The family and friends of former Myrtle Beach police Officer Joe McGarry has already been through this once.
But the closure they thought they’d found with the conviction of Luzenski Allen Cottrell in McGarry’s 2002 killing will be reopened next week with a retrial.
Cottrell, now 36, was returned to J. Reuben Long Detention Center in Conway on Sept. 8 by the S.C. Department of Corrections, and is set to face a new jury on a charge of murder in the shooting death of McGarry, who died Dec. 29, 2002.
McGarry’s family declined to comment this week about Cottrell’s retrial. But during a memorial service on the ninth anniversary of McGarry’s death, his father, Joe McGarry Sr., said another trial puts strain on his family and officers.
“I'm really bitter with them,” Joe McGarry Sr. said about the members of the state's high court. “Just ignored the will of the people.”
Attorneys in the latest trial of Cottrell are under a gag order issued by Circuit Court Judge Larry Hyman, which prohibits prosecutors, defense attorneys and others from publicly speaking about the case.
McGarry was 28 when he was shot once in the face while he stood outside a Dunkin Donuts shop. He had been with the Myrtle Beach Police Department just over four years when he was killed.
Cottrell was arrested and charged with murder the night of the shooting.
In April 2005, Cottrell was convicted of murder by a jury and sentenced to death. Cottrell also was convicted for shooting at Myrtle Beach Police Officer Mike Guthinger, who was McGarry’s partner that night.
Cottrell appealed the decision and in January 2008 the S.C. Supreme Court overturned his conviction and death sentence. Justice Costa Pleicones stated that the court erred in not giving jurors the option to convict Cottrell of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.
In an unrelated case, five months after his conviction in McGarry’s death, Cottrell and co-defendant, Frederick Halcomb Jr., were each sentenced to life in prison for the November 2002 shooting death of Myrtle Beach resident Michael Jonathan Love in Marion County.
At the time of his shooting, McGarry was the third police officer from Horry County killed in as many years.
McGarry's death happened one year to the day that Lt. Randy Gene Gerald of Loris, an Horry County sheriff's deputy based at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center, was shot and killed on U.S. 701 near Allsbrook.
Gerald stopped in the roadway and was trying to break up a domestic dispute. Gerald’s killer, Boyd Matthew Meekins, 32, was sentenced to life in prison.
A year earlier in June 2000, Horry County police Cpl. Dennis Lyden was killed during a traffic stop on S.C. 544.
Lyden's killer, James Nathanial Bryant, was sentenced to death twice following two separate trials. Bryant’s execution was delayed after a U.S. District judge ordered it postponed a year ago to address his pleadings in federal and state court.