Third witness shares graphic details as trial continues for man accused of killing girlfriend in S.C.
McIlwain’s cellmate said in court he has never been more scared of another person like he is of Derrick McIlwain. He pointed to his testimony as the reason why.
LANCASTER, S.C. (WBTV) - The murder trial continued for the second day for a man who is accused of killing his girlfriend in Lancaster, S.C., then killing a man in Ballantyne while he was on the run in 2019.
Derrick McIlwain is charged with the murder of Kimberly Alger in May 2019 in Lancaster and the murder of Alvin Fletcher in south Charlotte in Nov. 2019.
While he was on the run, CMPD believes he went on to kill Alvin Fletcher at a townhome in Ballantyne.
After Alger’s murder, South Carolina investigators searched for McIlwain for months.
In the third day of the Derrick McIlwain trial, the prosecution continued with experts and started the day off with a DNA officer from SLED. That expert testified they found Derrick McIlwain’s DNA underneath Kimberly Alger’s fingernails.
The prosecution also called the current Lancaster County coroner to testify to the autopsy findings. She did not conduct the autopsy, so the coroner couldn’t say if this death was ruled a homicide or not, but she did testify that the damages around Alger’s neck did not appear to be self-inflicted.
Two other experts were brought in to speak on the autopsy. The words homicide and strangulation were thoroughly discussed. The word strangulation first coming from a Newberry pathologist expert.
”We decided that yes she died by asphyxia by strangulation,” says the pathology expert.
And homicide by another expert.
”There were suspicious contusions and confirmed contusions that made us think this was a homicide,” says the other expert.
It was officially ruled a homicide in June. But Robert Chapman, McIlwain’s cellmate for more than a year, testified he heard about Kimberly Alger’s death from McIlwain himself after swapping stories with the defendant in jail.
He said in court he has never been more scared of another person like he is of Derrick McIlwain. He pointed to his testimony as the reason why.
“I’m just kind of shocked by the whole thing. I’m just listening,” says Chapman.
Chapman says he listened to McIlwain describe grabbing Alger’s throat and choking her.
”I said when it comes down to it I don’t think I could do it. And he said I know you couldn’t do it. You don’t have it in you. You don’t have it in you. He said it took forever,” he says.”He said I had to kill the b**** twice. He said the b**** wouldn’t die.”
When asked if McIlwain showed any remorse, Chapman said no. The words he spoke left an empty seat in the audience as Alger’s mom abandoned it, weeping on the way out of the room.
”He was almost giddy about it. And that’s what…that made me mad. He was enjoying telling me this,” he says. “You had a chance to catch yourself. I mean that’s just evil.”
The defense cross-examination was mostly about discrediting him as a witness. McIlwain’s laweyer Mark Grier, questioned why Chapman took so long to come forward and if a transfer to a rougher prison was the reason he did.
“You said you were afraid to go to prison,” asks Grier.
“A certain level of the prison yes,” responds Chapman.
Chapman testified that McIlwain communicated threats to him for testifying. He says the defendant wrote him quote “don’t do it, it’s not worth it” and quote “I know your family’s address.”
On the second day of the Derrick McIlwain trial, the jury listened to witness after witness paint a more specific picture of this crime and what prosecutors say was McIlwain’s involvement. But, two witnesses were standouts for the prosecution.
One of those witnesses is this woman—Brandi Waldon—the girlfriend of Alvin Fletcher, who McIlwain is also accused of killing. McIlwain lived with her and Fletcher in November while he was on the run.
”He came downstairs one day and he asked me if I knew why he was wanted, and I said yes,” says Waldon.
Waldon said McIlwain took the opportunity to confide in her.
”I don’t remember his exact wording, but he had said something in reference to he had killed her,” she says. “Did you ever think about calling the police on Derrick McIlwain?,” asked Prosecutor Luck Campbell. “Yes,” answers Waldon.
Waldon says she did not call the police for the same reason the second witness—Brittany Oneppo—gave in court.
”I was scared to,” says Oneppo.
Oneppo knew McIlwain in high school. She testified she spent several days with McIlwain in hotels while he was on the run. He had a friend reach out to her saying McIlwain needed help. She got his number and contacted him.
”He told me where to pick him up and I came and picked him up and then we went to a hotel,” she says.
During that time, McIlwain confided in her too.
”Did he talk to you about Kim?” asks Campbell. “He started to,” she answers. “Ok and what did he say?” Campbell follows up. “All I heard was he just couldn’t take anymore of her smart-ass mouth,” continues Oneppo.
There were other witnesses as well. Today was all about the experts as prosecutors called three expert witnesses to give the jury a better understanding of the evidence.
One of those witnesses, a medical examiner, was used to describe how Kimberly Alger died. Deputies believe she was strangled, and the medical examiner made a case for the determination.
Another expert was a cell phone forensics SLED officer who testified that Alger’s phone was making phone calls a couple days after her body was found. He could not say definitively who was making those calls though.
It was a lot more subdued day in court compared on Wednesday compared to Tuesday. There was more forensic evidence used to lay out this case Tuesday.
”She told my mom that last time he does love me momma he won’t kill me,” says Kristen Deya, Alger’s sister.
Alger’s family had a feeling there was something wrong with her relationship with Derrick McIlwain. They had heard it themselves.
”He had held a gun to her head and unfortunately her young children were witness to this. My sister knew things were getting worse,” says Deya.
Deya spoke those words November 2019, six months after her body was found.
”To know that the person responsible for it is still out there, it gets harder,” she says.
But just two weeks later, police found and arrested this man—Derrick McIlwain. He was denied bond by a judge for two murders, including Alger.
”Maybe now can start to mourn our daughter and our grandchildren can sleep at night,” says Alger’s mother, Susan Stack.
Emotions were heightened as McIlwain and Alger’s families sat side by side each other in court today. Whispers, gasps and even sobs were heard throughout the first day of this trial.
This was an extremely difficult day in court as prosecutors showed picture after picture of gruesome crime scene photos. Some of the images were so disturbing many of the jurors looked away. A few were visibly upset by the images of Kimberly Alger’s body the prosecutor put in front of them several times to show just how quote “heinous” this crime was.
Tears fell from the eyes of Alger’s family as they saw the images of her body for the first time. During the trial, prosecutors called several witnesses from the Lancaster Sheriff’s Department to set the stage for the jury.
The defense not questioning many of the witnesses but saying explicitly in his opening statement that his client was not guilty. He urged the jury to make a factual, logical decision instead of an emotional one.
And a very testy moment in court when the defense tried to ask Alger’s mother if she disapproved of the interracial relationship. It was discussed prior that prosecutors could not bring up previous domestic violence charges, but the defense was opening the door for that.
”For him to imply that this was an interracial thing instead of no she didn’t like him she should be able to answer now that the reason she didn’t like him is because he beat her daughter all the time,” says Prosecutor Luck Campbell.
Stack took the stand to testify about her daughter’s behavior just before she ended up dead.
“She was frightened. She was scared,” says Stack. “What did she tell you had happened?” asked Campbell. “That Derrick had strangled her,” says Stack.
“Why did you call Lancaster Sheriff’s Office that evening?” asked Campbell. “Because I needed them to check on her. I needed her out of that house,” says Stack.
But two days later…
”Gaffney police showed up at my door. They came. And my husband went out but I just knew,” says Stack.
The prosecution continues with more witness on the stand tomorrow. This is an ongoing trial, and WBTV will continue to bring you the latest information.
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