DARLINGTON COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A judge has stayed a wrongful death lawsuit against the couple accused of murdering a Darlington County woman and her granddaughter.
The mother of 9-year old Deziyah Chatman filed the complaint in 2017 claiming the murders were related to drug use and other illegal activity taking place at the grandmother's home. She alleged in the suit that Cephas Cowick and his wife, Katherine Baucom-Cowick, along with the girl's own grandmother, Denise Couplin, caused the death of the child.
According to court documents filed in July, the civil action was stayed by Judge Paul Burch because of the Cowicks pending criminal charges. Further action will be postponed until those criminal proceedings are completed and the parties notify the Court that they would like to proceed.
"Because the criminal cases are still pending in the Darlington County Court of General Sessions and because Defendants Baucom and Cowick have a Constitutional right to remain silent pursuant to the Fifth Amendment, the parties have hereby requested that the Court stay this case until the criminal proceedings have ended," the consent order to stay the case said.
Both Cowicks have been charged with: two counts of murder; third-degree arson; criminal conspiracy; armed robbery with a deadly weapon; first-degree burglary; grand larceny less than $10,000; and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.
The lawsuit alleged had Couplin had "questionable involvement with illegal activity including drug use and associating with individuals who sold and used drugs, including Cephas Cowick and Katherine Baucom."
Tonay Davis, Deziyah Chatman's mother, said in the lawsuit that, unbeknownst to her, Cowick and Baucom were often invited to Couplin's home to buy or use drugs or other illegal activity.
"Although the exact details of what occurred on Sunday, July 17, 2016, are still under investigation, it is believed that Denise Couplin allowed Cowick and Baucom to enter the home. Apparently some argument or issues developed in regard to the criminal enterprise which led to an argument and altercation leading to Cowick shooting both Denise Couplin and Deziyah Chatman," the lawsuit claimed.
According to testimony from the prosecution at a bond hearing after the murders, the couple acted in concert in the deaths of Chatman and Couplin, shooting the grandmother and her granddaughter with a pistol.
Warrants alleged the suspects went to the victims' home for the purpose of robbery.
It was also alleged the Cowicks stole Couplin's vehicle and later burned it in an attempt to conceal their crimes.