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Crash kills man who oversaw mansion

COLUMBIA — The longtime supervisor at the South Carolina Governor’s Man­sion was one of two people killed in an early-morning wreck in Columbia, authorities said Friday.

Chamberlain Branch, 48, was driving a minivan about 12:30 a.m. when he was hit by a stolen car fleeing Cayce police, according to the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

The other driver, 23-year-old Shyborn Belton, had crack cocaine and a stolen pistol when he ran a red light at 70 mph before hitting Branch’s minivan and a taxi, Cayce police said.

Branch’s van then hit a building and caught fire. Both he and Belton died at the scene, Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said. The taxi driver wasn’t injured, and three passengers in Belton’s car were sent to the hospital.

Chamberlain had supervised the Governor’s Man­sion under three administrations. Gov. Nikki Haley said her family was heartbroken at his death.

Sentence given for plot to cut off hand

COLUMBIA — The 58-year-old ringleader of an insurance scheme that involved cutting off the hand of a mentally disabled man has been sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Federal prosecutors say David Player controlled the man’s affairs and gave him a small amount of money to have his hand cut off in May 2008.

Player then spent the $670,000 in insurance money on himself.

Also sentenced Friday was Gerald Hardin, 34, who was ordered to spend three years, five months in prison for taking $5,000 to help with the scheme.

Authorities say the men tied the victim’s arm to a tree branch and cut it off with a pole saw. Doctors were not able to reattach the hand.


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