CONWAY — A Conway teen, who is charged with murder and two counts of attempted murder in a January shooting in the city, will return to court at the end of the month for a Family Court judge to decide whether he should be tried as an adult in the crime.
The 16-year-old teen appeared Friday before Judge Brian Gibbons, who continued the case until March 22. An evaluation of the teen by the state Department of Juvenile Justice was not complete and must be reviewed by prosecutors and the teen’s attorney before the waiver hearing can be held.
Attorneys agreed they were not prepared for a hearing Friday.
Mike Freeman, an assistant solicitor with the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, said the evaluation of the teen was expected to arrive Friday, but that there was evidence still being processed by agents with the State Law Enforcement Division that also needed to be reviewed.
The teen and Rashad Derller Burroughs, 19, of Conway are each charged in the shooting death of Sylvester Lorenzo Bell Jr., 36, of Conway, who was pronounced dead at 12:04 p.m. Jan. 8, a day after the shooting. The juvenile was charged Jan. 11 and Burroughs was charged Feb. 25.
Burroughs is being held at J. Reuben Long Detention Center pending a bond hearing, while the teen will remain in the custody of DJJ in Columbia.
Bell’s mother and finance attended Friday’s hearing and were in tears outside of the courtroom.
Vikki Hunt, who had been with Bell for 17 years and shared three children with him, said she had left for work and Bell was waiting for their youngest daughter to get off the school bus when the shooting happened about 2:30 p.m. Jan. 7 outside their home in the 2000 block of Sixth Avenue in Conway.
Another man, who was outside with Bell, also was shot during the incident, but suffered non-life threatening injuries. Both men were treated at Grand Strand Regional Medical Center.
Police have not released any other details or a motive in the shooting.
“I had just gotten to work when I got the call about the shooting,” Hunt said Friday. “I guess he was driving through the neighborhood. For me to speak of why it happened, I have no idea. [Bell] was on the way to get the baby off the bus.”
Bell also had four other children that Hunt said she considered her family as well. Bell’s children range in age from seven to 21 and the three oldest live out of state.
“My baby turned seven a day before his birthday” on Jan. 21, Hunt said with tears in her eyes Friday. “She would say I am six and my daddy is 36.”
Eleven days before Bell’s shooting death, Conway police were called at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 27 to Ninth Avenue and Hemingway Street, where they found 53-year-old Dwayne Gaghum shot in the head and killed while driving a Dodge pickup truck that crashed into a home.
Police initially said the incident was a traffic investigation, but the next day ruled it a homicide. No other details about that incident have been released and no arrests have been made.
Both shootings prompted a Samuel Floyd Community Watch Vigil and two neighborhood walks held in the Taylor Square and Sugar Hill communities by residents to combat the violence.
But for Hunt and Bell’s mother, Aurelia Bell-Lewis, nothing will replace their loss.
“Whatever comes out is not going to bring my baby back,” Bell-Lewis said of possible outcomes of the court hearing for the juvenile. “These kids need to realize if they do a crime, they have to pay for it.”
Bell-Lewis said she has buried three family members in the last three years, including her son, whose death was one year and one day after her mother.
“I pray and I ask God and I give it to him to handle,” she said, her eyes moist with tears. “I’m putting it in God’s hands. That’s all I can do.”
Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723 or follow her at Twitter.com/tonyaroot.