CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – A woman has been found guilty of burglarizing a North Charleston home while the victims were evacuated during Hurricane Florence in 2018.
Sheena Shanay Alston, 42, was found guilty of first-degree burglary earlier this month by a jury in Charleston County, Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said on Monday.
Prosecutors said the burglary happened during the early morning hours of Sept. 14, 2018, while Hurricane Florence was making landfall along the South Carolina coast. They said Alston and another person scouted the victim’s home, and after finding no signs of anyone there, removed a window air-conditioning unit and climbed through the opening into a child’s bedroom.
A neighbor saw the break-in happening and called 911 to report the crime. An officer with the North Charleston Police Department arrived within minutes while Alston was still inside the home.
“As the officer approached the home, Alston spotted him and slammed the front door locking herself inside,” said Wilson’s office. The officer made demands for Alston to exit, but she escaped through a bedroom window.
An accomplice identified Alston as the burglar, and investigators were able to connect her to the crime through phone records and a white and pink cell phone that she dropped while trying to escape police custody.
Wilson’s office said Alston was found six days later at a gas station on Midland Park Road; investigators tracked her to an apartment where she was found hiding under the kitchen sink and taken into custody.
Alston failed to appear for this month’s trial, according to Wilson, prompting Judge Robert J. Bonds to seal the sentence and issued a bench warrant for her arrest. She was taken into custody by Charleston County deputies on Thursday.
Alston faced a minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum of life in prison. Wilson said the jury reached its verdict on Aug. 2 on the second day of the trial.