Bonds denied in repo man's murder case - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Bonds denied in repo man's murder case

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A Sumter man was denied bond, along with his tenant, Tuesday in the murder of an area repo employee.

Alton Shelley, 81, of 1684 Fletcher Drive in Sumter, was arrested and charged with murder and attempted murder after he allegedly shot 45-year-old Todd Showell, of Lee County, on Nov 20 when Showell and co-worker Gerald Lee, of Camden, were attempting to repossess a vehicle in Shelley's driveway.

Solicitor Ernest Finney told Judge L. Casey Manning that Lee and Showell arrived at Shelley's residence on Nov. 20 and saw a red Chevrolet GMC truck under Shelley's garage that matched the vehicle they were to tow. However, Lee told police that the vehicle identification number was covered with papers and it could not be verified. Because it matched and was the only one in visible sight in the driveway, Showell and Lee attempted to load the vehicle on their company tow truck.

Meanwhile, Finney said Denise Michelle Livingston, 44, of 1680 Fletcher Drive, allegedly told Showell and Lee that they had the wrong vehicle and then went inside Shelley's residence.

"They couldn't verify the information from Mrs. Livingston," Finney said. "She went inside Shelley's home. Shelley came out a few minutes later with a loaded handgun with seven shots in it. … The tow truck decided to leave. (Shelley) fired three shots. Two hit the vehicle and one hit Showell, piercing his lung and causing him to bleed to death in the truck 150 yards away (from Shelley's residence)."

Showell was driving the tow truck, while Lee was the passenger in the vehicle. Livingston, who was identified by Finney as a caretaker, friend and neighbor of Shelley's, was then said to be Shelley's tenant by her public defender Jack Howle.

"(Livingston) went inside (Shelley's home) to get his keys to move the papers to get the VIN," Howle told the court Tuesday. "(Shelley) pushed by her with his gun and fired. Her sole purpose was to get his keys and show them it was the wrong vehicle."

Livingston is facing two counts of accessory before the fact, which Howle said are "erroneous" charges.

Shelley's attorney Wade Kolb painted an up-standing picture of his client to the court by pointing out that Shelley has no criminal record and was married to his wife for 63 years before she died a year ago. He added that Shelley has medical problems, including arthritis, that cause him to be in a wheelchair.

Kolb had a different story for the court aside from Finney and Howle.

"Livingston came into his home saying, ‘They are stealing your car.' They had no conversation at all," Kolb said. "(Shelley) went outside and said, ‘Halt.' They didn't say anything. (Lee and Showell) then jerked the vehicle that was somewhat connected (as they tried to drive away)."

Several of Showell's family and friends were present in the courtroom Tuesday for the bond hearing. Kolb said the vehicle fell off its connection and knocked Shelley down when he then "unintentionally fired three shots."

"He was distressed and is distressed to learn that one of those bullets hit somebody," Kolb said.

 Showell's family gasped for air in disbelief that Shelley was knocked down and fired by mistake in the incident.

"My client owns that property and owns that truck," Kolb said. "… It's a tragic accident. I think you need to understand that we disagree wholeheartedly that they had a right to be where they were."

Finney said after Shelley fired the gun, Livingston allegedly left the crime scene and went to her rental home and got the truck that Lee and Showell intended to repossess. She drove the truck into Shelley's backyard, where Sumter County investigators found it.

Shelley has completed a concealed weapons class and had authority to have a handgun in his home.

Manning denied bond Tuesday for Livingston and Shelley, requesting Shelley's medical records. The case will be revisited in 90 days.

Shelley and Livingston are being held at Sumter-Lee Detention Center.


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