Monday, August 11, 2014
Caleb Brad Matlock pleaded guilty to the murder of two young women Monday, abruptly ending a trial in a case that rocked Berkeley County two years ago.
Matlock, 25, of Summerville, pleaded guilty to murdering 18-year-old Dana Woods and 22-year-old June Guerry in August 2012. He was sentenced to two terms of 55 years in prison, which will run concurrently.
The prison term also covers charges of armed robbery, third-degree arson and possession of a firearm during commission of a violent crime.
There is no parole for murder in South Carolina, so Matlock cannot be released until 2069, when he would be 80 years old.
Matlock's cousin, Arthur Ray Chavis, is also accused of murder and is awaiting trial. Both men were 23 at the time of the murders.
Stuart Axelrod, of Myrtle Beach, is Matlock's defense attorney.
“He wanted to accept responsibility for what he did,” Axelrod said Monday outside the Berkeley County Courthouse. “He didn't want to put the family through a trial and cause them any more pain.
“I'm glad the judge didn't give him (a life sentence). There is a possibility he will testify against his codefendant.”
Jury selection began Monday morning in Matlock's trial before the guilty plea.
While the family of the two slain women were spared the ordeal of a trial, the anguish of living with the fact of two lives cut tragically short lingers.
“There's some closure,” said Charles Edward Britt, who is Guerry's father. “But it doesn't make up for what he did. We are reminded of (June) every day. We see her in our granddaughter (June's young daughter). There are constant reminders.”
The killings stunned people in the quiet, tight-knit towns of Moncks Corner and Cordesville in the summer of 2012. It started when the two young women were first reported missing by Woods' mother, Jennifer Hill, on Aug. 27.
Hill said the two girls were friends, and that they were on their way to Pinopolis the night before. The girls were last heard from in a phone message shortly before midnight Aug. 26.
Authorities said the two girls met Matlock and Chavis the night of Aug. 26 and gave them a ride. Guerry and Matlock had known each other when they were younger, and authorities believe the two men used the request for a ride as a ruse to rob the women.
Woods' body was found in woods in the Cordesville area near her burned car Aug. 27 after a man looking for a fishing hole spotted her car. Guerry's body was found a day later by a man who spotted bright clothing in a remote area near Alvin.
Authorities have not given a motive for the killings.