Man sentenced to 30 years for murder, arson - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Man sentenced to 30 years for murder, arson

Michael Clayton Gensel (Source: HCPD) Michael Clayton Gensel (Source: HCPD)
Christopher Thomas Cervoni (Source: HCPD) Christopher Thomas Cervoni (Source: HCPD)
Michael Keith Cervoni (Source: HCPD) Michael Keith Cervoni (Source: HCPD)
Source: Ken Tucker Source: Ken Tucker

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) One of the three men charged in the death of 65-year-old Claudy Strickland is facing a hefty prison sentence after pleading guilty to burglary, arson and murder.

Thirty-year-old Michael Clayton Gensel is one of the three men arrested by detectives with the Horry County Police Department's Violent Crimes Section in connection with a fatal fire that claimed the life of a Myrtle Beach man in June 2011.

The death investigation stemming from the residential fire in Myrtle Beach was ruled a homicide.

Detectives arrested Michael Clayton Gensel as well as Christopher Thomas Cervoni and Michael Keith Cervoni, all of Myrtle Beach.

On Monday, August 6 Gensel appeared in court, pleading guilty to burglary, arson and murder. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison and ordered to pay court costs.

Christopher Cervoni is also charged with murder, burglary in the first degree, strong arm robbery and arson in the second degree. Michael Cervoni has been charged with accessory after the fact of murder.

According to online court records, cases against both Michael Cervoni and Christopher Cervoni are still pending.

Horry County Deputy Coroner Darris Fowler identified the homicide victim as 65-year-old Claudy Strickland of Myrtle Beach. Strickland died of blunt force trauma. Fowler added the fire is not believed to have anything to do with Strickland's death.

Units with Horry County Fire Rescue discovered Strickland's body after responding to a fire in the Myrtle Beach area. It was later determined that Strickland did not die as a result of the fire, but died as a result of blunt force trauma.

The investigation further revealed Strickland had been robbed and killed prior to the fire being set to the house.

Leslie Yancey, spokeswoman for Horry County Fire Rescue, explains that they found flames showing from the home along Burcale Road when crews arrived that morning in June of last year.

According to Yancey, after the flames were doused and Strickland's body was discovered, the investigation was turned over to Horry County Police.

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