LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - The man who shot and killed his estranged wife was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Friday.
Sean Patrick Peters, 39, received the sentence after entering a guilty plea for the murder of Rachel Peters on Dec. 13, 2015. The sentence was handed down by 11th Circuit Chief Administrative Judge Eugene C. Griffith, Jr.
The guilty plea eliminates the need for a murder trial that was scheduled to begin June 5.
Eleventh Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard presented the facts of what he termed "an incredibly tragic, horrific case" of domestic violence for a couple that "before this incident occurred, by all account of outsiders looking in, they appeared to be an ideal family."
The couple was married in 2012 and Rachel has two daughters from a previous marriage. The family lived in a home located at 4280 Greenwood Drive in Lexington County where the murder took place.
Before the murder, the couple was estranged and evidence showed that Rachel was working to sever ties with Peters and was working toward getting a divorce. Rachel obtained a restraining order on Nov. 3, 2015, and her husband was instructed not to come in contact with Rachel, the two children, or come near the home.
In the early morning hours of Dec. 13, 2015, Peters broke into the home, dressed in all black, and entered Rachel's bedroom as she slept in her bed with her 10-year-old daughter. He threatened both of them with a handgun and ordered Rachel to get out of the bed.
Peters ordered Rachel to undress before shooting her twice in the head. An autopsy revealed that Rachel had two close contact wounds.
After the shooting, Peters remained in the home with 10-year-old until the morning when he called 911 and requested an S.W.A.T. unit come to the home. Negotiations began with responding Lexington County Sheriff's deputies to rescue the child, but Sean refused to release her.
The child eventually escaped by distracting Peters while the door was open after Master Deputy Eddie Richardson used a brief conversation and a cigarette. Richardson was able to use a Tazer to eventually apprehend Sean.
A search of Peters' motel room at the Value Plane Inn on Highway 1 showed that he purchased a black powder muzzle loader firearm from Sportsman's Warehouse, .22 caliber ammunition, and a set of handcuffs.
The two children are now in the custody of Rachel's mother, Tami Childs, who testified at the sentencing. She called her daughter a "beautiful light that glowed with love."
The children, who were 10 and 12 years old at the time of the murder, now live with Childs in a different state.