Columbia – On Friday, August 30, 2019, a Richland County jury found Charles Brandon Barham guilty of murder, burglary in the 1st degree, conspiracy, and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. Their verdict comes almost on the four year anniversary of the murder of Charles Kusko Jr. in his home on Budon Court in the city of Columbia.
Prosecutors presented to the jury that in the early morning hours of September 6, 2015, the defendant drove Floyd Owen to the home of Mr. Kusko. He gave Owen a gun and stood in the front yard of Mr. Kusko’s house while Owen went inside. Owen shot Mr. Kusko in the back of the head as he slept in his home.
The defendant was the nephew of Mr. Kusko.
The case went cold until June of 2017, when a witness told an investigator that Owen admitted to her he had killed Mr. Kusko. That interview led to another witness to whom Owen also confessed. The Columbia Police Department then took out warrants on Owen for murder, burglary 1st, conspiracy, and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime
Owen fully confessed to police. He told investigators that he and Barham were at a residence where they consumed alcohol and drugs. They then went to Owen’s house where they continued drinking and formed their plan to murder Mr. Kusko. Barham then drove them to Mr. Kusko’s house.
They parked down the street from the house and both walked to the house. Barham served as lookout in the front yard. Owen entered through the porch and then broke a window of the home which he entered. Once inside he found Kusko lying in bed asleep. He shot him twice in the back of the head. Barham drove him away. They discarded the handgun in a wooded area. Investigators attempted to locate the gun by conducting a grid search of the area but were unsuccessful in the effort.
After Owen’s confession, warrants went out for Barham. Barham denied involvement to police.
Owen pleaded guilty to all counts on August 20, 2019. Assistant Solicitors Vance Eaton, John Conrad, and Peter O’Reilly represented the State during the weeklong trial of Mr. Barham. The jury heard from numerous witnesses including Mr. Owen. At the end of the trial, the jury returned a guilty verdict on all counts after three hours of deliberation.
The Honorable DeAndrea G. Benjamin presided and has deferred sentencing for Barham to a later date.
Under South Carolina law when two people commit a crime together both are responsible for the crime regardless of who pulls the trigger. This is often referred to in the law as the theory of the “hand of one” which is shorthand for the idea that the hand of one is the hand of all.
Byron E. Gipson
Solicitor, Fifth Judicial Circuit