Former Horry County deputy sentenced to 18 years in prison for deaths of mental health patients
MARION COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - A former Horry County deputy has been convicted in the deaths of two mental health patients
Stephen Flood was found guilty Thursday on all counts, including two counts each of reckless homicide and two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the 2018 deaths of Nicolette Green and Wendy Newton.
A judge sentenced him to 18 years in prison after the jury deliberated on the verdict for a little over two hours.
The judge sentenced Flood to the maximum of five years on each count of involuntary manslaughter and four years on each count of reckless homicide.
The maximum possible sentence Flood could’ve received was 30 years.
The state rested its case against Flood on Wednesday.
- DAY 1: Trial begins for former Horry County deputy accused in transport van drownings
- DAY 2: Law enforcement officers testify about flooded road in Horry County deputy trial
- DAY 3: State rests case against former Horry Co. deputy, jury sees dramatic drone video of first responders trying to open flooded van
Green and Newton’s families made victim impact statements following the verdict.
Green’s sister said while she forgives Flood for what happened, she asked the judge to sentence him to a maximum 30-year sentence. Newton’s son also said he forgave Flood.
Newton’s son, Charles, also forgave Flood.
”I’m not going to sit up here and drill you, Mr. Flood and tell you how much I dislike/hate you, but I will say some of my family members will never forgive you,” he said. “But I can not live with a grudge in my heart, so I will say I do forgive you for the decisions you made that caused the death of my mom. But I will never forget.”
Flood’s attorney, Jarrett Bouchette, argued for a short sentence citing his client’s health issues and no prior criminal record. Flood also directly addressed the judge, saying he never intended for any of this to happen, calling it “a series of mistakes.”
He apologized for what happened to Green and Newton.
The defense rested its case earlier Thursday without calling any witnesses to the stand. Bouchette explained that since there were no eyewitnesses and Flood is not testifying, then there was no one they could call to stand. Bouchette did ask for a directed verdict in the case but the judge denied it.
Flood and another former deputy, Joshua Bishop, were transporting Green and Newton to behavioral health centers in Darlington and Lancaster in a prison transport van in September 2018, when it was swept away by floodwaters in Marion County.
Flood and Bishop were able to escape, but Green and Newton were locked in the back of the transport van and could not escape.
It took the two sides a little over two hours to deliver their closing arguments.
12th Circuit Solicitor Ed Clements said that Flood’s actions of driving around the barrier and into floodwater were a volitional act, which makes Green and Newton’s deaths a homicide. He added that Flood’s reckless disregard for the safety of others is part of what contributes to the involuntary manslaughter charges.
“There was nothing they could do,” Clements said about Green and Newton. “How awful must that have been to wait for your own death?”
During his closing arguments, Bouchette said that Flood was being made a scapegoat and that there was water everywhere, meaning that the deputies should never have been sent out in the transport van in the first place. He also emphasized that Flood was waved through past the barriers by other authorities.
Flood was booked into the Marion County Detention Center following his conviction.
Bishop also faces two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the case. He will be tried separately on those charges at a later date.
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