BEAUFORT, SC (Aug. 25, 2022) – A Beaufort man has been sent to prison for the shooting death of his cousin during a drug-fueled dispute.
A Beaufort County General Sessions jury on Thursday found Delmar Recory Sanders, 30, guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the 2021 death of 31-year-old Deonne McLendon. He also was convicted of possession of a weapon during commission of a violent crime. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison – 30 for voluntary manslaughter and five for the weapons charge, to be served consecutively.
“Mr. Sanders gave no fewer than three contradictory versions of events the night he gunned down his own cousin,” said Mary Jones of the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, who prosecuted the case. “The facts made clear what Delmar Sanders would not – that he wasn’t defending himself and that his drug use does not excuse his actions.”
On July 27, 2021, Sanders and McLendon were partying together and consuming cocaine. They met up with Rhonda Randall and decided to go to an ATM so that Sanders could get money with which to purchase more drugs.
On the drive, McLendon and Randall complained of Sanders’ erratic driving, but he refused to let one of his passengers take the wheel of his red Dodge Durango SUV. Sanders later claimed to Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office investigators that the drugs he took that night made him “paranoid” that McLendon and Randall planned to rob or kill him. He also claimed McLendon held a gun in his lap during the ride, though there was no evidence to support his assertion.
Sanders pulled over near the intersection of Stanley Farm Road and Laurel Bay Road in northern Beaufort County, ostensibly to let McLendon drive. However, when McLendon walked around the car, Sanders shot McLendon twice. Both shots hit McLendon in his abdomen.
Sanders then turned to the back seat and shot Randall. She was struck in the arm and scampered out of the vehicle. Sanders drove away.
McLendon attempted to run away but collapsed about 100 yards from the scene of the shooting. As he awaited the arrival of an emergency medical crew, he told a sheriff’s deputy who shot him. McLendon died enroute to the hospital.
Sanders turned himself in to authorities in Camden County, Ga. He initially told investigators that, in addition to McLendon and Randall, two other men were in the car with him and that one of them was responsible for the shootings. When confronted with McLendon’s dying declaration, Sanders changed his story, blaming his own drug-induced paranoia for the shootings. He also told investigators he threw the gun out the car window during his drive to Georgia. The murder weapon was never recovered.
During his trial and pre-trial hearings, Sanders’ story changed again. He claimed he did not shoot McLendon and Randall because the drugs made him irrational, but because McLendon and Randall actually intended to rob him.
Sanders’ criminal record includes convictions for domestic violence, domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature, and possession of cocaine and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.
Circuit Court Judge Heath Taylor handed down the sentence.
Jones is a member of the Solicitor’s Office Career Criminal Unit, which prosecutes the circuit’s most violent and habitual offenders. The team has earned convictions against 420 of the 452 defendants it has prosecuted since its formation in 2009.