New sentencing hearing begins for man convicted of killing trooper in Goose Creek
CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - A Charleston County Judge will rule soon on whether to toss out a death sentence or set aside a re-sentencing date for an inmate currently on death row.
Jesse Sapp was found guilty of shooting and killing Trooper Jeff Johnson at a traffic checkpoint near College Park Road in the early morning hours of July 7, 2002.
He was sentenced on May 9, 2003 to death by lethal injection.
Sapp's attorney believes testimony from Sapp's ex-girlfriend could convince a judge to change his sentence to life in prison. They're saying Kat Boles gave inaccurate testimony during the 2003 trial because she was intimidated by prosecutors.
On Thursday, the court heard from highway patrol who were on scene that night, SLED agents, members of the Berkeley County Sheriff's office, and Boles herself.
The defense claims Boles was pressured into changing her story about the events of July 7, 2002. She testified on Thursday that she did change her original story during the 2003 trial because she didn't want to end up in jail.
During Boles' testimony Thursday, the State asked if she had suffered brain damage. Boles' responded saying she did have some from her past drug use.
The court also heard from officers with St. Stephens Police Department who would assist the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office (BCSO) narcotics unit.
The BCSO has been known to use informants to help in drug busts. One of those informants was Ronal Holliday, a friend of Boles, who was paid for his information during the mid-200s. The defense claims Holliday was part of a set up by the BCSO to arrest Boles' in 2007.
Boles' testified that the BCSO told Holliday to put methamphetamine making material at the trailer she lived in, in September of 2007 in Summerville.
Boles' was arrested and charged with methamphetamine manufacturing in 2007 and also arrested for an outstanding bench warrant. The methamphetamine case was dismissed in 2010.
An FBI investigation into the allegations of planting incriminating evidence by the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office ended in 2014 with no grand jury indictments.
Investigators say Sapp shot in order to avoid being arrested at a license check point.
Boles' testified that Sapp had talked about "suicide by a cop" to prevent himself from having to go to jail again.
Sapp was reportedly arrested after being shot several times while attempting to run from the scene.
His death sentence was upheld in October 2005 after an appeal. A new sentencing hearing was ordered in August 2009 after a judge found Sapp's attorneys for his initial trial were "ineffective" in their defense.
The State and Defense will submit further paperwork to the judge for his review behind doors.
He's expected to make his ruling sometime soon.
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