James Daniels guilty of murder in Sunhouse employee killing


CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – After spending less than three hours deliberating, a jury found James Daniels guilty of murder in the killing of a Sunhouse employee.

Just after 3 p.m. Thursday, the jury returned the guilty verdict, convicting Daniels of murder and two counts of armed robbery for driving the getaway vehicle in the 2015 Sunhouse convenience store robbery that left Trisha Stull dead.

Testimony from Lt. Peter Cestare started day two of the trial Wednesday morning. Lt. Cestare said he was looking at surveillance video from the Sunhouse on Cultra road and 30 minutes before the actual armed robbery and murder of Trisha stull on January 25, 2015, James Daniels was in the store.

Cestare also said he saw a Chevy Malibu in the surveillance footage from the Sunhouse on January 25 and another armed robbery on January 2 of 2015.  SCHP trooper Tyler Luther was called to the stand. He testified that Lt. Cestare gave him a suspect name and pulled DMV records to show that James Daniels was driving a 2012 Chevy Malibu at one point. Daniels admits to driving the car in a statement.

The defense argued there was no DNA evidence that linked Daniels to the case, but the jury didn’t buy in.

Daniels is charged in connection to another armed robbery that occurred Jan. 2, 2015, but Thursday’s verdict only pertains to the armed robbery and murder that happened on Jan. 25, 2015.

Detective Lent with the Horry County police department took the stand Wednesday afternoon. He responded to the armed robbery and murder call. While the detective was emotional on the stand, Daniels showed no reaction.

After evidence was presented to Detective Lent, he went to a nearby home to speak to Daniels. Daniels willingly went with Lent to conduct an interview and was placed under arrest not long after that.

In the recording, Daniels said he went inside the Sunhouse convenience store to buy a soda. He said he talked to the clerk and even flirted with her. He said he came back out and the two other suspects Jerome Jenkins and McKinley Daniels were not in the car. Daniels states he drove away circled and came back by the store, and that’s when he heard gunshots. Jenkins and McKinley got back in the car and told him to drive.

“I will take ownership of conspiracy after the fact, but I didn’t shoot nobody. I didn’t murder anybody,” said Daniels in an interview recording.

A jury decided Thursday that Daniels did commit murder, and a judge sentenced him to life without parole.

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