Collins stripped Little, bound him, gagged him and stuffed him in a bag while he was still alive in an attempt to hide his crime. Collins now has 50 years in prison to reflect on his crimes and how many people have been hurt because of his actions. Unfortunately, this will not make up for the loss of Jeremy Little to his family members and friends. However, it will prevent Collins from hurting or possibly killing someone else. I would like to thank Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and Walhalla Police Department for the excellent work done on this case.”

Anderson, SC -- On October 18, 2017, an Anderson County jury found Cole Brooks Gray guilty of the charges of Trafficking Methamphetamine, with a weight range of 100-200 grams, Receiving Stolen Goods, and Failure to Stop for a Blue Light.  Following his conviction, the Honorable Alexander S. Macaulay sentenced Gray to 25 years in jail for Trafficking, 3 years for Receiving Stolen Goods and 5 years for Failure to Stop for a Blue Light.  The case was tried by Solicitor David R. Wagner. 

 

On November 12, 2016, a Sheriff’s Deputy observed Gray run a stop sign near the Starr Community while driving a stolen 1994 Chevy C1500. The officer initiated both his blue lights and his siren but Gray failed to stop.  He then led deputies through Anderson County on a high speed chase that ended on Dixon Road only after officers barricaded a road and deployed stop sticks to deflate the tires of the truck Gray was driving.  Prior to stopping, Gray threw a large bag containing 109 grams of methamphetamine out of the driver’s window into the roadway. Following the chase another bag of methamphetamine was also found in the driver’s seat of the truck.  

 

“Cole Gray is a career criminal who put our community in danger not only by trafficking methamphetamine, but by completely disregarding public safety during a lengthy and dangerous chase with law enforcement.  Thanks to the hard work of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office he is off the streets and will no longer threaten the health and safety of the citizens of Anderson County,” said Solicitor Wagner, following the guilty verdict.  “Mr. Gray has 25 years in jail to consider how he wants to become a productive member of society.” 

On the evening of March 28, 2016, Jason Franklin Carver and his co-defendant Woodrow Curry went to 108 Sterling Bridge Road in Powdersville to collect drugs or money from Steven Cameron. Carver drove a white Buick Regal to the victim’s home with Curry in the passenger’s seat. When they arrived, the men went on to the porch and an altercation ensued. During that altercation, Curry pulled a .25 caliber gun and shot Steven Cameron twice in the chest. He died almost instantly of those injuries. Carver and Curry were each charged with Murder. Woodrow Curry pled to Voluntary Manslaughter and received a deferred sentence on Tuesday. A jury found Jason Carver guilty of Murder this afternoon. Judge Lawton McIntosh sentenced him to 30 years.

Earlier today, in Anderson County General Sessions Court, Perry Pruitt pled guilty to one count of the Destruction, Desecration, or Removal of Human Remains.  He was sentenced by Judge Lawton McIntosh to 10 years suspended to 4 years of active jail time to be followed by 4 years of probation.  He will get credit for 728 days he has already served.  The defendant entered his plea under State v. Alford, otherwise known as a “no contest” plea. 

Mr. Pruitt was the boyfriend of the victim, Patricia Ann Freeman. She was reported missing by her family in February of 2015, although it was later determined the last time she was seen was September 8, 2014.  Her body was discovered by the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office in a well on property belonging to Mr. Pruitt.  

Anderson County pathologist Dr. Brett Woodard conducted an autopsy on the victim on Feb 22, 2015.  Although her body appeared to be mostly intact upon extraction, his report notes advanced decomposition.  Upon examination, he discovered a fracture to her cervical spinal column.  However, he waited to issue a report until toxicology results were obtained.  In a report dated Aug 18, 2015, SLED toxicologist found no drugs or poisons of concern, after testing muscle tissue from the victim.  At that time, Dr. Woodard determined that the victim died from a broken neck and stated the cause of death was homicide.  Mr. Pruitt was thereafter charged with the murder of Patricia Freeman and also the destruction, desecration or removal of human remains.  While the State was preparing this case for trial, additional tissue samples from the victim collected during Dr. Woodard’s autopsy were subsequently submitted to SLED for further toxicology testing.  In a report dated Aug 17, 2017, SLED toxicologists found cocaine and its metabolite in tissues from the victim’s brain and liver.  In light of this new result, Dr. Woodard amended his findings.  Due to the levels of cocaine and its metabolite found, he was no longer able to say Patricia died from a broken neck, and ruled her cause and manner of death to be undetermined.  For this reason, the murder charge originally brought against the defendant was no longer pursued by the Solicitor’s Office.