Man charged in murder of Darlington Co. grandmother, grandchild pleads guilty to avoid death penalty

Pee Dee Crime

DARLINGTON COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – The man charged in the 2016 homicides of a Darlington County woman and her granddaughter pleaded guilty Wednesday during a virtual court hearing.

Cephas Cowick at hearing

Cephas Cowick pleaded guilty to eight indictments stemming from the incident, including two counts of murder. Wednesday’s guilty plea was part of a negotiation with the state, which agreed to take its pursuit of the death penalty off the table.

Cowick now faces life in prison without parole. He faces concurrent sentences on the other indictments.

Deziyah Davis, 9, and her grandmother, 52-year-old Denise Couplin were found dead in a home off Highway 151 on July 17, 2016, after prosecutors say Cowick shot them.

In addition to two counts of murder, Cowick was also charged with criminal conspiracy, armed robbery, first degree burglary, grand larceny, possession of a weapon during a violent crime and third degree arson.

Some of the victims’ family members voiced their frustrations during Wednesday’s hearing , wishing that a trial would have taken place.

“That’s nothing, life in jail,” said Clarence Buckner III, the son of Denise Couplin. “He’s already been in jail for four years. He smiles. He’s good. I hear about him, he’s fine, he’s good, he’s happy. I mean, come on, really? How much can somebody take? How much? How much do you think I can take?”

“That was my heart,” Buckner said. “That was my life. That was my everything.”

Tonay Davis, who lost both her daughter and mother in the incident, was angry about the process and investigation.

“We were left in the back for three years,” Davis said. “There was no communication at all. Nobody communicated with me. I hear you saying, ‘Oh are you comfortable doing this live.?’ No one asked me if I was comfortable.”

Meanwhile, Couplin’s oldest son Maurice had pointed words for Cowick.

“She looked at you as a son,” he said. “I’m hurt. I’m mad. I’m always mad, Cephas. Always.”

The Honorable Eugene Griffith Junior presided over the hearing.

Deputy Solicitor of the Fourth Circuit Kernard Redmond said the deal was a difficult decision for him.

Katherine Baucom-Cowick, Cephas’ wife, is still awaiting a separate trial. She is also charged in this chase. Prosecutors have not yet said when that will be. Count on News13 for updates.

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