(ANDERSON, SC.) Hope Phillips pled guilty in an Alford plea today in Anderson General Sessions court to Grand Larceny. The Honorable Cordell Maddox sentenced Phillips to 611 days (time served).  

 

Phillips was originally charged with Murder, Accessory after the Fact to Murder and Grand Larceny when arrested in March of 2014 in Pelzer following a shooting that left three dead and one injured.  Jared Williams, the shooter, led police on a chase through two counties following the crimes, shooting at police and finally wrecking the car that he had taken at gunpoint. Williams pled guilty in November of 2014 to three counts of Murder, four counts of attempted murder, armed robbery, grand larceny, carjacking and a weapons charge.  He received three life sentences. Williams died in prison in March of this year of a drug overdose.  

 

Phillips was originally arrested based on a surviving victim’s statement who claimed that Phillips was a willing participant in the murders.  The surviving victim has since changed her recollection of events pertaining to Phillips’ involvement, leaving the State with no evidence to go forward on the murder related charges.   Therefore, all charges pertaining to the murder have been dismissed.  The grand larceny charge stems from Phillips involvement in taking a vehicle shortly after the murders took place.    

 

(Walhalla, SC). Casey Gaines pled guilty today in Oconee General Sessions Court to 4 counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor, 2nd Degree and one count of Incest. He also pled guilty to one count of Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor, 2nd Degree from Richland County and one count of Incest. The Honorable Letitia Verdin sentenced Gaines to 18 years on each count of Criminal Sexual Conduct, 2nd Degree charges and 10 years on the Incest charges. Sentences are to be served concurrently. The defendant will be required to register as a sex offender.  

 

In February of 2014, two victims reported to the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office that they had each had sexual relationships with Gaines while they were minors. One of the victims had given birth to a child while she was 14 years of age. DNA results confirmed that Gaines was the father. The second victim had sexual relations with Gaines that began when she was 10 years     of age and continued for several years. This victim was related to the defendant within the degrees of kinship sufficient to establish incest per SC law.  

 

“Casey Gaines is a predator,” stated Solicitor Chrissy Adams. “His actions were deplorable and have affected these two girls immensely. We hope that the sentences imposed will allow these victims to begin the healing process.”

 

(Walhalla, SC). Richard Rittmayer pled guilty today in Oconee General Sessions Court to Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor, 3rd Degree. The Honorable Letitia Verdin sentenced Rittmayer to the maximum sentence of 15 years. He will receive credit for time served. The defendant will be on the Sex Offender Registry as well as the DSS Central Registry. 

 

In September of 2014, the Walhalla Police Department received a report from James M. Brown Elementary that a 4-year old student had disclosed sexual abuse to a school district staff member. A forensic interview of the child revealed that Rittmayer had sexually abused the child in July 2014. The defendant was interviewed and confessed to law enforcement that the incident had occurred while he was drinking heavily and taking pills.  

 

“Richard Rittmayer’s actions were sick and twisted,” stated Solicitor Chrissy Adams. “Being under the influence of drugs and alcohol does not justify his actions. The victim in this case deserves justice and with today’s guilty plea this defendant will spend the next decade and a half in prison. We hope that that this young child will now know that she is safe and Rittmayer cannot hurt her any more.” 

 

(Anderson, SC). Travis Devon Jones pled guilty today in Anderson General Sessions Court to Unlawful Neglect of a Child and a probation violation. The probation sentence originated with Jones’ guilty plea in March of 2014 to a possession of crack cocaine. The Honorable Daniel Hall sentenced Jones to 3 years with treatment in the Addiction Treatment Unit of SC Department of Corrections.  

 

On June 6th, the ACSO was called out to 950 Cherry Street in Pendleton in reference to a missing 11 month old child, Leonna Wright.  Jones, who was the children’s mother’s boyfriend, had been caring for Leonna and her 3 year old sister. The 3 year old was subsequently taken into DSS custody. Law enforcement was notified by DSS that the 3 year old child had tested positive for methamphetamine, cocaine, and THC, which resulted in Jones being charged with Unlawful Neglect.  The defendant admitted to using drugs while taking care of the child.  

 

“Mr. Jones’ drug use led to reckless actions,” said Solicitor Chrissy Adams.  “It is important to note that Jones pled guilty only as it relates to the 3 year old child testing positive for drugs while in his care. No criminal charges have been filed in reference to the missing child at this time. I urge anyone with information about the disappearance of Leonna Wright to contact law enforcement immediately.”