With tears quickly falling from her eyes and her hands trembling as she wiped them, Sylvia Adkins quietly said that a weight she’d carried since 2012 was lifted Monday when the last of three people charged in the murder-for-hire shooting deaths of her dad and brother was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
“I’m so glad my daddy and brother can rest in peace now,” Adkins said Monday standing in the sunshine outside of the Horry County Courthouse after Nehemiah James Evans was sentenced to prison.
She described how she’d felt a weight on her while she waited for justice in their murders at her father’s home on Red Bluff Road in Loris.
“I’m thankful to Brad [Richardson, prosecutor], the police. I’m very thankful for their work. They’ve done so much,” Adkins said, her voice full of emotion. “We’re going to try to live our lives the best we know how without my dad and brother. I’m glad justice was finally served.”
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Evans, 30, of Nichols pleaded guilty to two counts of murder in the Aug. 19, 2012, shooting deaths of 66-year-old Amos Hatfield and his 40-year-old son, Thomas “Tommy” Hatfield.
Circuit Court Judge Larry Hyman sentenced Evans to 30 years in prison on the two counts, but ordered the sentences to run concurrently.
Evans was one of three people charged in the Hatfields’ deaths.
Amos Hatfield’s 43-year-old wife, Sandy Lee Locklear, and another man, Odom Bryant, 24, were each convicted of two counts of murder and ordered to serve two life in prison sentences.
In June 2014 after a two-week trial, Locklear of Tabor City, N.C., was convicted and sentenced. In January after a week trial, Bryant was convicted following a trial and sentenced.
Richardson, who prosecuted the cases, said Locklear baited the men with a promise of $50,000 from a $1 million insurance policy if they would kill the Hatfields, who were found shot execution-style a few feet apart.
Bryant and Evans each denied being involved in the shooting.
On Monday, Evans apologized for the men’s deaths.
“I’m sorry for what happened to the victims and their family,” Evans said before he was sentenced. “I will take responsibility even though I did not see the crime occur.”
Evans had done landscaping for Locklear, Richardson said.
Bob Hurt of Myrtle Beach told Hyman that he had employed Evans as his landscaper and the man had denied being involved in the murders.
“I could always depend on Nehemiah and he did first-class work,” Hurt said and noted he visited Evans in jail. “He denied he was involved in the actual murders. He did not elaborate on that point. . . . I think he’s a hardworking young man who got off track with the wrong people.”
After the hearing, Richardson said he was glad the case had concluded with prison sentences for those involved.
“I’m thankful to the family and the Horry County Police Department because without their hard work and dedication, this case could go unsolved,” Richardson said. “I’m happy we achieved justice for the family of Amos and Tommy.”