WEST ASHLEY, SC (WCSC) - A 23-year-old man who was charged with killing a woman and dumping her body in a West Ashley swamp was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Thursday.
Jesse James Murphy pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter involving the death of Kathryn Keener. Murphy and was sentenced to 25 years suspended upon the service of 12 years with three years probation.
Murphy's trial for the murder of 49-year-old Kathryn Keener began Tuesday. Keener disappeared in August 2009. Three days later her burned vehicle was found on Bears Swamp Road in West Ashley. Two days after that her body was found in the swamp.
On Sept. 17, deputies arrested now 23-year-old Murphy and charged him with Keener's murder. Investigators say that Murphy and Keener knew each other and had a relationship that involved drugs.
Investigators believe Keener was shot in the head and killed while driving her SUV. Detectives say a witness told them he saw Murphy carrying a .38 caliber revolver before Murphy allegedly met with Keener on August 1. The witness also told detectives he saw Murphy get rid of a bloody shirt that same afternoon.
The case went to trial in late June, but a judge declared a mistrial of juror shortage. One juror told the judge she could not handle the case emotionally and judge another person.
Another juror was dismissed after it came to light that the juror was related to one of the staff members in the solicitor's office.
Authorities say Ronald McKinley and Jamal Dover await their trials on accessory after the fact to felony for their roles in destroying evidence.