Columbia Man Found Guilty of Attempted Murder in Shooting at Local Motel

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August 10, 2023

Antonio Lavar Bethel, 36, was convicted of Attempted Murder by a Richland County jury on Wednesday August 9, 2023, after shooting a Columbia resident in the head.  In the early morning hours of April 19, 2019, at the Motel 6 on Nate’s Road in Columbia, Bethel got into an argument where he exchanged physical blows with the victim.  Surveillance footage from the incident shows an enraged Bethel breakaway from the fist fight to retrieve a gun from his nearby by vehicle.  Once armed, he charged at the victim and shot him in the head before ultimately fleeing the scene. A few moments later, here turned to not only cleanup the crime scene, but to also steal the victim’s phone as he lay incapacitated on the ground.

When Bethel was later arrested by the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, he was found to be carrying the same gun used during this incident. He initially denied involvement in the shooting by claiming his identity to be that of his identical twin brother, however at trial, he changed his story and claimed to have acted in self-defense.

Although the victim survived the gun shot to his head, he now suffers from a permanent brain injury. Despite the challenges he now faces daily, he was bravely able to come to court to tell the jury his story.

Circuit Court Judge Daniel Coble presided over the three-day trial and sentenced Bethel to 15 years in prison.  Senior Assistant Kathryn Cavanaugh and Assistant Solicitor Joe Kreush presented the case for the Richland County Solicitor’s Office.

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