State Supreme Court upholds sentence of man convicted of 2014 murder

Published: Nov. 21, 2019 at 4:15 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Supreme Court has ruled the sentencing of a Lowcountry man convicted of murder in a fatal stabbing in 2014 constitutional.

Terrell Smith was 17 years old when he killed Brandon Bennett and attempted to stab Bennet’s father and was convicted two years later.

Smith was sentenced to 35 years in prison for murder and 30 years for attempted murder. It is state law that an adult or a teen convicted of murder must be sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison.

He appealed his sentencing to the state circuit court claiming his sentencing was unconstitutional because juveniles and adults should not be considered the same for sentencing and the law doesn’t allow for consideration of the unique characteristics of youth.

The circuit court denied Smith’s motion, saying the sentencing was constitutional.

Smith than appealed to the Supreme Court who heard his case on Oct. 15 of this year.

The court ruled Wednesday the sentencing was constitutional, stating that the United States Supreme Court may rule someday that the Eighth Amendment prohibits any type of mandatory sentencing but until that has not happened.

Authorities said the murder happened on June 11, 2014, when Darryl Bennett awoke and checked in on his son who was asleep in his bedroom.

According to prosecutors, Darryl Bennett then began to go about his day, and sometime later, he heard a scuffle in his son’s bedroom, so he went back to investigate. Prosecutors say Darryl Bennett saw Smith standing over his son, stabbing him repeatedly. Authorities said Darryl Bennett ran to Brandon’s aid, grabbing Smith to get him off of his son.

A report states that during the struggle, Darryl Bennett said in horror, “You stabbed my boy!” to which Smith replied “I’ll kill you, too!”

Darryl Bennett was shoved into another room and Smith pounced on him, according to prosecutors.

Authorities said with his last dying effort, Brandon Bennett tried to save his dad which gave Darryl Bennett enough time to bite Smith’s forearm, causing Smith to drop the knife.

Proseuctors said Smith then ran from the house and was located and arrested four days later after he fled to Birmingham, Alabama, and was extradited to South Carolina for trial.

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