Jury convicts felon in Beaufort kidnapping case

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Jury convicts felon in Beaufort kidnapping case

2018-02-22

A Beaufort man who held the friend of a former roommate at gunpoint has been found guilty of kidnapping.

Varsheen “Twiz” Smith, 42, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the Oct. 25, 2015 kidnapping of Andre Frazier. He also was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. He received five-year sentences for each of the gun charges, to be served concurrently with the kidnapping sentence.

Frazier went to Smith’s Green Street house to visit his longtime friend and Smith’s roommate, Vermon Steve. Steve wasn’t home and Smith, along with third man, Tyrone Wallace, forced Frazier into the house.

“This defendant terrorized Mr. Frazier by tying his hands behind his back with a belt, stuffing a sock into his mouth and pointing a gun at his stomach,” said Assistant Solicitor Mary Concannon Jones. “By luck, Beaufort police officers were responding to a noise complaint as Mr. Frazier was bound in a back bedroom. If those officers hadn’t shown up when they did, it’s likely this case would have had a very different outcome.”

Steve’s remains were found Nov. 18, 2015, on Pea Patch Road on St. Helena Island, several weeks after Frazier’s kidnapping.

Jones called 14 witnesses during the two-trial. Among them was Frazier.

“I don’t know what would have happened to me if the police weren’t out there,” Frazier said while on the witness stand. “I didn’t even have time to pray. I was just waiting for that gun to go ‘pop’.”

Beaufort Police were called to Green Street twice the night of Frazier’s kidnapping. First, for a disturbance call just before 8 p.m. and then about 30 minutes later for a “shots fired” call.

The jury was shown an interview video of Smith with Beaufort Police investigators after Smith was captured by U.S. Marshals in Hall County, Ga. In it, Smith is reluctant to answer questions about where he lives and what happened the night of Oct. 25, 2015.

Once investigators leave the interview room and he is alone, Smith slides back in his chair, kicks out his legs and leans his head against the wall. With folded arms, he chuckles.

“This is a man who does not care,” Jones said during her closing arguments. “This is a man who thinks he’s invincible. This is a man who thinks someone won’t snitch on him. He laughs about  a missing person. He laughs at a kidnapping. This is an evil man.”

Circuit Court Judge Brooks Goldsmith handed down the sentence.

Smith’s criminal record includes serving 14 years in federal prison on a burglary conviction.

Jones is a member of the Solicitor’s Office’s Career Criminal Unit, which prosecutes the circuit’s most habitual and violent offenders. That team has convicted 47 of 50 defendants since the start of 2017.

Smith still faces a pending charge of accessory after the fact to murder in Steve’s death. Charges are pending against Wallace, 23, as well. The St. Helena Island man is charged with Steve’s murder and Frazier’s kidnapping. All defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty.

 

 

Duffie Stone

Solicitor Duffie Stone