FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – Brandon Council has been sentenced to death in the deadly 2017 CresCom bank robbery.
The jury made the decision around 10:20 a.m Thursday morning, sentencing Council to death on a two-count indictment. The indictments included bank robbery resulting in death and possession of a firearm used for murder.
It took the jury about five hours to deliberate. Trial lasted almost three weeks. Prosecutors held a press conference after the verdict.
“It was an important day for the Major family and the Skeen family. I think they wanted to be sure that their family wasn’t forgotten. That Katie and Donna weren’t forgotten, and think this jury’s verdict speaks a long way towards assuring that,” said U.S Attorney Nathan Williams.
Conway Police Chief Dale Long said August 21, 2017 impacted the community forever.
“It certainly ripped the fabric of our city because we are very peaceful, and the events that happened on that day, as you see evidenced in court today, are nothing that is going to hold us back. We see that the final verdict is that good has overcome evil,” he said.
Defense Attorneys attempted to win jurors through Council’s background which include physical abuse, sexual abuse and loneliness.
“Everybody has some things in their past that they want to be considered,” said Prosecutor Everett McMillan. “At the end of the day, I feel this jury focused on what happened on August 21st. They focused on the aggravating evidence that made this a death penalty case and their verdict reflects that.”
There are currently 84 people sentenced to death on the federal level in the United States, according to Robert Dunham, Executive Director of Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C. Of these, 61 have active death sentences, but only three federal executions have taken place. These three executions were in 2002 and 2003.
Dunham also told News13 Council’s federal death sentence is the first this year in the United States.
Katie Skeen and Donna Major were killed during the robbery.
On September 24, Council was found guilty after 45 minutes of deliberation for the double murder and robbery.
The penalty phase began with opening statements from prosecutors and the defense.
On September 23, Council was examined by a psychologist and psychiatrist and found competent to stand trial for the double-murder. Trial resumed on September 24.
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