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Suspect in 2011 murder jailed for 50 years

Posted: March 13, 2014 4:42 p.m.
Updated: March 14, 2014 5:00 a.m.

One of five men charged in connection with a May 2011 crime spree that ended with the murder of a county man will be 73 years old when he walks out of jail. Wednesday, Frank Terrance Singleton III, 26, of Camden, pled guilty to murder, armed robbery, burglary and two counts of kidnapping. After hearing from the solicitor’s office, the victim’s family, Singleton’s family and Singleton himself, Circuit Court Judge Robert E. Hood laid down a 50-year prison sentence.

By pleading to murder, Singleton must spend all 50 years of the sentence day for day, minus the time he has served since being arrested nearly three years ago.

For five days in mid-May 2011, Singleton and at least some combination of four co-defendants are thought to have terrorized the east Camden and Camden communities. The group allegedly participated in a series of east Camden home invasions, the armed robbery of the Food Lion store in Camden’s Dusty Bend and, finally, the May 16, 2011, invasion of a Sandspur Road home just northwest of Camden where 39-year-old Michael Hayes was shot to death.

Singleton pled guilty only to charges connected with Hayes’ murder.

Singleton’s four co-defendants -- Curtis Quandal Drakeford, 23; Jerome Ricky Lewis, 36; Lewis’ cousin, Randy Arthur Lewis, 29; and Arthur Macklin III, 27, all of Camden -- still face charges in connection with Hayes’ murder. Drakeford, Jerome Lewis and Macklin are still being held at the Kershaw County Detention Center (KCDC).

Randy Lewis is out on bond. In 2011, deputies determined he did not directly participate in the murder but charged him with being an accessory before the fact, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and criminal conspiracy. A judge set a surety bond for Randy Lewis at $25,000.

In August 2011, further investigation into the crime spree revealed that Randy Lewis and Singleton participated in a November 2008 fatal home invasion near the town of Kershaw. Deputies charged Randy Lewis with first degree burglary, armed robbery and murder in the shooting death of 34-year-old Robert Lewis Mackey. A circuit court judge granted a $150,000 personal recognizance bond for Randy Lewis. He is free while awaiting trial for both cases.

Although Singleton will spend nearly 50 years in jail, he still faces charges in connection with Mackey’s murder. In addition, the following charges filed by the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) in June 2011 and February 2012 are still pending against Singleton: two counts of first degree burglary, two counts of armed robbery, weapons charge and kidnapping. Other charges still pending against Singleton include possessing, concealing, selling or disposing of a vehicle in April 2009; first degree assault and battery in March 2011; and third degree assault and battery by mob resulting in bodily injury in November 2012, all filed by the KCSO.

It could not be determined by press time exactly what alleged crimes resulted in the outstanding charges against Singleton.

Drakeford, Jerome Lewis and Macklin each still face charges of murder, two counts of kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, armed robbery and conspiracy to commit a felony in the Hayes case. Drakeford faces an additional first degree burglary charge, while Jerome Lewis faces an additional conspiracy charge and first degree burglary charge.

Jerome Lewis is also awaiting trial for an armed robbery charge filed by the Camden Police Department (CPD) in June 2011. It was unclear at press time whether that was connected to the Food Lion robbery. Also in June 2011, the KCSO charged him with first degree burglary. In February 2012, the KCSO also charged Jerome Lewis with first degree burglary, armed robbery and being an accessory before the fact.

The KCSO also charged Macklin in February with first degree burglary and armed robbery.

It was unclear at press time what alleged crimes account for the additional KCSO charges against Jerome Lewis and Macklin.

Fifth Circuit Assistant Solicitor Joanna McDuffie confirmed that at least some of the outstanding charges against some of the suspects are in connection with the May 2011 east Camden home invasions. However, McDuffie said she was unsure exactly which suspects had been charged in those crimes.

May 16, 2011, was a Monday. In the days before, various armed men forced their way into three different east Camden homes, robbing the occupants of cash. No one was seriously hurt during those incidents. Two of the home invasions took place on Dove Road, the third on Black River Road. It appeared two of the suspects in Hayes’ murder -- Randy and Jerome Lewis -- lived near the crime scenes.

At one point, some of Singleton’s co-defendants were also thought to be connected to the Food Lion armed robbery. In that case, three masked and armed men entered the store when it opened the morning of May 16 with 15 people inside. The men forced a manager at gunpoint to open the store’s safe, fired at a man who tried to flee and stole cell phones from two of the people inside the store.

However, it is unclear as to whether any of the suspects ever faced charges connected to the Food Lion robbery.

Sometime around 11 p.m. May 16, 2011, several men entered Hayes’ Sandspur Road home. Hayes’ girlfriend later told deputies that she was sleeping in a bedroom while Hayes was in the living room with their 5-day-old baby. She said she heard a commotion, went out to look and saw the men standing over Hayes who they had ordered to the ground. They ordered her to do the same.

Next, the men allegedly demanded money from Hayes. He complied by giving them what money he had on his person and some jewelry. They then allegedly ordered him to open a safe in the home. Hayes reportedly was forced into the bedroom where he tried, unsuccessfully, to open the safe. When he failed to do so, one of the men shot him multiple times.

Singleton pled guilty to shooting Hayes, killing him.

Singleton and the other assailants -- allegedly Jerome Lewis and Macklin, with Drakeford allegedly having driven them to the scene -- then tried to get Hayes’ girlfriend to open the safe. She, too, was unable to do so and told the men to just take the safe. Singleton and, allegedly, the others did so, but also took her and the baby with them. The woman said they drove her and the baby to another location, switched cars and drove off leaving her and the baby behind.

Late on May 17, the day after the murder, the investigation into the entire crime spree led the CPD, KCSO and S.C. State Law Enforcement Division to Drakeford’s address at the Kirkwood Apartments on Camden’s North Broad Street. The CPD called Drakeford at work telling him they were effecting a search warrant. While waiting for him to arrive, Singleton came out and was arrested on an outstanding warrant. Drakeford arrived a short time later and was arrested as well. Deputies arrested Randy Lewis at the Pathfinder Trail home outside Camden he shared with his cousin, who was arrested at a hotel in Lugoff.

While law enforcement chiefs held a press conference at KCSO headquarters two days after the murder, investigators located Macklin at his home and arrested him.

Among the evidence taken from Drakeford’s apartment: Hayes’ safe.

At one point, the CPD also thought there was a chance Singleton and/or some of his co-defendants participated in a Dec. 2010 armed robbery of a woman trying to make a night deposit at a DeKalb Street bank. The men in that case brandished a pistol at the woman and demanded her bag on money. When she refused, they struck her in the head, knocking her to the ground. That allowed them to grab the money and run.

It could not be determined at press time whether any of the remaining charges against any of the suspects in Hayes’ murder were connected to 2010 case.

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