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Myrtle Beach man sentenced to 30 years after fleeing his trial in 2001

A Myrtle Beach man, who was convicted in 2001 in absentia of using a date rape drug to sexually assault a woman in 1998, was ordered Tuesday to serve 30 years in prison after a judge unsealed his sentence.

Michael Brenton Wilson, 39, told Circuit Court Judge Steven John that he had changed as a person since he was arrested and charged in the incident 12 years ago.

“I lived a totally different lifestyle at that time. I was involved with people I shouldn’t been involved with,” Wilson said before John sentenced him. “I was a train wreck waiting to happen. This was not a premeditated thing with malice and forethought.” In December 2001, an Horry County jury convicted Wilson of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and kidnapping during a three-day trial, but Wilson fled before the trial was complete.

It was one of the state's first convictions involving gamma hydroxybutyrate, or GHB, according to the State Law Enforcement Division.

Following the jury's verdict, Circuit Court Judge Edward Cottingham sentenced Wilson, but sealed the sentence until authorities captured Wilson.

The sentence, which was unsealed Tuesday, showed Cottingham ordered Wilson to serve 30 years in prison for the criminal sexual conduct and 30 years in prison for the kidnapping. The sentences will run concurrently.

The conviction stemmed from charges that on Sept. 30, 1998, Wilson put GHB in a woman's drink, prosecutors said. The woman passed out, and Wilson then put the woman in his car and drove her to his home.

At his home, Wilson sexually assaulted the woman and photographed the incident, according to authorities. Wilson did not have a prior criminal record and must serve 85 percent of his sentence.

In an effort to find Wilson, police had him featured on the television show “America’s Most Wanted” and alerted police throughout the nation for him.

In July, police learned Wilson, who had used the alias Robert Brewer, was arrested and booked into the Palm Beach County, Fla., jail on July 2. When Florida authorities checked Brewer’s fingerprints, they learned he was Wilson and was wanted in Myrtle Beach.

Wilson was charged with third-degree vehicle theft, failure to appear in court and resisting arrest in Florida.