A verdict and sentence are handed down in the Sunhouse murder, robbery trial
Moments after a jury declared James Daniels guilty of two counts of armed robbery and murder for the killing of Trish Stull in 2015, Stull’s sister wrapped her arms around her mom.
“We got justice,” Stull’s mom, Sherry, told her as a few tears fell.
Daniels will spend life in prison without parole for his role in two armed robberies and the killing. It took a Horry County jury about three hours to reach its verdict following a two-day trial.
Daniels served as the getaway driver during robberies of the Scotchman on Lake Arrowhead Road and the Sunhouse convenience store on Jan. 25, 2015. Stull was a clerk at the Sunhouse and was shot and killed. The co-defendants in the case — McKinley Daniels and Jerome “JJ” Jenkins — were not part of Daniels’ trial and prosecutors said they are the ones that entered the stores during the robberies.
Daniels spoke to the judge during his sentencing and said he wasn’t the shooter, but his presence at the crimes led to his conviction.
“I’m really, really sorry to the family in this matter,” he said.
Sherry Stull addressed the court as her other two children held her arms.
“We will never ever have her again. Her kids will never have her again. I just appreciate what lawyers have done and feel we got a fair verdict,” said Sherry Stull.
Police also say Daniels and the co-defendant committed a robbery and murder at S.C. Highway 905 Sunhouse earlier in January 2015.
The defense maintained that Daniels’ co-defendants are the evil parties and had empty chairs next to its table throughout the trial to represent their presence.
In his closing statement, Chief Deputy Solicitor Scott Hixson described the three as a robbery team. It was Daniels that always went first — just like he was the first one to face trial — as he surveyed the store before the other defendants committed the robberies. Daniels also drove the getaway car to and from the scenes.
“You don’t have to pull the trigger … we’re asserting he put everything into operation,” Hixson said.
Hixson also noted that Jenkins wore James Daniels’ clothes, red pants and a gray sweatshirt, during several robberies. Hixson said they switched clothes and when Daniels scoped out the Conway Sunhouse on a cold, January day he wore only a T-shirt and shorts.
“He gave JJ the shirt off his back and the pants off his legs so he could go in and rob and kill Trish Stull,” Hixson said.
Defense attorney Barbara Pratt reminded the jury that she asked them to watch for assumptions and misinformation. The real issue, she said, was if James Daniels was part of the planning of the crime.
“These guys are evil criminal types,” Pratt said about the other defendants. “These two had some kind of plan.”
There was no meeting around a table where the three planned their crimes, Pratt said.