14th Circuit Solicitor's Office​

Allendale, Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties​

Beaufort man convicted of drug trafficking in absentia

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Prosecutor secures 2nd conviction in jury trial in as many weeks

BEAUFORT, SC (Wednesday, November 10, 2021) – A Beaufort County man who failed to show up for his trial on drug charges was convicted in absentia Tuesday.

A Beaufort County General Sessions Court jury found Terrio Jacquard Thomas, 37, guilty of one count of trafficking methamphetamine between 28 and 100 grams, possession of cocaine, and possession of marijuana. Thomas’ sentence was set Tuesday by Circuit Court Judge Carmen T. Mullen, but it is under seal and will not be made public until Thomas is apprehended.

“The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office and the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office built a case upon incontrovertible evidence and strong testimony,” said First Assistant Solicitor Mary Jordan Lempesis, who prosecuted the case. “Defendants should understand that not showing up for court is not a means of escaping justice.”

The case against Thomas was the second in as many weeks in which Lempesis secured a guilty verdict in a jury trial. On Nov. 2, a Jasper County jury convicted Euzema Maurice Austin Sr., 48, of burglary, stemming from an August 2020 incident. Austin broke into a home, assaulted two people and dragged one of them, his former girlfriend, out of the residence and down the street.

Austin faces at least 15 years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced in February.

Since the April resumption of full court activity following the COVID-19 pandemic, the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office has resolved 41 charges in jury trials, securing guilty verdicts in 32, according to statistics compiled by S.C. Court Administration. That 78% conviction rate exceeds the state rate of 68%.

The 41 charges disposed at trial also exceeds the state average of 26.

14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office

Thomas was charged with one count of trafficking methamphetamine, possession of cocaine and possession of marijuana, following a traffic stop this past March.

Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office deputies pulled him over in the Burton area for driving with tags that were registered to another vehicle.

Officers detected the strong odor of marijuana on Thomas and inside the vehicle. An open container of beer was in plain sight in the car’s center console. Officers also found:

  • A clear plastic bag containing 14.83 grams of marijuana;
  • A plastic bag with .68 grams of compressed cocaine;
  • Plastic bags containing a 44.4 grams of methamphetamine in various forms.

Thomas’ criminal history includes drug and driving offenses in both South Carolina and Georgia.

Since the April resumption of full court activity following the COVID-19 pandemic, the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office has resolved 41 charges in jury trials, securing guilty verdicts in 32, according to statistics compiled by S.C. Court Administration. That 78% conviction rate exceeds the state rate of 68%.

The 41 charges disposed at trial also exceeds the state average of 26.