COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The man who kidnapped and killed Gabbiee Swainson will spend the next 30 years in state prison for his actions, after negotiating a deal with authorities.
In front of a packed Richland County courtroom, Freddie Grant, 53, agreed to plead guilty and accept concurrent sentences of 30 years on charges of kidnapping and murder with no chance for parole in return for showing authorities where the 15-year-old's body was buried.
He faced up to life in prison.
"This case has deeply affected our community," said the judge. "I will go along with this negotiation because of the need for Gabbiee's family to have closure."
Fifth Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson and Richland County Leon Lott, the two men responsible for the agreement with Grant, were in attendance to explain the process behind the negotiations.
Johnson said he and Lott began mulling approaching Grant's attorney, a public defender, after the sheriff came to the conclusion that searchers may never find the Ridge View High School student.
Ultimately, it was the discovery of Gabbiee's cell phone behind a Myrtle Beach grocery store that helped to break open the case, Johnson said.
"That made us feel we were able to approach this defendant," Johnson told the Court.
According to Johnson, Grant bound Gabbiee's hands and face and suffocated her before disposing of her body in a deep grave not far from his Elgin home.
Grant is currently serving a 18-year federal sentence on an ammunition conviction. He is appealing that sentence. The federal sentence will run concurrently with the state sentence.
As part of the deal, Grant will not be able to appeal the state ruling.
His release date is scheduled for sometime in August of 2043.
"This case has affected the community that we live in," said the judge. "No matter what part of town you live in, no matter what your socioeconomic status is."
"I need for Gabbiee's family to have closure," the judge told Elvia Swainson as he appeared to hold back emotion."I need the community to know that we will not tolerate this type of behavior.
"I can't begin to fathom the torture, the torment, the sleepless nights, the uncontrollable crying," he said. "I wouldn't wish that on anybody."
"I've thought about this case and I've struggled with whether or not to accept this negotiation," the Judge said between long pauses. "I was reminded of the words of Christ, where he said in Luke that 'it would be better for a man to have a millstone tied around his neck and thrown into the bottom of the sea than to cause a child to suffer.'"