The murder case against Darrell Deas was one of the oldest pending homicides trials in Horry County. More than three years later, Deas pleaded in the case.
On Tuesday, Deas, 35, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter for the killing of Latron Lewis in a Myrtle Beach La Quinta parking lot in 2015. Police say Deas and Lewis argued in the parking lot and it escalated with Deas using a handgun. Police initially charged Deas with murder.
As a result of his plea, Deas will serve 15 years in prison, according to the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.
The plea came after Deas’ attorneys argued during a Tuesday hearing the shooting was self-defense. Clifton Smalls Jr. was the first witness called by Deas’ attorneys. Smalls worked at the hotel the day of the shooting in August 2015. He said a patron called the front desk to complain of a parking lot argument, and Smalls went to check on the situation.
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Smalls said he saw a group of women and Lewis and Deas arguing outside of the hotel. Deas was trying to walk away and got inside his car. Lewis told Deas not to talk about his teenage son, Smalls said.
“Oh yeah, he was walking away the entire time,” Smalls said of Deas.
During Smalls’ testimony, Deas flipped his attention between the courtroom gallery and the witness — some moments listening intently to the testimony, others joking with the gallery.
Deas reached his car and got inside when Lewis reached in, Smalls said.
“That is when the shot rang out,” he said.
There were only seconds between Lewis reaching into the car and the shot, Smalls said. He added it was possible that Lewis was reaching for the gun.
Smalls said he was testifying to the best of his memory in the nearly four-year-old case. During the cross-examination, it was revealed that Smalls told officers that night there were two shots, but on Tuesday, he said there was only one. Smalls said he changed his account based on what he was told happened.