‘Our mom mattered’: Marion County family gets justice nearly 12 years after loved one’s death

Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 6:24 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2023 at 9:59 AM EST
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MARION COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Patricia Skipper wasn’t in court to see the man responsible for her death receive his sentence.

However, her family made sure the judge could see her picture.

“I and I’m sure my other family members had hopes today would finally allow us to feel some closure, that some justice has been served,” said Norma Wygand, Patricia’s daughter.

In a Florence Judicial Center Courtroom Tuesday, three of Skipper’s family members spoke about who Patricia was, and what the family went through to be in a court room. In their words, it wasn’t an easy journey.

“We went, I guess, a good four years before we could get any help from any government agency,” said Freddy Campbell, Patricia’s sister. “The police department would not help, The MAIT team wasn’t any help to us, the Solicitor’s office was looking for something from the police department or elsewhere before they would get involved.”

Despite not getting immediate assistance from the justice system, her family persisted.

“We hired attorneys, they would request copies of the files that the solicitor and police department had, they were told there were no files. There should be a file. Our mom mattered, her life mattered,” said Wygand.

The family started seeking justice for Skipper almost immediately after her death.

She was killed in a car accident in February 2011. Assistant Solicitor Kevin Hope told a judge the defendant, Mariol Rawls, was in another wreck just a few minutes before he crashed into Skipper on Main Street in Marion County. The impact of the crash led to Skipper hitting a tree. She died from her injuries.

The family had to wait years before there was any progress made on Skipper’s case. In 2014, Campbell reached out to WMBF Investigates about the crash. It took another four years after that report for a Grand Jury to indict Rawls for involuntary manslaughter.

”Nothing is going to bring my sister back but I’ve actually had some peace with it ever since they did an indictment. Just that they realized we need to work at it, somebody’s working on it, that gave me some peace,” said Campbell.

While Campbell says he has some peace, other family members are still working on healing, as Rawls won’t get any additional jail time. Right now, he’s serving a 15-year sentence on an unrelated charge in Georgia, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections. The sentence a judge handed down today will run at the same time as that one.

“The defendant knows the system better than me. I’m sure he knows today really does not affect him as far as any punishment for his actions. We were aware that a plea for involuntary manslaughter was offered to him. We were aware that plea carried a maximum of a five-year sentence,” said Wygand.

But even with all the knowledge, the family’s will to fight for Skipper hasn’t stopped, and they don’t want to see anyone else go through what they did.

”Anytime something like this happens, don’t assume it’s being taken care of. They may think you’re a pest, but you need to stay in law enforcement office every day. Make sure it’s being handled,” said Campbell.