Nearly two years after he fled the scene of an automobile accident that left one person dead, a Union man pleaded guilty to two charges stemming from that accident and was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.
Stephen Young, 30, 182 Mandy Lane, Union, pleaded guilty in General Sessions Court Thursday afternoon to reckless homicide and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death. After pleading to the charges Young was sentenced by Judge Michael Nettles of Florence to 10 years in prison on the reckless homicide charge and 7 years in prison on the leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death charge. The sentences will run concurrently and Young will have to serve at least 85 percent of the seven-year sentence before being eligible for parole.
Young was the driver of of a 1991 Honda four-door which was traveling west on the 400 block of Tinker Creek Road on the afternoon of Oct. 1, 2010 when it ran off the right side of the road. A subsequent investigation of the accident by the SC Highway Patrol determined that the vehicle then over corrected to the left and struck a tree.
The accident resulted in the death of Union resident Emanuel Shaw who was 18 at the time of the accident. Shaw was the passenger in the vehicle at the time of the accident and was pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of Shaw’s death was determined to be head trauma resulting from the accident.
When authorities arrived on the scene, Young was nowhere to be found, and Sixteenth Circuit Deputy Solicitor John Anthony said Thursday that for three days after the accident a search was conducted for Young who it was feared might have been injured. Young, however, had fled the scene and would remain at-large until taken into custody by SLED agents on Oct. 28, 2010.
In addition to the reckless homicide and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, Young was also charged by the highway patrol with driving under suspension fourth offense and by the Union County Sheriff’s Office with criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature.
Anthony said the accident grew out of a domestic dispute between Young and his common law wife who said that he and Shaw had driven up to her home on Mandy Lane. The woman said she and a male friend were getting ready to leave in her car when Young and Shaw drove up, blocking the road with their vehicle. She said Young threatened to kill her and her friend and that they’d fled the scene trying to get away. It was while Young was pursuing his common law wife and her passenger that the accident occurred and Shaw was killed.
Young’s attorney, Melissa Inzerillo, described the incident as a very tragic accident and that Young and Shaw had been very good friends, with Young considering Shaw his little brother. Inzerillo said that following the accident, Young had been disoriented, had panicked and fled the scene. She said he understood that he’d made a bad decision and was remorseful about the incident, especially Shaw’s death.
Also speaking on Young’s behalf was Susan Turner, a volunteer with Good Works in the Chapin area where Young had done community service related to his sentence on another charge. Turner said that after doing the community service required by the court, Young had asked to continue working with the group as a volunteer and had continued to do so. She said that Young had told her that he’d made a terrible judgment call and that if he had it to do over again he would rather it be him who died in the accident, not his friend.
Two members of Shaw’s family, his stepfather Don Walton and his mother Sherry Walton, spoke during the hearing, stating that as Shaw’s friend, as someone who viewed him as a little brother, Young should have remained at the scene instead of going on the run for a month. They also spoke of how Shaw’s death had devastated their family.
For most of the hearing, Young simply answered the judge’s questions with a simple “yes,” but when he finally spoke on his behalf before the sentence was handed down, Young said “I know I made a bad decision.” While he addressed his comments to the judge, Young spoke of the impact of that bad decision on Shaw’s family and on himself.
“They lost family, I lost a friend.”