CLINTON—An Anderson County jury is deliberating the sentence for Norman Lee Follis Jr., 52, who was convicted on Tuesday of first-degree murder. The death penalty is one option.
The other two options are life without parole and life. No matter what happens, defense attorney Mart Cizek said, Follis will die in prison. Life with the possibility of parole has a 51-year minimum sentence, meaning Follis would be 103 before he would be eligible for release, if he receives the life sentence with the possibility of parole.
The jury convicted Follis on Tuesday of first-degree murder in the death of his uncle, Samuel “Sammie” J. Adams, 79, sometime between December 2011 and January 2012. Adams’ decomposing body was found on January 24, 2012, under a pile of at least 10 blankets in a closet under an apartment staircase on Patt Lane in Claxton after he was reported missing. He had been strangled.
Follis admitted killing his uncle, but he said he was defending his girlfriend, Tammy Sue Chapman, 47, who was being groped by Adams, who was on top of her. Follis and his defense attorneys maintained in taped interviews and during the trial that he used an extension cord to defend himself and to get Adams off of him after his uncle grabbed him during the scuffle.
But prosecutors alleged that the murder was a pre-meditated killing, and that Follis and Chapman profited from it. Follis sold Adams’ car for $1,000 in cash on January 16, 2012, according to testimony.
Throughout the trial, which started with jury selection on Wednesday last week and continued with opening arguments on Monday, prosecutors questioned Follis’ credibility, including his explanation of what had happened. They said he had told “lie after lie after lie,” misleading family, friends, and law enforcement, including Anderson County Sheriff’s Department Detective Don Scuglia, about Adams’ location and his death.
On Wednesday, prosecutors presented aggravated factors that could lead to the death penalty for Follis, and the defense presented mitigating factors that could lead to one of the other two sentences.
The jury began deliberating at about 11:10 a.m. Wednesday. After a lunch break, deliberations resumed at 1:45 p.m.
The jury is participating in the sentencing because they found Follis guilty of first-degree murder. Anderson County Circuit and Criminal Court Judge Don Elledge will sentence Follis in a separate hearing on a conviction of property theft of more than $1,000. A pre-sentencing report will be required before that hearing, Cizek said. But the potential sentence in that case is much less severe, maybe two to four years.
It’s the first death penalty trial in Anderson County since 1991, said Cizek, who is one of only three defense attorneys in the county who are qualified to handle death penalty cases.
Chapman has also been charged with first-degree murder and also faces the death penalty. Her trial has been scheduled for August.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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