2017-09-25 / Front Page

2 defendants; 2 very different sentences

ATTEMPTED MURDER CHARGE
By TIM GULLA
Ledger Staff Writer

The same attempted murder charge against two men, who allegedly beat another man bloody with a pipe and left him in a field off Chesnee Highway last year, resulted in very different prison sentences.

Brandon Cooper Burnett, 20, of North Green River Road, was sentenced to four years in prison Friday after pleading guilty in Cherokee County General Sessions Court before visiting

Circuit Court Judge Daniel Hall.

On Aug. 28, Matthew Bryant Martin, 27, of Rutherfordton, N.C., a co-defendant in the case, got a 20-year prison sentence for the same offense when he pleaded guilty before Cherokee County’s resident Circuit Court Judge Keith Kelly.

Prosecutors contended that the beating was a premeditated act and that both defendants participated. In Burnett’s case, however, it was noted Friday that Burnett had been willing to testify against Martin if needed.

Charges against both men stemmed from a July 15, 2016, incident during which Cherokee County Sheriff ’s Office deputies were alerted to a beaten and bloodied man walking along Chesnee Highway.

Assistant Solicitor Kim Leskanic said the victim, Martin and Burnett had been friends. On the night in question, she alleged, Martin called the victim to arrange a meeting. When they got together, however, Martin and Burnett allegedly began to question the victim about allegations involving a girl.

The two men allegedly drove the victim to a field near Cowpens National Battlefield, where they began striking him in the head, face and body with a metal pipe.

“He (the victim) was under the assumption he was with two people he could trust,” Leskanic alleged.

The two men then took the victim’s cell phone and wallet when they left. The pipe allegedly was thrown in a river.

In a confession to police, Leskanic said, Burnett acknowledged he had hit the victim three or four times in the head and then struck the victim in the knee when he tried to run away.

“He’s a good kid,” the victim later told Judge Hall about Burnett while describing Burnett as a follower. “He just wants to fit in your honor, a lot like myself. Having said that, I still ask for a just sentence.”

The victim’s mother, meanwhile, said the incident left her son with nightmares, flashbacks and distrust. “It was a horrible, senseless crime,” she said.

Defense attorney Trent Pruett said there were no premeditated plans to beat the victim with the pipe, which just happened to be in the vehicle. Pruett said Burnett chose to stay in jail since his arrest, even though he was granted bond, to await his punishment.

“I did betray him (the victim),” Burnett admitted in court.

Judge Hall initially sentence Burnett to 10 years suspended to 4 years and 5 years probation but later changed the sentence to just 4 years with credit for time served because of an apparent legal issue in suspending an attempted murder sentence.

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