Families of victims fill courtroom in Brandon Council death penalty trial


UPDATE TUESDAY 2 P.M.: Family members of both victims filled the courtroom on Tuesday as the Brandon Council death penalty trial began.

Several witnesses took the stand, including Christy Johnson, a CresCom bank worker, who was working with Donna Major and Katie Skeen on the day they were murdered. Johnson was on her lunch break when the crime occurred.

Freda Gore, a security officer, testified about “bait bills” that are used at the bank in case of a robbery. Brandon Council received some of those bills and with their serial numbers, Gore says the bank was able to get back $10,065 of the $15,294 he stole.

Juwanda Ackman, the first Conway police patrol officer on the scene, also took the stand on Tuesday. Bank surveillance footage was played to show the moments Ackman walked in the bank and discovered Major’s body. Ackman’s bodycam footage also was shown. More officers were seen arriving at the scene.

Steven Collington, who works for the security company that handles CresCom’s banks cameras, said the bank had nine cameras at that time.

Council used a 22-caliber pistol in the double shooting at CresCom bank in Conway, according to testimony from the prosecution.

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) The jury in the Brandon Council trial has been seated and opening statements are set to begin on Tuesday.

The jury selection process began Sept. 9 and the process concluded on Monday.

Council is being charged on a two-count indictment after committing a bank robbery resulting in the death of two individuals and for possessing a firearm and using it for murder. The crimes occurred in 2017 at the CresCom bank in Conway.

To qualify, jurors had to fill out a questionnaire followed by extensive in-person follow-up questions. Each person had to be confident in considering both aggravating and mitigating factors for the trial.

Aggravating factors are evidence to be used by prosecutors that is related to the crime. Meanwhile, mitigating factors have nothing to do with the crime and can be Council’s childhood or background.

Count on News13 for all updates on this trial.

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