SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCSC) - A man was convicted Thursday of killing his estranged wife in the parking lot of a Summerville restaurant more than a year ago. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
A jury in St. George deliberated for about 90 minutes Thursday before convicting 48-year-old Randal Benton of murder.
Benton was sentenced to life in prison without parole in the Oct. 30, 2010, death of 36-year-old Treva Benton.
Randal Benton told the jury he did not remember shooting his wife eight times and then driving more than 350 miles away.
Benton had testified he separated from his wife six months before the shooting but said they remained in touch and involved.
Defense attorney John Loy says his client still loved his wife and reached a breaking point when he thought she was involved with another man.
Benton was offered an Alford plea in January, but it was rejected by a judge after he didn't admit the facts would likely prove his guilt. That plea would have given him Benton a 40-year sentence with no chance of parole. Instead, he is sentenced to life in prison without parole.
After shooting his wife in 2010, Benton fled and made his way across the George-Alabama border to the small town of Phenix City. He was found and arrested in Alabama.
A woman witnessed the shooting and described what she saw back in 2010.
"He started shooting her. He fired about seven to nine shots at her close range," the witness said. "He pointed the gun at me and told me to get back inside, so I didn't argue with him."