Brandon Council trial begins with witness statements

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FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) Federal trial for the man charged with a deadly 2017 bank robbery in Conway started on Monday.

Brandon Council faces two indictments for committing robbery resulting in murder at the CresCom bank in Conway and for possession of a firearm used for murder. The two victims murdered were Donna Major and Katie Skeen.

On his first day of trial, Council arrived wearing a blue-button shirt with a black jacket over it and khaki pants. The outfit was paired with a navy blazer. He also wore glasses.

He sat next to his defense attorneys as opening statements were made and witnesses took the stand. Most of the time he stared directly ahead expressionless.

Donna and Katie’s loved ones were also there for the first day. Family members filled the right side of the audience and watched as graphic footage of their loved ones final moments were shown.

Prosecutors brought a total of six witnesses for the first day of trial who assisted with videos, photos and statements;

  1. Christy Johnson- She introduced herself as a bank employee at CresCom who was working on August 21, 2017, the day the robbery took place. Johnson said she was on her lunch break and returned to find crime scene tape and officers everywhere. Officers told her what occurred and she stayed on scene until 7 P.M.
  2. JaWanda Aklin- Conway Police Patrol Officer who was the first to arrive on the scene after bait money Council took set off bank alarm. Video surveillance video shows Aklin checking scene and discovering Donna Major’s body lying face down behind teller counter. She calls EMS and backup but did not discover the second victim right away.
  3. Steven Collington- He works for the video security company used by CresCom bank, and says there were nine cameras inside at time of robbery.
  4. Freda Gore- CresCom Bank Security Officer who said bank employees are trained to give money to robbers and to press an emergency button to alert police. Gore said Council took a total of $15,294 from bank, but $10,065 was recovered through bait bills which have serial numbers to show their location. Those documents were presented .
  5. Dennis McClain- He is a Crime Scene Investigator for Horry County who documented the crime scene and collected evidence. He was the lead investigator on the CresCom case and took very graphic images of Katie and Donna’s injuries. Those images were showed in court. McClain said the autopsy showed each victim suffered from gunshot wounds to their brain and chest.
  6. Dale Long- Conway Police Chief who was a detective on the date of the crime. He was the second person on the scene to assist Officer Aklin. Chief Long reviewed surveillance footage from bank and sent snapshot to media for identification assistance. After receiving several leads, he learned Council stayed at Conway Express Inn’s room 110, and conducted a search warrant. Long said police in Wilson, North Carolina helped with identifying Council.

The CresCom double murder trial will continue on Tuesday. Count on News13 for all updates.

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