LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - A Gaston man was sentenced on Thursday during a sentencing hearing after he pleaded guilty in the shooting death of a young mother from Myrtle Beach in 2015.
James Richard Elledge, 27, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 25 years in prison in front of the family of the victim, Madison Leslie Leavitt.
Leavitt's mother delivered an emotional statement to the court on Thursday saying her daughter was a loving, compassionate young woman. She said she is trying to find forgiveness in her heart for Elledge, but that it is a "day by day" process.
Lexington County deputies said Elledge fired shots into a vehicle that Leavitt was in on November 7, 2015 along Cross Field Road in Gaston. The young mother was riding in the back seat of the car.
Before the shooting happened that killed Leavitt, authorities said Elledge had already fired a 9mm handgun at the car 11 times as it attempted to leave Elledge's home. Elledge then got into his car and chased the vehicle down before pulling out an AK-47 and firing multiple times at the car, killing Leavitt. He was arrested three days later in Aiken County.
"We are grateful that Elledge has taken responsibility for the senseless death of Madison Leavitt. Elledge has a criminal record for violence and drug-related activity involving methamphetamine," Assistant Solicitor Bradley Pogue, who handled the case stated. "This tragedy could have been easily avoided, yet Elledge chose to carry out a brutal act of violence."