A Myrtle Beach woman was sentenced to 30 years in prison Thursday after an Horry County jury convicted her of murder in the 2012 shooting of her ex-boyfriend outside the home of his new girlfriend.
Circuit Court Judge Steven John ordered Vivian Lynn Schrader-Falls, 51, to serve 30 years in a state prison in the March 31, 2012, shooting death of 46-year-old Tony Marvin Hughes. It is the minimum sentence for a murder conviction. A jury of eight women and four men presided over the case.
Schrader-Falls thanked court officials for their work on her case and apologized to her family and Hughes’ family members.
“I’m very sorry to each and every one of you that I hurt,” Schrader-Falls said while sobbing as she spoke before John sentenced her.
But moments before her statement, Hughes’ oldest son, Toney Barnes, addressed the courtroom and said his family continued to hurt from the loss of his father.
“I want to tell the defendant that I forgive her,” Barnes said. “I hope you get right with God.”
Hughes’ mother, Sarah Hughes, also thanked the court staff and attorneys for handling the case.
“I want to say thank you so much. … I can have closure now for my son’s murder,” she said.
Schrader-Falls’ attorney, Eric Fox, asked for leniency because he believed she did not intend to kill Hughes when she went to the house. Fox said she had suffered years of abuse as a domestic violence victim.
“I think she is generally horrified about what happened,” Fox said and noted accounts of violence in the relationship.
But Scott Graustein, assistant solicitor who prosecuted the case, said the accounts of prior violence came from Schrader-Falls and that on the day of the shooting she was jealous.
“There was evidence she was looking for a confrontation and not trying to avoid it,” Graustein said.
An Horry County police report showed that Schrader-Falls was arrested by Horry County police after they were called for a shooting at 8:35 a.m. March 31, 2012, in the 200 block of Bay Forge Road, which is off Clay Pond Road and Burcale Road near Myrtle Beach.
An officer found Schrader-Falls sitting in a vehicle that was parked at the end of a driveway; she had a .380-caliber semi-automatic handgun in the seat with her, according to the report. The officer took her into custody and then found Hughes face down beside a vehicle parked in the driveway closer to the house.
EMS arrived at the scene and took Hughes to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 9:05 a.m. March 31, 2012, Horry County Deputy Coroner Darris Fowler said at the time of the shooting. An autopsy showed that Hughes was shot multiple times in the upper torso and the wounds damaged vital organs.
The report showed that a 48-year-old woman lived in the home and she called police to report her boyfriend had been shot. The woman told officers that Schrader-Falls came to the house, knocked on the door and asked if Hughes was there.
The woman said she told Schrader-Falls that Hughes was not at the house and shut the door, according to the report.
The woman said Hughes told her that “it looks like ‘Vivian, my ex-girlfriend, that she was ok and I’ll go talk to her.’”
The woman said Hughes went outside and a few moments later she heard two gunshots, according to the report. The woman told police she looked out the window and saw Schrader-Falls standing over Hughes and she shot him again before she went and sat in her vehicle.
A neighbor told police he was sleeping when he heard the sound of four gunshots and saw Schrader-Falls standing over Hughes with a gun, according to the report.
The neighbor said he heard Schrader-Falls say: “I’m not going to jail.”
Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723 or follow her at Twitter.com/tonyaroot.