Judge delays decision on sentence reduction of man convicted in 2012 meth lab explosion

VIDEO: Man convicted in deadly meth lab explosion, fire appeals sentence
The May 31, 2012 fire destroyed more than a dozen units at Pine Harbour Apartments in Goose Creek. (Source: Live 5)
The May 31, 2012 fire destroyed more than a dozen units at Pine Harbour Apartments in Goose Creek. (Source: Live 5)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A judge delayed his decision Thursday on whether a man serving 30 years for a meth lab explosion and fire in Goose Creek that killed three people should get his sentence thrown out or reduced.

Shonni Abernathy pleaded guilty in 2013 in connection with the explosion and fire at Pine Harbour Apartments in Goose Creek. He asked the judge to reduce or throw out his sentence Thursday morning.

Abernathy claims his lawyers never told him he had a right to appeal it.

From the witness stand in federal court Thursday morning, Abernathy testified his attorney also told him he had no reason to appeal his sentence.

However, the attorney Cameron Blazer testified she told Abernathy he had the right to appeal, but that his chances of getting his sentence reduced were not good.

Blazer also testified Abernathy told her he didn't want to appeal because he "didn't want to put anybody through this anymore."

Family members of Samuel Garbe attended Thursday's hearing.

"I thought it was a done deal," Garbe's maternal grandmother Teresa Shenot said after the hearing. "A lot of anxiety, very emotional, going through it all over again, seeing him all over again."

The fire happened at the Pine Harbour Apartment Complex on May 31, 2012.  It destroyed over a dozen units in the apartment located on Harbour Lake Drive.

Investigators say a used, one-pot meth lab was found in the apartment where the fire began, as well as other chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine. They also say the two men made meth in the apartment on numerous occasions.

Abernathy's daughter, 19-year-old Morgan Abernathy, was one of the victims in the fire, along with her 4-year old cousin Samuel Garbe.  Joseph Raeth, 69, was living in an adjacent apartment at the time of the explosion and was also killed.

A second man, Jerald McCabe is serving a 25 year sentence.

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