Sampson pleas, gets 4 years

FAIRFIELD – Under a plea agreement, Kerry Sampson, 30, of Winnsboro was sentenced on Monday to 4 years in prison, reduced from 12, for the hit and run death of pedestrian John Caldwell on April 16, 2017 on Old Camden Road. The case was heard in General Sessions Court in Winnsboro by Circuit Judge Lawton McIntosh.

SAMPSON

Originally charged with reckless homicide, an uninsured motor vehicle violation, hit and run, DUI, and leaving the scene of an accident with injuries, Sampson’s attorney Geff Dunn of Rock Hill said Sampson thought he had hit a deer, not a person. Maximum sentence for the conviction of these crimes is 25 years.

Prosecutor Riley Maxwell said Sampson had left a club on Old Camden Road about 2:20 a.m., driving a 2010 Dodge sedan. Maxwell said Sampson immediately passed a pickup truck in a no-passing zone and struck Caldwell who was walking along the roadway. Witnesses in the truck said Sampson turned his car around and drove off.

Sampson drove to the home of his girlfriend, where he hid the car in the garage for several days before turning himself in, according to Maxwell.

McIntosh said no evidence was presented that Sampson had intended to hide the car or that alcohol was involved.

Asked by the judge if Caldwell could have survived had he been given aid, Maxwell said he could not have.

Families of both Sampson and Caldwell spoke at the trial.

“I know he didn’t mean to do it, but he should have stopped,” said one of Caldwell’s relatives.

“My brother didn’t deserve that,” said one of Caldwell’s sisters. “Our family has gone through hurt and agony. I can forgive, but not forget. God is good, but this was wrong.”

Trevon Kelly broke into tears as he barely spoke above a whisper in support of his stepson [Sampson.] Sampson’s mother, Gail Kelly, told the Caldwell family that she hurts for them and prayed for them and their loss continually. She said her son is not a bad person.

“He works hard as a carpet layer and does not get into trouble,” she said.

Sampson’s girlfriend’s mother read a note written by her own mother about Sampson.

“I’ve known him since he was a baby and I love him. He is one of the most respecting persons in the world. He’s a good person,” Robbie Harris read.

Sampson’s attorney, Geff Dunn, pleaded with the judge to sentence on the lower end of the punishment scale for the crime, citing that Sampson had never been in trouble and was a hard working young man. Sampson then turned to address the family of the man whose death he was responsible for.

“I’m so sorry. I didn’t see him. I didn’t. I’m just so sorry,” Sampson said, concluding his comments to the family.

Judge McIntosh lamented the scene of two families in the Courtroom, both hurting.

Sampson will serve five years of probation after he is released from prison. McIntosh said the five years can be reduced to three if Sampson strictly complies with his rules of probation.