Man who killed WWII vet gets life in prison

Dondre Michael Scott (Source: FCSO)
Dondre Michael Scott (Source: FCSO)
Clair Chaffin (Source: Chaffin Family)
Clair Chaffin (Source: Chaffin Family)

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Following hours of deliberation in a Pee Dee court room, a jury has found a Darlington man guilty in the 2009 shooting death of an 83-year-old World War II veteran in Florence.

Dondre Michael Scott, of Darlington, shot and killed Clair Chaffin, of Archer, FL, while he was packing his car outside of a hotel on West Lucas Street in June 2009. A second man, identified as Sylvester Davis Jr., of Darlington, has also been charged in connection to the shooting.

A jury found Scott guilty on all charges pressed in connection to Chaffin's death, including murder. A short time later, a judge sentenced Scott to life in prison.

"Since he was 17 years old at the time of the crime, we couldn't pursue the death penalty and the ultimate possible penalty was life. That's what we wanted and that's what we got. We're very pleased," Solicitor Ed Clements said.

Family members of Chaffin, crying as the verdict was read, said they are also pleased. They hope the recently reached verdict will help bring closure to a long year.

"It's been a long time. It's been a year and there's not a day that goes by that we haven't thought of my dad, the trial that's coming up and what's happening," Alice Thompson, Chaffin's daughter, said.

Scott's first official day of trial began on Tuesday with brief debate regarding whether or not some video or audio recordings should or should not be used in the courtroom. The video tapes show Scott taking investigators to the scene of the crime where Chaffin was killed and explaining what happened.

The State said Tuesday its evidence in the trial would show that Scott was the triggerman during the fatal armed robbery outside of the Thunderbird Inn. The defense counteracted the statements, telling the jury members that emotions should not sway their decisions.

Robert Forbes, of Florence, was the first witnessed to take the stand. Forbes said he was at the Thunderbird Inn on the day of the shooting and found Chaffin still conscious. What he saw next, according to Forbes' account, was two men attempting to flee the scene.

"What I saw was two gentlemen getting into a burgundy car and driving away. The only license plate I could get was the first three digits," Forbes explained.

Chaffin's grandson, Robert Dowe, said his grandfather was en route to pick up a friend for a trip to the Canadian Rockies for vacation when the shooting occurred. Chaffin, according to Dowe, was driving up from Florida and had stopped at the Florence motel alone.

Dowe says his grandfather, nicknamed "Doc," was awarded the 4th Marine Division in World War II and was also awarded a Silver Star.

Investigators in Richland County said both Davis and Scott may have previously been involved in a robbery at a Motel 6, located at 7541 Nates Rd., where an off-duty probation officer was robbed at gunpoint of her credentials and state issued .40 caliber handgun.

It was also added by investigators that the two were also believed to be involved in a separate armed robbery and assault on June 2, 2009 on Rover Drive at Savannah's Club. Officials said two male victims were robbed and assaulted in the parking lot of the business.

The two have also been previously charged with four counts of armed robbery.

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