Death row ends 10-year-old case

The decision Wednesday by an Edgefield County jury to give Steven Louis Barnes the death penalty for the 2001 murder of a 16-year-old Augustan marks the end of nearly a decade of litigation that spread across three counties.


The jury took just over an hour to impose a death sentence on Barnes. He will join 54 other inmates on South Carolina's death row, according to Josh Gelinas, the communications director for the South Carolina Department of Corrections.

Barnes was considered the ringleader for a group of six people implicated in the kidnapping and shooting death of Samuel J. Sturrup Jr. on Sept. 3, 2001.

In the years since, Barnes has bounced around correctional facilities in Georgia and South Carolina.

He was first taken into custody in 2002 after authorities shut down a prostitution ring operating in Richmond and Columbia counties. At the time, Barnes was the owner of AA Angels Escort Service, which peddled sex with teenage women.

Victims and witnesses came forward claiming Barnes had beat and raped them while they were employed in his escort service. In one case, Barnes was accused of beating a woman with a metal bat, forcing her into a house and raping her because she would not work for him.

In 2003, a Columbia County jury convicted him and a cohort on charges of armed robbery after they drove two prostitutes to a Pleasant Home Road residence, and then came back to rob the clients.

He was serving a life sentence for that case when he went on trial for Sturrup's murder in Edgefield last week.

"We had an agreement that they go first and when they got through they bring him over here," said Donnie Myers, the solicitor for South Carolina's 11th Judicial Circuit, which includes Edgefield.

Once in South Carolina, Myers said Barnes was a difficult inmate. In 2007 he was given a 15-year sentence for throwing urine on a jailer.

It was the latest in a series of incidents in which Barnes had lashed out at jailers and fellow inmates, Myers said.

"We had him in the Edgefield County Jail but he caused so much trouble over there," Myers said.

Barnes has been in Lieber Correctional Institution near Ridgeville, S.C., since 2008 and will likely be returned there because it is also where the state houses death row inmates.

After his arrest in Columbia County, authorities connected him to the slaying of Sturrup several months earlier.

Witnesses told police that Sturrup had befriended Barnes and, on Labor Day weekend, Barnes accused Sturrup of stealing money from him.

Barnes ordered five others to shoot Sturrup before he took the final shot himself -- hitting Sturrup in the head.

Man sentenced to death for Edgefield murder
Six convicted in teen's 2001 death

Six people connected to the shooting death of 16-year-old Samuel J. Sturrup Jr., in 2001 are in prison:

STEVEN L. Barnes : Age 31; life for armed robbery and kidnapping in Columbia County; 15-years for throwing urine on a correctional employee in Edgefield; death penalty for murder in Edgefield County; incarcerated at Lieber Correctional Institution near Ridgeville, S.C.

CHARLENE A. Thatcher: Age 27; 18 years for armed robbery in Columbia County and aggravated assault in Richmond County; Metro State Prison in Atlanta.

ANTONIO GRIFFIN: Age 27; 18 years for aggravated assault in Richmond County; Ware State Prison in Waycross, Ga.

RICHARD CAVE: Age 28; 18 years at for aggravated assault in Richmond County; Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Ga.

ALEXANDER L. Hunsberger: Age 32; life for kidnapping; Wheeler Correctional Facility in Alamo, Ga.

JULIO A. Hunsberger: Age 32; life for kidnapping; Smith State Prison in Glennville, Ga.

Source: Georgia Department of Corrections; Richmond County Sheriff's Office

Death Penalty in South Carolina

Steven Louis Barnes will join 54 other inmates, all male, on South Carolina's death row at Lieber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville after his sentencing Wednesday.

The death penalty was re- instituted in South Carolina in December 1969 and in that time the state has executed 42 people, according to the most recent statistics from the Death Penalty Information Center.

The sentence is imposed by a jury and the executions are carried out at the Broad River Capital Punishment Facility in Columbia.

Those convicted of a capital crime can choose to be executed by lethal injection or the electric chair.

The governor has the sole ability to grant clemency for death row inmates, however, some sentences are overturned.

The most recently the case was that of Edward Lee Elmore, 51, of Greenwood -- the state's longest-serving death row inmate. He was spared from execution when a state circuit court ruled he suffered from mental retardation. He was sent to death row in 1982 for sexual assault and murder.

Source: South Carolina Department of Corrections; Death Penalty Information Center.