Sunhouse robbery and murder trial begins
Horry County Police senior detective Gregory Lent was at a robbery call at a Lake Arrowhead Scotchman on Jan. 25, 2015, when he received the news — another armed robbery, though this one left him near tears three years later.
“As [the patrolmen] arrived on scene, they found the store clerk shot,” Lent said, voice cracking as he recounted the night.
Lent investigated the robbery at the Scotchman and subsequent robbery/murder at a Conway Sunhouse store. He testified on behalf of the state on Wednesday during the trial of James Daniels. Daniels faces two counts of armed robbery and a charge of murder for his role in the crimes.
The state says Daniels served as the getaway driver and scoped the business before the robberies, while the defense says co-defendants, McKinley Daniels and Jerome “JJ” Jenkins, are the evil parties. Both sides agree Daniels didn’t shoot Sunhouse clerk Trish Stull, but he is charged with her murder for being involved with the crime that led to her death.
There are criminal charges against McKinley Daniels and Jenkins, but they are not part of this week’s trial.
Lent said he first went to the Scotchman for an armed robbery around 9:30 p.m. Two men entered the store, displayed a gun, forced a worker behind the counter and took money and cigarettes before fleeing.
As he finished work at that scene, Lent learned about the robbery at the Oak Street Sunhouse store and officers arrived to find Stull dead.
Police had surveillance video from those two robberies as well as one from earlier in January 2015 at a Sunhouse on S.C. Highway 905. Lent said officers played those tapes on loops for hours and noticed a man at both Sunhouses before the robberies. Police identified him as Daniels.
Police also saw a Chevy Malibu on the video from the Sunhouse stores. That vehicle was registered to Daniels’ relative, and when they went to the house to speak to the owner, James Daniels arrived at the home minutes later.
As part of Lent’s testimony, the state played a 90-minute audio recording of Daniels’ police interview. Daniels said he dropped off the other suspects along the road near the store. When they returned, Daniels told police, they didn’t have anything in their hand.
Officers also told Daniels during the interview that the worst-case scenario was he could face murder charges, but he could also face a conspiracy charge.