Witnesses say argument over TV led to shooting as murder trial begins in Conway

troot@thesunnews.comFebruary 12, 2013 

— A dispute over a 47-inch plasma television ended in the March 2011 shooting death of a 25-year-old Murrells Inlet man, according to officials and witnesses who testified Tuesday in the start of a trial for a Surfside Beach man charged with murder.

Kareem Shamel Harry, 28, is one of five people charged in connection with the death of Kevin Bowens, who died an hour after being shot three times at about 9:30 p.m. March 1, 2011, outside his home at 9601 Drayton Court in the Kings Grant Subdivision in Murrells Inlet.

Harry is charged with murder and has been held at J. Reuben Long Detention Center on $75,620 bond since his arrest on March 3, 2011, according to jail records. He also faces drug and domestic violence charges.

Also charged with murder in Bowens death were Thomas Gifford Byrne, 21, of Myrtle Beach and Saire Jerrel Castro, 23, of Myrtle Beach. Charges are pending against Byrne, while Castro pleaded guilty to manslaughter in September and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Amanda Lee Byrne, 24, of Myrtle Beach and Sage Lee McPhail, 21, of Loris, also each face charges of accessory after the fact of murder in connection with Bowens death. Those charges are pending

Ashley Bledsoe, who also is charged with murder in the killing, testified Tuesday that she was Harry’s girlfriend and had sold the television to Bowens, but he never paid her for it.

The 20-year-old woman told a jury of seven men and seven women, including two alternates, that a couple days after she met Bowens, she went out to a restaurant and to a club with him before they returned to her apartment early Feb. 28, 2011. Later that day Bowens left with the television and was supposed to return with $400, but never did.

Bledsoe said she told Harry a woman purchased the television because she was afraid of him, while she told Bowens the television had belonged to a female friend.

But Harry demanded the money for the television because he had to appear before a probation officer the next day, Bledsoe said.

Bledsoe said she then told Harry about selling the television to Bowens and Harry wanted the television back. Bledsoe testified Bowens had stopped returning her telephone calls and text messages, so Harry demanded she show him where Bowens lived.

Bledsoe testified Harry picked her up, drove her to the home of Castro and Byrne, where she sat in a borrowed pickup truck before Harry returned and the other two men followed behind them in another vehicle. Bledsoe testified she directed them to Bowens’ home where Harry confronted him about the television in the driveway.

Bledsoe said she did not see the shooting because she had turned to walk back to the truck, but Harry forced her to drive away from the home afterward.

While they were driving, Horry County police were alerted to the shooting and Sgt. Bill Muldoon was on patrol in the area and saw the vehicles fleeing.

Muldoon testified he and another officer chased the vehicles along McDowell Shortcut road before they stopped.

Harry jumped from the truck and ran away, but Muldoon took Bledsoe into custody.

Another officer stopped the other vehicle and took Castro and Byrne into custody, Muldoon testified.

After the shooting, police said they took Castro to the south precinct along Scipio Lane for questioning, but he suddenly ran from the building. Bloodhounds were sent out to search for Castro, but were unable to locate him.

Castro was arrested in April in Lakeland, Fla., and returned to Horry County.

Josh Holford, an assistant solicitor with the 15th Circuit, told jurors at the start of the trial that Harry did not pull the trigger, but plotted and took Castro and others to Bowens house to commit the crime.

“This trial is about murder over a television. Mr. Harry planned it, got people together and went to the victim’s house,” Holford said. “It was the defendant’s actions. It was the defendant’s scheme in getting the shooter.”

Holford said he didn’t know why Bowens wouldn’t pay for the television or return it, but Harry’s actions were not appropriate.

“If you feel like you’ve been wronged by someone else, you can not go get people with guns and confront someone,” Holford said.

But Harry’s attorney, Ed Chrisco, told jurors that witnesses told one story to police and the jurors would hear different versions of what happened during the course of the trial this week.

“Mr. Harry, Ms. Bledsoe, and Mr. Byrne were there with Saire Castro, who was the shooter in this case. You will never see a trial for Mr. Saire Castro for murder,” Chrisco said. “This case is all about a couple of people getting nothing and I will explain that later.”

The trial expected to continue the rest of the week..

Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723 or follow her at Twitter.com/tonyaroot.

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