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Baseball bat attacker pleads guilty, receives 11 years

Posted: July 10, 2014 5:30 p.m.
Updated: July 11, 2014 5:00 a.m.

A 21-year-old Lugoff man who admits he attacked a Camden man with a baseball bat last July will spend 11 years behind bars after pleading guilty to a charge of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. Ryan Freeland Trojan was originally charged with attempted murder in the attack, but accepted a deal to plead guilty to the lesser charge.

Circuit Court Judge DeAndrea Benjamin imposed the sentence Wednesday after hearing the details of the case from 5th Judicial District Assistant Solicitor Brett Perry and Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Justin Dill. Perry asked Benjamin for a 20-year sentence for Trojan. Defense attorney Ron Moak and Trojan gave a different story of the attack and asked for a lighter sentence.

Deputies arrested Trojan after he and the victim attended a party in Lugoff on July 14, 2013. He and the victim had a prior history of problems and the victim and his friends left the party to avoid trouble, Dill testified. He said the group realized a cell phone and purse had been left at the party and called the resident there for permission to return to retrieve the items. They did return and that’s when Trojan attacked the victim with a metal baseball bat, hitting him on the back of the head and on his body. He suffered a fractured skull, brain damage and had teeth knocked out in the assault and was taken to a Columbia hospital where he spent several days in intensive care.

“At no time during the night did the victim ever attempt or offer to fight the defendant. He never provoked the defendant. He never went after the defendant,” Perry said, adding that if the case went to trial there were witnesses to confirm the victim’s story. “He chose to do the right thing, your honor. He chose to walk away rather than engage in a fight when provoked.”

Perry said the victim had been accepted by and intended to make a career in the U.S. Marine Corps, but his injuries and ongoing health problems from the assault halted those plans.

“He was recently accepted into the Marines and he had promised his father he would not get into any trouble because he wanted to go into the military and expected to have a career in the military,” Perry said. “He didn’t want to have to go back to that house after they left. The only reason they came back is because items of personal property had been left there. When he came back to the house he was ambushed from behind, beaten in the head with a baseball bat.”

Moak said there were other witnesses that would back up Trojan’s story that his assault was not the ambush attack Perry was making it out to be. He said Trojan was also leaving the party and was in his car when the victim returned for the purse and cell phone and he felt threatened, responding with the bat.

“There’s a lot of stuff going on here that’s not something that happened … where he just walked up to somebody at a party and hit him with a bat,” Moak said.

Before Benjamin announced the sentence Trojan offered an apology to the victim and to his mother.

“I am truly sorry for the financial stress of this. I understand that this has been hard,” Trojan said. “I’ve regretted it every day since. I never meant for this to happen, never wanted to put you in the hospital.”

After the proceeding, the victim’s mother said she was satisfied with the 11-year sentence.

“I think that’s what we were kind of expecting. We were glad that he at least got 10 years,” she said.

The victim also said the penalty was fair and he only wanted Trojan to fully realize attacking another person with a bat comes with consequences.

“I didn’t want him to do 30, maybe not even 20. I just wanted him to realize you can’t do that,” he said.

Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews said the sentence was appropriate and the attack could have ended much worse.

“He could have easily killed this kid with the bat. I think 11 years is justified. I’m sure some people think it should have been more and some people think it should have been less,” Matthews said. “In today’s world that’s a pretty long sentence.”

Perry later explained that because of the seriousness of the charge, Trojan is required to serve at least 85 percent of the 11-year term, which is approximately nine years and four months.

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