Jury finds Simmons guilty; judge hands down 25-year sentence

Jeff DeGrow, left, and suspect Brandon Simmons
Jeff DeGrow, left, and suspect Brandon Simmons

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A little more than an hour passed before jurors returned to a Charleston County courtroom to announce they had found Brandon Simmons guilty of shooting a deputy several times in the face and chest.

Simmons was found guilty of assault and battery with intent to kill. He was also found guilty of possessing a weapon during the course of committing a crime.

Judge Deadra Jefferson sentenced Simmons to the maximum 25-year prison sentence for the assault and the gun possession charges.

The sentences are to run consecutively, Jefferson said.

Before Simmons was sentenced, Lisa DeGrow, former deputy Jeffrey DeGrow's wife, spoke. She said Simmons "left him to die."

"You took away his career," she said.

When the former deputy spoke, he advised Simmons to reflect on his criminal activity. "I hope you take the time that you are in jail to make a change in your life," he said.

The DeGrows asked the judge for the maximum sentence -- 20 years for the assault charge, 5 years for the gun possession charge.

The jury was sent to deliberate on the fate of Brandon Simmons shortly after 4 p.m. Friday. Deliberations came after the jury heard a week's worth of testimony.

Solicitor Scarlett Wilson and defense attorney Beattie Butler both delivered hour-long closing arguments, driving home the points of their case in a final plea to the jury.

"You have direct evidence. Brandon Simmons is a would-be cop-killer," Wilson said.

Butler said the evidence in this case is stronger against Simmons' brother Akeem Simmons than the defendant. Butler showed the jury a picture of the brothers together and asked what would have happened if DeGrow saw Akeem Simmons in a suspect lineup instead of Brandon Simmons.

Defense attorneys for Simmons rested their case without calling a single witness. Brandon Simmons was asked if he would be testifying and he declined the opportunity. It was expected that the defense would call at least four witnesses.

Both sides will make closing arguments Friday afternoon, making it appear that the case may wrap up Friday evening.

The jury spent much of the morning hearing the testimony of a SLED agent, to help corroborate the testimony of Curtis Williams and former deputy Jeff DeGrow.

The prosecution called experts to testify Thursday about evidence found at the scene where Deputy Jeff DeGrow was shot several times.

A State Law Enforcement Division investigator testified that Simmons had gunshot residue on his jacket. However, the defense pointed out that two other men, who are also charged in the shooting, also had gunshot residue on their clothing.

After the sentence was read, an angel charm was returned to DeGrow. His wife had given him the charm just weeks before the shooting and for the last year it has been stored in evidence.

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