Judge rules that killing doesn't meet self-defense standard

Judge rules that killing doesn't meet self-defense standard

From our news partner My Horry News:

A circuit judge ruled earlier this week that a Longs man wasn't acting in self-defense when he shot an unarmed man to death in a 2015 gun battle at a S.C. 90 juke joint.

Gettie Levon Bellamy III, 26, of the 3200 block of Brinkley Road in Longs faces charges of murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.

Although Bellamy is lawfully not allowed to possess a firearm due to previous a previous armed robbery conviction, Circuit Judge Larry Hyman ruled that he still had the right to defend himself if he had been engaging in a lawful act at the time and didn't bring about the difficulty that caused him to defend himself.

Hyman found that Bellamy "was not without fault in bringing on the difficulty."

"The evidence presented at the hearing and circumstances in this case show that the defendant violated the law, and did so in a way that produced the reasonably expected outcome: a shooting in a public place and the death of an innocent bystander," Hyman wrote in his opinion.

Hyman wrote that there was conflicting testimony as to whether Bellamy was in possession of the gun.

"However, it is undisputed that the gun was in the car," he wrote.

He said Bellamy and several others drove to The party Shop to buy a pack of Black and Milds and sometime on the drive over the gun was moved beside him in the front passenger seat of the car.

Bellamy said he didn't shoot at an "unidentified black male" first, but some witnesses said he did.

Ralph Wilson, who argued the stand your ground motion for Bellamy in October of 2016, said the defendant and his trio of co-defendants started their night at Dave's, a small club on Pint Circle in Longs, but headed on to The Party Shop on S.C. 90 where people fired at them. He quoted the SLED report as saying there were three or four shots fired at the car that Bellamy was in. That's when the suspect grabbed a gun that was beside him on the front seat of the car and returned fire. He said Bellamy turned himself in the next morning.

Josh Holford, who is prosecuting the case for the Horry County Solicitor's Office, said the assault rifle used in the shooting was never recovered, but experts believe it was fired at least nine times.

He said Bellamy has a past conviction for armed robbery and, due to that conviction, is not allowed to possess a gun. He says witnesses saw Bellamy with a rifle earlier in the day before the group went to The Party Shop where Bellamy still had the gun.

Holford argued that if Bellamy had not shown up with the assault rifle, the altercation would not have happened.

He said the unarmed Quentin Reeves was hit and killed, but Wilson disagreed that Reeves was not one of the shooters.

During his testimony, Bellamy said two friends came to his girlfriend's house on the day of the shooting to talk about what they wanted to do that night.

Bellamy said they began their outing by going to Brooksville to pick up a gun that they intended to sell for a friend.

He said they went to Dave's next where a prom after-party was going on, but he conceded that he didn't graduate until he was in jail so it wasn't his prom party.

He said they stayed there only 30 minutes to an hour and never went in, choosing instead to just hang around the car.

He said while they were there, there was "no negative energy, no vendetta against anyone."

Bellamy said as far as he knew none of his group drank any alcohol or used any drugs.

He said they left when the guy who was supposed to buy the gun didn't show.

They went to his mom's house to get his phone charger and then headed to The Party Shop to buy some Black and Mild cigars.

After that they planned to drop the gun off and go to the Waffle House, Bellamy testified.

However, when they got to The Party Shop, before he could even put his hand on the door to get out, a black man headed toward the car saying he felt like they didn't belong in that area.

Bellamy said he threw his hands into the air to let the men know that they weren't looking for trouble, but when he saw that one of the men was reaching toward his waistband for a gun he took his hands down and grabbed the gun that was on the seat beside him.

He said he put a round in the chamber "preparing for the worst."

He said he didn't know what, but something apparently made the man mad.

"They already had intentions to do harm," he said.

By that time three or four people were in front of the car and a crowd had gathered to the left side, according to Bellamy.

Before he could put a round into the firearm, they already had their guns out and were firing. A shot hit their car and then a couple more shots hit the car. One of the shots hit and cracked the windshield.

"It happened so fast, I can't be exact on how many rounds were fired," Bellamy said.

After the shot hit the windshield, Bellamy said, "Fear, fear is what happened."

He said they tried to "elude and retreat" by backing into the road, but the shooting continued so he leaned out of the passenger window and fired back.

Bellamy said they spent the night at his girlfriend's house in Little River.

The next day when they saw on Facebook that they were wanted for questioning, they turned themselves in to police, told their version of the incident and were charged.

In his cross examination of Bellamy, Holford indicated that Bell was involved in a disagreement at Dave's that led to the group's going to The Party Shop. Bellamy said there was no disagreement.

"People are so violent now. You get shot at over anything down there," he said, explaining the reason for the shooting.

Holford said official reports show that Bellamy fired nine times.

But, Bellamy said, "I was just trying to suppress fire. I wasn't trying to harm no one."

He also said he wasn't trying to fire at anyone in particular, adding that with their dreadlocks they all looked alike.

A female witness said Bellamy shot first.

She said the car was backing out when the firing started.

In response to Holford's questioning Bellamy's girlfriend at the time said the other guys shots first. She said she feared for her life.

"Oh we were definitely in jeopardy; we were getting shot at," she said.

When arguments for the Stand Your Ground motion concluded, Hyman set a $100,000 bond for Bellamy, who was later released to home detention.

Bellamy and his two co-defendants are on the Horry County trial roster for Feb. 13.

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