Jury Finds Man Guilty of Double Homicide and Other Charges
April 26, 2023
Columbia – On April 20, 2023, Ernest Bethel was found guilty by a Richland County Jury of two (2) counts of Murder, two (2) counts of Attempted Murder, and Possession of a Weapon for his role in a 2019 shooting that left two people dead and two others with life threatening injuries.
On August 22, 2019, Richland County Sherriff’s Department officers responded at approximately 2:28am to shots fired at McCary’s Bar and Grill at 851 Bush River Road. Upon entering the bar, officers discovered four victims suffering from gunshot wounds to include Tolliver Wise, who died at the scene, Christopher Lott, who ultimately died in surgery, Cameron Jenkins, who was shot in the neck, and Gregory Martin, who was shot in the abdomen. A dozen spent shell casings from the Defendant’s gun were located at the scene.
Video footage from McCary’s surveillance system captured the entire incident from multiple cameras located both inside and outside of the bar. Despite having been previously banned from the bar, the Defendant showed up armed with a pistol attempting to come inside. Once he entered the location, employees and patrons attempted to remove him and ultimately got him back outside the front door. It was at this point that the Defendant pulled a pistol from his pants and fired through the closed front door striking the four victims and narrowly missing several others.
The trial began on April 17, 2023 and guilty verdicts were returned on all five charges. The Honorable Clifton Newman sentenced Bethel to a total of 55 years in prison which was comprised of concurrent 50 year sentences for the Murders of Wise and Lott, concurrent 30 year sentences for the Attempted Murders of Jenkins and Martin, and a consecutive 5 year sentence for Possession of a Weapon. Deputy Solicitor Dan Goldberg and Assistant Solicitor Nick Fowler prosecuted the case for the Fifth Circuit Solicitors Office.