Death penalty may stalk Barnwell man

HAMPTON - Duffie Stone, the 14th Circuit Solicitor, announced Monday, May 17 that his office would seek the death penalty for at least one of the subjects charged in the 2007 slaying of Lena store owner Ronnie H. Wooten, Sr.

Lena is a small community in Hampton County.

Joseph Davis, 27, of Southgate Trailer Park, U.S. 278, Barnwell, formerly of Route 1, Box 11A, Estill, was arraigned on charges of murder, armed robbery and burglary in connection with the Wooten case during an appearance in general sessions court in Hampton County May 17.

Davis is one of several suspects charged in the June 23, 2007 robbery and murder of Wooten at his Lena store on 1550 Browning Gate Road, Estill.

Davis pleaded not guilty to all three charges during Monday's court session and requested a jury trial for each of the charges.

According to a spokesperson for Stone's office, if Davis is convicted on the murder charge, then Stone will seek the death penalty because of the aggravating circumstances surrounding the murder.

Also charged in connection with the Wooten murder are Derrick Adkins, 23, of 1535 Columbia Highway, Estill. Five other suspects have been charged in connection with Wooten's robbery or with the burglary of his store.

Davis is also one of several subjects charged in the murder of Antonio Holmes, 22, of Lynn Street, Gifford. A joint investigation into the Holmes murder by the Hampton County Sheriff's Office and the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division led authorities to arrest Davis and several other subjects connected with gang activity.

Police believe that the Holmes murder was gang-related and connected with the Wooten murder.

Davis is being represented by attorney Stephanie Smart Gittings.

A date for Davis' trial has not yet been set. The S.C. Chief Justice will appoint a circuit court judge to hear this case.