Two men sentenced to 15 years each in prison in fatal Murrells Inlet stabbing

troot@thesunnews.comMay 16, 2013 

— Two men area men received 15-year prison sentences after pleading guilty in the slaying of one of the men’s uncle last year at a home near Murrells Inlet.

Joshua Cody Wilson, 26, of Murrells Inlet and Dustin Clifford Autry, 25, of Garden City Beach each pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and were each sentenced by Circuit Court Judge Edward B. Cottingham this week, according to court records. Each was given credit for the time served since their arrest on Sept. 5.

Each man had faced a murder charge in connection with the stabbing death of Wilson’s uncle, 44-year-old Christopher Nance, who was found dead Sept. 4 outside his home on a private road near Murrells Inlet, police said. Wilson and Autry were roommates and lived next door to Nance at the time.

Nance’s family members, who had owned Nance’s Cedar Hill Landing Restaurant in Murrells Inlet, could not be reached Thursday morning for comment.

Officers were called about 11:30 a.m. Sept. 4 to Van Buren Drive off U.S. 17 business, which is near the Georgetown County line, police said. Nance was found dead outside his home from multiple stab wounds. Police did not release a motive in the slaying.

A police report showed that Wilson told police he was walking to the barn to work out and saw Nance in the garden. Wilson said he went over to check on Nance and saw he was dead, so he called his mother, who then called police.

EMS and police arrived, but could not get close to Nance at first because of a large dog that was aggressively guarding Nance’s body, according to the report. A family member came and took the dog inside the house.

During the investigation, Horry County detectives learned that Wilson and Autry participated in the incident and disposed of the weapon in the ocean, said Sgt. Robert Kegler of Horry County police said. It was not clear what type of weapon was used.

The unpaved road leading to the home where Nance was found sits between Coastal Antiques and Coolie’s Marine Services, LLC.

Both men have previous criminal records, according to a search by the State Law Enforcement Division.

Autry pleaded guilty on July 24, 2007, to assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature before Circuit Court Judge Steven John, who sentenced him under the Youthful Offender Act to six years in prison. That sentence was suspended upon his completion of four years probation, paying $1,997 restitution and random drug and alcohol testing. John also ordered Autry to be brought before him for any violation during his probation. Details of the incident the charges stemmed from were not immediately available.

Autry also had multiple traffic charges and a shoplifting and trespassing convictions, according to court records.

Wilson’s previous criminal record includes misdemeanor traffic offenses that began in December 2006 with driving under suspension, operation of an unsafe vehicle, failure to return license plate in Myrtle Beach; an October 2008 trespassing charge in Georgetown County; and a July 2010 driving under the influence charge, according to SLED records. A second DUI offense and DUS charges were filed in June and are pending and were filed in June.

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

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