2013-01-23 / Front Page

Botched drug deal shooter gets 24 years

By TIM GULLA Ledger Staff Writer tim@gaffneyledger.com

A 21-year-old Shelby, N.C., man admitted Tuesday he shot and ultimately killed another man during a December 2011 drug deal in Gaffney that went horribly awry.

Originally charged with murder, Steven Oliver Beam Jr., whose address is listed in court records as Davis Ridge Road, entered into a plea agreement in Cherokee County General Sessions Court in which he was allowed to plead guilty to the lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter.

Beam was accused of shooting 18- year-old Trey T. Montgomery, of Gaffney, on Dec. 11, 2011, following a botched drug transaction at a Camellia Circle home.

With no negotiation of sentence or recommendation from prosecutors, Circuit Court Judge Derham Cole had the discretion to sentence Beam to up to 30 years in prison.

The judge ultimately decided to sentence Beam to 24 years. Beam will have to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence since voluntary manslaughter is a no-parole offense.

Assistant Solicitor Kim Leskanic, who prosecuted the case, alleged that Beam had initially arranged with another man to purchase a pound of marijuana for $900 on Dec. 11, 2011, and the pair eventually ended up at a Camellia Circle home. When Beam produced the cash, however, the other man couldn’t come up with the agreedupon pound of marijuana.

Montgomery, who was at the home, then allegedly grabbed the $900 in cash from Beam and took off running, Leskanic said. Beam, who had a handgun, fired several shots as he ran after Montgomery. One of those shots struck Montgomery in the back.

Gaffney police responding to the disturbance subsequently found Montgomery lying in some bushes on the side of Carver Street. Montgomery was pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital.

Attorney Trent Pruett, who represented Beam, said Beam didn’t intend to hurt Montgomery but wanted to scare him and get his money back. He said Beam didn’t even know at the time that he had struck Montgomery. Pruett said Beam immediately acknowledged what happened when questioned by police, while the other man — a former co-worker of Beam who set up the drug deal — initially gave a fabricated story.

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