Central man pleads guilty in ’14 killing

By Greg Oliver
Courtesy The Journal

PICKENS — Benjamin Anthony Vinson, whose murder trial was postponed in October and was scheduled for Monday, instead pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of John Chitwood nearly two years ago.

As a result, Vinson was sentenced to seven and a half years but received credit for the 20 months he has already served. That means Vinson will have a little more than five and a half years remaining in prison.

Arrest warrants claim Vinson knowingly and willfully possessed and displayed a shotgun during the commission of a violent crime. On April 24, 2014, warrants allege Vinson left his Moser Street residence following a verbal confrontation before returning a short time later.

When he returned, warrants allege Vinson removed a shotgun from the trunk of his vehicle, engaged in another verbal confrontation with Chitwood and then fired the shot authorities say caused the victim’s death.

After responding to a 911 call, sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene and located Chitwood in the front yard with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the lower abdomen. Chitwood was transported to AnMed to undergo surgery, but died shortly thereafter.

A shotgun authorities believe was the weapon used in the incident was recovered from the scene.

Vinson was initially charged with murder, as well as possession of a weapon during a violent crime.

The trial, originally scheduled in October, was later delayed when defense attorney John DeJong asked for and was granted a continuance due to illness.

Vinson saw his effort to have the murder case dismissed under provisions of the South Carolina “Stand Your Ground” law denied by circuit court judge Ned Miller last year.