Originally created 09/12/98

State to make bid for death

AIKEN -- Solicitor Barbara Morgan on Friday filed an intent to seek the death penalty against the man accused of walking into R.E. Phelon Co. almost a year ago and killing four of his former co-workers.

Arthur Hastings Wise is charged with four counts of murder, three counts of assault with intent to kill, four counts of possession of a gun while committing a violent crime, and burglary.

An Aiken County grand jury indicted him on the charges two weeks ago.

He is accused of killing Sheryl Wood, 27, David Moore, 30, Leonard Filyaw, 31, and Charles Griffeth, 50. Three other Phelon employees -- Jerry Corley, John Mucha and Stan Vance -- were wounded in the shooting spree at the Phelon company on Sept. 15.

"I filed the intent with the court administration. I'm confident we can get this case on track," Ms. Morgan said.

However, a trial date for Mr. Wise, 44, will depend on when Ms. Morgan can schedule at least two other murder trials for which she has also filed death penalty intent.

David Mark Hill is accused of killing three Aiken County caseworkers -- Michael Gregory, 30, Jimmy Riddle, 52, and Josie Curry, 35 -- at their North Augusta office on Sept. 16, 1996.

And in Barnwell County, Gregory Braxton, 20, is charged with the shooting death of convenience store clerk Melissa "Missy" Griffiths. The 30-year-old mother of two was found lying in a field off U.S. Highway 78 in April 1997, dead from gunshot wounds.

Ms. Morgan already has filed her official notice to seek the death penalty against each defendant. Mr. Hill's trial will likely happen late this year or in 1999. But trial dates haven't been set on either case.

Now that Mr. Wise faces a possible death sentence, state law requires that a second attorney be appointed to represent him. Currently he has a single court-appointed attorney, Gregory Harlow. South Carolina Court Administration will also have to assign a trial judge to hear the case.

Police said Mr. Wise shot Mr. Vance, who was a security guard at the plant, and then walked through the plant, firing a semi-automatic handgun. He had been fired from the plant about two months earlier.

Mr. Wise is being held at Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, S.C.


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