An Andrews man escaped a possible death sentence Thursday with his guilty plea for the 2007 slaying of a Litchfield Beach woman.
Shane Earl Lawshe, 36, pleaded guilty in a Georgetown County courtroom to murder, and one count each of first-degree burglary, first-degree criminal sexual conduct, second-degree arson and two counts of second-degree burglary. Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Culbertson accepted the plea and sentenced Lawshe to life in prison without parole, as part of the plea agreement, said 15th Circuit Solicitor Greg Hembree.
Lawshe, dressed in a white shirt and grey pants, told the court Thursday that he was not promised anything or threatened to plea guilty, that he was satisfied with his attorneys, and that he was "sorry."
"This is not a day for us to do a lot of talking," said local attorney Tommy Brittain, who represented Lawshe with attorney Natasha Hanna. "It's a sad, sad, day. ... He admitted what he did. ... There's mercy here for Mr. Lawshe. On his behalf, I express gratitude for all those that let him live."
Prosecutors had sought the death penalty against Lawshe, who was arrested Oct. 3, 2007, and charged in connection with the Sept. 26, 2007, death of Julianne Blakeley.
Blakeley's body was found in her burning home, but investigators determined she did not die as a result of the fire.
At the time of his arrest Lawshe also was charged with two counts of second-degree burglary after investigators said he broke into the Sherwin-Williams paint store and Murrells Inlet Veterinary Clinic on U.S. 17 Bypass just before Blakeley's death.
As Lawshe looked on, Blakeley's first cousin, Jan Cox, told the court that she did not want her cousin's life to be defined by the heinous, senseless crime.
"To this day, I can still smell her scent," Cox said. "Our family is going through so much together. Nothing could have prepared us for the agony we experienced after her death. Till the day I die, I won't understand how a human being could have committed such a crime. My heart goes out to [Lawshe's] family."
Blakeley's daughter, Olivia Charney, told the court that "from now on, you [Lawshe] take from us no more." Her brother Blake Thornton supported her. Charney lives in Weston, Conn., and Thornton lives in Mount Pleasant.
"I hope you see my mother's face every day," Charney said.
Lawshe and a relative of his, Edwin Cox, also have been sued in civil court in connection with Blakeley's death.
Blakeley's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit and negligent hiring lawsuit against Lawshe and Cox, charging that Lawshe gained access to Blakeley's home because he was working for Cox and his painting business in September 2007.
Myrtle Beach attorney John Dwight Hudson said prior to Thursday that nothing can be done regarding the lawsuit until the criminal issues are resolved.
Lawshe was repairing water damage in Blakeley's home at the time of her death, the civil lawsuit says.
The Blakeley family is asking for unspecified damages in the civil lawsuit.