Note: This story was updated at 11:15 a.m.
CLINTON—An Anderson County man convicted of first-degree murder on Tuesday avoided the death penalty on Thursday, but he did receive a sentence of life without parole.
A jury of eight women and four men unanimously agreed on that decision after more than seven hours of deliberations on Wednesday and Thursday. Besides death and life without parole, they could have also returned a life sentence with the possibility of parole.
The jury said that prosecutors had proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the killing of Samuel “Sammie” J. Adams, 79, sometime in mid-December 2011 was especially, heinous, atrocious, or cruel, and that Adams was 70 or older. Those were two of the four aggravating factors the jury could consider during the deliberations over whether to impose the death penalty against Norman Lee Follis Jr., 52.
Follis is Adams’ nephew, and he was convicted of first-degree murder for killing his uncle in Anderson County Circuit and Criminal Court on Tuesday.
Adams’ decomposing body was found buried under at least 10 blankets in a closet underneath a staircase at his apartment on Patt Lane in Claxton on January 24, 2012. A couch was shoved against the closet door. Adams had been reported missing. He died of strangulation. [Read more…]