Florence County man out on bond for murder when he killed again, officials say

FLORENCE (WBTW) - Florence County deputies searched for days before they found 22-year-old Zafir Abdul Bethea after he allegedly shot and killed 23-year-old Ellie Becoat on Main street in Pamplico on Sunday.

Florence County Solicitor Ed Clements, said Bethea was out of jail on a $125,000 bond for the 2015 murder of Terrell Smith when he allegedly killed another man Sunday afternoon. According to court documents, Bethea was charged with murder, possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, and possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number on May 20, 2015. He was later indicted in March 2016 for attempted armed robbery.

Clements said it took a period of time before Bethea was able to make that bond. He said everyone is entitled to a reasonable bond and that there are two factors when a bond is determined: risk of flight and danger to the community. Clements said Bethea had multiple bond hearings and Clements opposed them.

"All we can do is present a case that he's a risk of flight and a danger to the community," said Clements. "I don't know how you do that any stronger than to say he's charged with killing somebody."

Clements said the defense requested a trial continuance for Smith's murder because they said they have an out-of-state witness. The trial continuance was supposed to happen on Monday, Oct. 9.

"We were set to go to trial for a day in this term of court, then Sunday happened," said Clements.

Court documents from the Florence County Clerk's office show Bethea had four bond requirements:

  1. Electronic Monitoring with home detention
  2. May attend church, work, attorney appointments, and doctor appointments
  3. Must reside with mother
  4. Shall not have any contact directly or indirectly with the victim's family

Clements said Bethea disarmed the ankle monitor the morning of Oct. 1 and then turned it back on later that evening, after the murder happened. Clements says he doesn't know who was in charge of monitoring Bethea.

"It's kind of hit or miss, they could be real good at monitoring their people and keeping up with them or they could be slack," said Clements.

News13 contacted the Florence County Sherriff's Office, the Florence County Jail, and the Florence County Clerk about which ankle monitoring company was used to monitor Bethea's whereabouts, but nobody from those departments could answer our question.

News13 then contacted two ankle monitoring companies that Sgt. Teresa Henneghan with the Florence County Jail said the jail typically uses. One company could definitively say that Bethea was not in its system, the other company said it couldn't give any information on its clients.

The Pamplico community and family members of Becoat held a vigil for the 23-year-old on Monday.

Ticey Fleming said she hopes to see justice for her friend.

"I hope he would leave a legacy where the young men would put down the guns, get their education, get their life together and live a good example before everybody," said Fleming.

Anyone with information is asked to contact FCSO Investigators at 843-665-2121, ext. 372, Crime Stoppers of the Pee Dee at 1-888-CRIME-SC or text tip at #CRIME.  You do not have to reveal your identity to leave information.

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