Hilton Head man gets 15 years for Sea Pines robbery
BEAUFORT – A 24-year-old Hilton Head Island man was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Monday, April 22, 2013 for robbing the South Beach General Store on Labor Day weekend 2012.
Just before his trial was to begin this week, Rion Beaty pleaded guilty to armed robbery, kidnapping and possession of a weapon during commission of a violent crime. There were no plea negotiations.
On September 2, 2012, Beaty walked into the South Beach General Store, 232 South Sea Pines Drive, and asked an employee if they had additional merchandise in the back storage room. The employee, who found the question very suspicious, told him they did not. Beaty, who wore a blue bandana around his neck, left the store.
A few minutes later, he returned wearing the bandana covering his face and latex gloves. He entered the back room, pointed a pistol at the employee and demanded money. The manager gave him $4,000 in cash from the safe. Beaty said he wanted more money and pushed the manager into the corner of the room, where he threatened to kill him before ultimately leaving after being told that was all the money in the store.
The hostess of a nearby restaurant where Beaty had recently worked recognized him as he left the scene and noticed that he was carrying a pistol. Police recovered the bandana from the South Beach Marina parking lot. A DNA analysis found forensic matter from four different individuals on it and could not exclude Beaty as a contributor. Additionally, two store employees picked Beaty out of a photo lineup.
“This was a brazen act of violence committed in front of several children and families at a tourist destination on one of the most crowded weekends on Hilton Head Island,” said assistant solicitor Ben Shelton, a member of the Career Criminal Prosecution Unit. “I am thankful that the victim responded as calmly as he did, which resulted in nobody being injured. The cooperation we received from witnesses and the thorough investigation by the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office were crucial factors in getting one of the island’s most dangerous criminals off the streets before he was able to strike again.”
Beaty has prior convictions for assault and battery, disturbing schools, carrying a weapon onto school property, discharging a firearm, possession of a controlled substance and underage possession of alcohol.
Judge J. Ernest Kinard, Jr. handed down the sentence. By law, Beaty must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole.