RIDGELAND, SC (July 23, 2021) – A Ridgeland man has been convicted in connection with the 2018 death of a 2-year-old child, who was shot through the wall of his home as he slept with his mother.
Dionte D’Chon Habersham, 21, was found guilty Thursday by a Jasper County General Sessions Court jury for the murder of Moises Montano. The shooting was apparently motivated by a property dispute between Montano’s parents and their neighbors, who are related to Habersham.
Habersham also was convicted of shooting into a dwelling and possession of a weapon during commission of a violent crime. He was sentenced to 33 years in prison.
“There should have been no safer place in the world for Moises Montano than asleep in his home, next to his mother,” said Deputy Solicitor Sean Thornton, who prosecuted the case. “I’ve been at this a while, but this is one of the most heartbreaking crimes I’ve ever prosecuted.”
Just before 10 p.m. on Aug. 16, 2018, the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office was called to the Montano residence on Fordville Road, where Habersham fired several rounds through an exterior wall of the mobile home. One bullet struck 2-year-old Moises Montano in the head, killing him as he slept in a rear bedroom with his mother.
The murder weapon was never recovered, but investigators from the sheriff’s office and the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division discovered eight, fired 9 mm casings in a field, about 100 feet behind the residence. SLED analysts later determined they were all fired from the same gun. Investigators also discovered footprints leading to the area where the casings were discovered.
Preceding the shooting, the Montanos quarreled with neighbors over a row of logs that Moises Montano’s father, Nelson, placed along the property line. He testified that they were placed to keep his neighbors from driving their vehicles over his home’s septic system.
Habersham is related to the Montanos’ neighbors and lived a short distance away.
Investigators interviewed Habersham and a cousin the night of the shooting. Habersham initially gave an alibi, but the people he claimed to be with at the time of the shooting did not corroborate his story to investigators.
Habersham also denied being around guns the day Montano was killed, but he declined to submit to a gunshot residue test. Authorities then obtained a warrant to conduct the test, which indicated Habersham had gunshot residue on his hands and clothes. Also, two footprints left in the field near the 9 mm shell casings were consistent with the shoes Habersham wore shortly after the shooting. A third print matched the shoes exactly.
Circuit Court Judge Bentley Price rendered the sentence.
Thornton is the leader of the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office Career Criminal Unit, which prosecutes the circuit’s most violent and habitual offenders. The team has secured convictions against 382 of the 399 defendants it has prosecuted since its formation in 2008.