Solicitor's Office secures conviction against Beaufort man who beat ex-girlfriend, set house on fire

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Solicitor's Office secures conviction against Beaufort man who beat ex-girlfriend, set house on fire

2018-05-31

A 27-year-old Beaufort man who brutally attacked his ex-girlfriend as she bathed, held her and another man at gunpoint and endangered a 2-year-old by setting their home on fire, was sentenced Thursday, the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office announced.

Jessie Matthew Gibbens pleaded guilty Feb. 2, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison Thursday following a court-ordered evaluation.

Gibbens broke into his ex-girlfriend’s home Nov. 21, 2015 and beat her in the bathroom. When her boyfriend tried to protect her, the men fought. The woman grabbed her daughter, locked herself in a bedroom and called police. She told Gibbens law enforcement was on the way, and he left the home.

Hours later, Gibbens returned, this time carrying a gas can and armed with a shotgun. Standing in the living room, Gibbens made the woman and her boyfriend get down on their knees and began beating them with the butt the of the gun. He locked the woman’s daughter in a bedroom. When the woman tried rescuing the girl, Gibbens threw the woman to the floor. The woman’s boyfriend ran to a neighbor’s house for help. She also ran to get help. Meanwhile, Gibbens set his ex-girlfriend’s house on fire with the child still inside. The woman saved her little girl by breaking out a window.

Gibbens pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder, two counts of first-degree burglary, two counts of second-degree assault and battery, two counts of kidnapping, possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, third-degree arson and false imprisonment.

Gibbens was sentenced to serve 30 years for each of the attempted murder charges, 30 years for each of burglary, 30 years for each kidnapping, 15 years for arson, 5 years for the weapons charge and three years for the assaults. The sentences are to be served concurrently.

The case was prosecuted by Randolph Murdaugh, III, special assistant solicitor assigned to the Career Criminal Prosecution Team.

Circuit Court Judge Perry M. Buckner handed down Thursday’s sentence.

Duffie Stone

Solicitor Duffie Stone