CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - One of three suspects in the 2009 murder of Kate Waring pleaded guilty Friday afternoon to a lesser charge and two other charges in exchange for a possible reduced sentence and her continued assistance to police in the ongoing investigation.
The reduced charges come at a price, said 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson. Heather Kamp would have to continue helping the prosecution in developing the case against her two alleged co-conspirators. If she does that, Wilson said she would ask that Kamp's sentence be reduced.
The sentencing phase was deferred.
Kamp, 31, reached a plea agreement with Wilson on charges of voluntary manslaughter, forgery and obstruction of justice on Aug. 5., after almost a year after being arrested along with her Ethan Mack, 29, who is charged with murder and Terry Williams, 31, who is charged with obstruction of justice.
The maximum sentences for voluntary manslaughter, forgery and obstruction of justice -- 30 years, 10 years and 5 years, respectively -- is less than the possible sentence Kamp would face if convicted of murder.
The judge told Kamp she would not be eligible for parole on the voluntary manslaughter conviction and that she had to serve at least 85 percent of her sentence.
While the news for Kamp and her legal team was relatively good, her day in court did not come without more grisly details about the night Waring died.
Wilson said growing tensions between Kamp, Mack and Waring had Mack thinking about murder. According to Wilson, Waring introduced the two who would later become lovers and key suspects in Waring's murder. As their interest in each other grew, their anger at Waring did, too, Wilson said.
Kamp told investigators Mack asked Waring to play a game and asked her to crawl inside a suitcase the night she died. When Waring tried to get into the suitcase, Mack tased her repeatedly and then hit her in the head with a wine bottle, knocking her unconscious, Wilson said.
Waring, still alive after the assault, was dumped in the bath tub where she later drowned, Wilson said.
"At that point Ms. Waring was still alive, although it doesn't appear she was conscious," Wilson said. "She was alive and breathing. She was put in the tub and she drowned."
Waring's body was dumped in a rural area of Wadmalaw Island near Mack's workplace at the time. Her body would not be found for four months. Wilson told the judge it was Kamp who led investigators to Waring's body.
Three days after Waring's disappearance in June 2009, Mack and Kamp tried to deposit a fake $4,500 check at the South Carolina Federal Credit Union on Folly Road, investigators said.
Williams was arrested in late October of 2009, almost two weeks after Mack and Kamp had been arrested. He was charged with obstruction of justice, but an affidavit released by police stated Williams was hired to help move Warning's body.
The affidavit claimed Waring's iPod was given to Williams as payment. His bond was eventually reduced to $20,000.
However, Williams' attorney Steve Rodenburg said Friday afternoon Williams may face additional charges of accessory after the fact. That charge will be discussed by the grand jury in September.
Williams and Mack will likely stand trial together on Oct. 4, Rodenburg said. When asked if Williams was willing to cooperate for a plea deal, Rodenburg said it was a possibility, but did not disclose any specifics of that deal. Williams is currently under house arrest.
Mack and Kamp remain jailed at the Charleston County Detention Center with $200,000 bonds each. According to county records, the couple applied for a marriage license in September, 2009.
The case was placed under a gag order since late October to prevent witnesses from talking to the media. A source familiar with the court system said a murder case could take up to two years to play out in court.