DILLON, SC (WMBF) – After two days of deliberations, Friday evening, a jury handed down the verdict for the man accused of murdering an elderly couple in 2009 in Dillon County.
According to Dillon County Deputy Solicitor Kernard Redmond, the jury was deadlocked on the two murder charges against Robert Lee Nelson. However, the jury convicted Nelson of burglary in the 1st degree, two charges of armed robbery, and possession of a weapon during a felony.
Family members were speaking out as they sat in the courtroom and listened to the prosecution and defense.
Evelyn Ray, a family member of the victims stated, "We were all very devastated. It was around the holidays, and it was just very devastating and hard and kind of unbelievable."
All of the emotions and pain Ray felt when she first learned of her aunt and uncle, Mary and Walter Swaner's death, back in December of 2009 came back to her as she listened to the trial of Nelson. Nelson is accused of murdering the 80 year-old couple. But they are not the only ones feeling the pain.
Bobbie Malloy, Nelson's aunt said, "It's been a nightmare for us. We are the family of the accused, and it's just like we don't count and what people don't understand that in a situation like this there is pain on both sides. We are the family of the accused and we are victims too because we didn't ask for this."
Family members listened at the Dillon County Courthouse to witnesses from both sides. Ray said, "They are trying to give us a lot of evidence about what happened and you know it's just like a lot of listening. And a lot of thoughts go across your mind about Aunt Mary and the house. As they are describing it I think about times when I was there."
Malloy said, "We love him and he is not completely responsible for what all happened. A lot of stuff is being put on him and he doesn't deserve this." Nelson's defense attorney, Bill McGuire said it started out as a death penalty trial, but after experts decided Nelson had an intellectual disability, it was changed to just a murder trial.
Redmond said cases like this that require a lot of evidence and testimony take a longer period of time to get on the court docket. Now the family is ready for closure as well as justice.
Ray added, "It looks good and in our favor…and I pray for his sweet soul. We really want closure. That's what we want. Closure will help us. We won't ever forget it but we have to move on."
Nelson's family is just hoping for a fair outcome. Malloy said, "It's in the hands of the Lord. I feel like God will be the judge and the jury because a lot of them have already tried to convict it before the trial even began."
A judge sentenced Nelson to 47 years in jail for the burglary charge, 30 years in jail for each armed robbery charge, and five years in jail for the weapon charge. Nelson's sentencing will run concurrent, meaning he'll spend about 52 years behind bars.
Redmond says the Dillon County Solicitor's office will discuss whether to move forward with the two murder charges, following Friday's mistrial.
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