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KCSO arrests one in moped murder

Posted: August 29, 2013 5:10 p.m.
Updated: August 30, 2013 5:00 a.m.
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Willie Thomas Starnes

Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) deputies arrested one of two men accused of deliberately running over a man riding a moped who later died of his injuries.

According to a KCSO press release, deputies arrested Willie Thomas Starnes, 32, of Magnum Road, Bethune, Tuesday and charged him with armed robbery and murder after determine he stole a moped from the victim, identified as Alan Thomas Robinson, 67, also of Bethune. Deputies are still looking for the other, unidentified man.

The incident took place Saturday, Aug. 24; Kershaw County Coroner Johnny Fellers said Robinson died Sunday of blunt force trauma.

A KCSO deputy responded to KershawHealth on Aug. 24 to take a report stating that Robinson had been struck by a motor vehicle and his moped stolen. KCSO investigators initially thought Robinson had been the victim of a hit-and-run motor vehicle accident. Further investigation revealed the suspects intentionally struck him with a 199 Tahoe being operated by Starnes.

The investigation revealed Starnes intentionally struck the moped and stole it with the intention of selling it and using the money to purchase crack cocaine, according to a KCSO press release. Deputies recovered the moped in Lancaster County with assistance from the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office which worked closely with Kershaw County during the investigation.

Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews said Starnes has been “less than cooperative” in identifying his accomplice.

“Situations like this, which happen on a regular basis, are exactly why drug dealers do not need to be shown leniency as has been recently proposed by the U.S. Justice Department,” Matthews said. “The drugs that end up in our communities are a factor in violent crimes such as this, as they are in far too many other criminal acts.”

Matthews said Robinson revealed before he died that he was riding his moped down Freeman Road outside  Bethune when he heard a vehicle behind him accelerate just before he was hit. Robinson said he was knocked off his moped and that Starnes and another person stole his moped and loaded it into the Tahoe. Starnes and his accomplice departed, turned around and drove back by Robinson, offering him no help.

One of Robinson’s family members who lived nearby was driving down Freeman Road a short time later when they observed Robinson lying on the side of the road and called 911. Kershaw Health EMS responded and transported Robinson to Kershaw Health hospital in Camden. Due to the severity of Robinson’s injuries, he was flown to Palmetto Health Richland where he underwent surgery, but died from massive internal injuries the next day.

The KCSO received a tip that Starnes was involved in the incident. A S.C. Highway Patrol trooper and a KCSO investigator went to the scene of the accident Monday and found Starnes walking down the road nearby. Starnes accompanied the investigator to the sheriff’s office where he was interviewed and subsequently detailed his involvement in the incident. Following Starnes’ interview, he was placed under arrest and charged with murder and armed robbery.

Starnes has a previous arrest and conviction for assault and battery with intent to kill for which he served 10 years in prison. In that incident, Starnes and an accomplice robbed and assaulted an elderly woman who died from her injuries. Starnes is currently being detained at the Kershaw County Detention Center awaiting a bond hearing before a circuit court judge.

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