Originally created 01/31/05

Man takes plea deal in 1994 killings



FLORENCE, S.C. - A man who spent nearly a decade in prison for killing a Marlboro County woman before his conviction was overturned has reached a plea agreement with prosecutors that will likely keep him from going back behind bars, his attorney said.

Martin McIntosh, 39, pleaded guilty this month to misprision of a felony and agreed to testify against Johnny "Ringo" Pearson, the only defendant in the case who has not yet been tried.

Darlene Patterson's body was found partly submerged in a pond in November 1994. She had been strangled to death, with duct tape around her ankles, hands and head.

The plea should keep McIntosh from going back to prison, according to his lawyer, John "Jay" Ervin III.

"The maximum sentence for misprision of a felony is 10 years, and he's already served that," Ervin said.

McIntosh was convicted of murder, but the state Supreme Court overturned the conviction last year, ruling a prosecutor should not have asked McIntosh why he had an alibi at his trial but didn't give one to police after he was arrested.

A judge allowed McIntosh to return home to New York until Pearson's trial, Ervin said.

"He's from New York and has family there, and the victim's family and the sheriff's office indicated they would prefer that he didn't stay in Marlboro County, so it's better for everyone involved that he go back to New York," Ervin said.