Man sentenced for tossing drugs, contraband over fence at KCI

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By Chris Sardelli

 Christopher Sardelli


After several hours of deliberation, a jury returned guilty verdicts on Wednesday, July 16, for a West Columbia man charged with tossing contraband over the fence of Kershaw Correctional Institution last year. 

Shawn Lee Wyatt, 30, was sentenced to 10 years in the S.C. Department of Corrections after being convicted of attempting to furnish contraband to an inmate, possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana, according to a press release from 6th Circuit Solicitor Doug Barfield. The charges stem from a July 12, 2013 incident outside KCI.  

Circuit Court Judge DeAndrea Benjamin of Columbia presided over the case. 

A jury was seated for the trial Monday morning, and witnesses testified both Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.  

The jury deliberated for about five hours Tuesday afternoon and about four hours Wednesday morning before returning guilty verdicts on all four of Wyatt’s charges, the release said. 

Wyatt had convictions on his criminal history dating back to 2001, including a 2011 conviction for manufacturing methamphetamine from Spartanburg County, which made the crack cocaine and cocaine charges in this case second offenses, the release said.  

The judge sentenced Wyatt to 10 years each on the contraband, crack cocaine and cocaine charges and five years on the marijuana charge, though they will all be served concurrently.  Barfield said the crack cocaine and cocaine charges are considered “no parole” offenses, so Wyatt will have to serve at least 85 percent of those sentences.  

The case was investigated by the S.C. Department of Corrections and the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office which analyzed the drugs in the case.  

Wyatt was represented by Assistant Public Defender Brandon Steen, and the case was prosecuted by Barfield.   

The case

Wyatt was arrested during the early morning hours of July 12, 2013 after an officer noticed someone throw something over KCI’s fence, at 4800 Gold Mine Highway. 

It was about 5:45 a.m. when a correctional officer in one of the towers along KCI’s perimeter saw a man run from the woods on the west side of the prison, drop several packages onto the perimeter road and then toss them one-by-one over three fences surrounding the prison and a recreational field, the release said. The man then ran back into the woods.  

First responders from KCI went to the recreational field and found eight oblong packages wrapped in black duct tape. Inside the packages were nine cell phones, seven cell phone chargers, about 15 small bags of tobacco, a small bag containing 21 over-the-counter pills, two bags filled with a total of almost two ounces of marijuana, a bag containing 3.21 grams of cocaine, and a bag filled with 4.58 grams of crack cocaine, the release said.

During a search by Lancaster County sheriff’s deputies, Wyatt was found nearby a few minutes later walking along S.C. 601 toward Kershaw.  

The correctional officer from the tower later identified Wyatt as the man he saw tossing the items over the fence, the release said.  

According to a Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office incident report from that day, when deputies ran a background check on Wyatt through the National Criminal Information Center database, it showed he was wanted by the Swansea Police Department in Lexington County on an outstanding drug paraphernalia charge. He was then arrested by the deputies and jailed at the Lancaster County Detention Center. 


Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416