UNION — A Union man will spend nearly six years in prison after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the September death of a man who died from injuries received during a fight.
When he was arrested on Sept. 28, 2014, Herman Phillip “Bubba” Farr, 19, 308 Aetna St., Union, was initially charged with attempted murder in the beating death of Chad Anthony Whitlock early that morning. On October 17, the Union Public Safety Department announced that the charge against Farr had been upgraded to murder. The department also announced at the time that a 15-year-old juvenile had also been charged with murder in Whitlock’s death.
Since his arrest, Farr has spent a total of 132 days in jails while awaiting trial, but that wait came to an end Thursday when Farr went before Judge Mark Hayes of Spartanburg in the Main Courtroom of the Union County Courthouse to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter. Hayes then sentenced Farr to seven years in prison with credit for time served. Under South Carolina law, persons sentenced to prison must serve 85 percent of their sentences before being eligible for parole.
With credit for time served, Farr will be eligible for parole in a little less than six years. If he is released on parole, Farr will be under the Community Supervision program for the balance of his sentence.
When Farr made his plea, Deputy Solictor John Anthony told Hayes that the state was recommending a sentence of no more than seven years in prison.
Anthony then proceeded to present the facts of the case to Hayes, stating that the incident occurred on Blassingame Street in the City of Union on Sept. 28 around 2:30 a.m. He said the public safety officer responding to a report of a disturbance found Whitlock unconscious in the road next to a car and observed several other white males at the scene, one of whom ran. The officer pursued the white male who ran and when he returned to the scene the vehicle was gone. It was later stopped by a deputy with the Union County Sheriff’s Office.
Anthony said witnesses to the incident said that Farr and Whitlock had gotten into an argument over a remark Whitlock had made earlier about Farr’s girlfriend. He said that Farr and Whitlock got out of the vehicle and began figthing with Farr knocking Whitlock to the ground. Anthony said that a witness told investigators that he’d pulled Farr off Whitlock only to have Farr go back and hit him again. He said that Farr and the others at the scene at the time of the fight had been drinking.
Anthony said that Whitlock’s death was due to injuries resulting from blunt force trauma. He said that Whitlock, who was 30 at the time of his death, was the victim of an “unjustified beating” which took his life and took him from his family.
During his presentation to the court, Anthony also reviewed Farr’s criminal record which he said included breach of peace, assault and battery, trespassing, and disorderly conduct.
In addition to being hit by Farr, Anthony said that witnesses said the juvenile charged with murder kicked Whitlock. He said the juvenile’s case is still pending.
Farr’s attorney, Public Defender Erik Delaney, said the incident began with six guys getting together with at least four of them drinking alcohol. Delaney said it was not a gang situation, there were no guns, and all of those present knew each other and before that night there had been no problems between them. He said that things took a wrong turn that night when Farr and Whitlock got into a fight and got out of the car together to fight each other with Farr hitting Whitlock five or six times.
In discussing the fight, Delaney said that while his client admits to striking Whitlock, he believes that the juvenile who kicked Whitlock was actually more culpable than Farr. Even so, Delaney said that Farr understands that he got into a fight and that a man died as a result. He said that alcohol was “a big factor” and that alcohol is definitely a problem for Farr who he hopes gets help and comes to understand that “he and alcohol don’t mix.”
Delaney said that while Farr is legally an adult, he is more of a “big kid,” still immature, but with a big heart who loves his family, a sensitive guy who has a lot of friends. He said that alcohol makes Farr do some stupid things, and now he is going to have to start growing up and get focused. Delaney said that Farr has a great deal of potential and wants to be a welder and be a father to his two children, ages 2 and 3, and help them learn from his mistakes and not make them.
Delaney asked Hayes to sentence Farr to two years in prison instead of seven, pointing that his client would still have to serve 85 percent of his sentence as required by law. He said would be appropriate as it would still send Farr the message he needs to get while also allowing him to be a part of his children’s lives while they are still little.
Before Hayes handed down his sentence, he granted Farr’s request to apologize to Whitlock’s family who, along with his family, were in the courtroom. Farr apologized to the Whitlock family for their loss, saying that he hadn’t meant for it to happen, that it had been an accident and that he was sorry for their loss.
In handing down his sentence, Hayes also directed that Farr receive addiction treatment while in prison. He also encouraged Farr, who at the beginning of the hearing told Hayes he had a 10th grade education, to make use of the resources of the prison system to get an education.