HAMPTON, S.C. (Jan. 11, 2024) – A Hampton County resident who shot an Estill woman outside a grocery store has been convicted of voluntary manslaughter.
Tiffany Rebecca Owens, who turns 36 later this week, was found guilty Thursday by a Hampton County General Sessions jury. She shot and killed 37-year-old Tijuana Demetrius Johnson outside the Galaxy Foods grocery store in May 2021.
Owens was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
“Fortunately, Ms. Owens’ act was captured on the store’s surveillance cameras,” said Reed Evans of the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, who prosecuted the case. “She tried to claim that she fired in self defense, but the footage clearly demonstrated otherwise.”
Law enforcement was dispatched to the scene when Owens’ mother called 9-1-1, shortly after receiving a call from her daughter claiming that she was being harassed at the grocery store. Her mother indicated that her daughter was waiting in the parking lot so that she could confront the woman when she exited the store.
By the times officers arrived on the scene, Owens was gone, but they found Johnson lying in the parking lot near her car, bleeding from a gunshot wound to her chest. Johnson died en route to the hospital.
Owens turned up shortly thereafter at the Estill Police Department. She was arrested after investigators reviewed surveillance video from the grocery store.
Footage shows the suspect pulling into the parking lot and parking front of the store. Owens then went into the store, made a purchase and returned to her black Honda Accord. She remained parked there. Several minutes later, Johnson emerged from her car and walked casually toward the store. She appeared to stop and trade words with Owens, who still sat in her vehicle.
The surveillance video has no audio track, but a witness testified that Owens told Johnson, “That’s all right; I’ll be here when you get back” as Johnson walked into the store.
Owens then retrieved something from a rear compartment of her vehicle before returning to the driver’s seat. Johnson and a grocery store bagger exited about five minutes later and walked toward Johnson’s car. Owens and Johnson again exchanged words, and Owens drove her car toward the victim. Johnson then moved toward Owens’ driver-side window.
Owens then shot Johnson on the right side of her chest with a Ruger .380-caliber handgun. The bullet pierced Johnson’s lung.
Evans called 11 witnesses during a three-day trial at the Hampton County Courthouse.
Circuit Court Judge Carmen T. Mullen handed down the sentence.
Evans is a member of the Solicitor’s Office Career Criminal Unit, which prosecutes the circuit’s most violent and habitual offenders. That team has secured convictions against 479 of the 524 defendants it has prosecuted since its inception in 2009.