WALTERBORO, S.C. (December 16, 2021) – A Colleton County man has been convicted of attempted murder for shooting his former girlfriend during a domestic dispute in 2019.
William Cornelius Sanders, 60, of Round O was found guilty Thursday by a Colleton County General Sessions Court jury. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He also was convicted of possession of a weapon during commission of a violent crime. He received a five-year sentence for that offense, to be served concurrently.
“Ten days prior to this incident the defendant told the victim that he was going to bury her,” said Assistant Solicitor Ceth Utsey, who prosecuted the case. “Ten days later, he tried to do just that.”
Sanders was arrested April 15, 2019, and charged with domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature in an incident involving the same victim. In that case, Sanders is accused of pulling a gun on his girlfriend and telling her he would “bury you” after she refused to have sex with him.
Ten days later, Colleton County sheriff’s deputies Cottageville Police officers received a report of a shooting on Bodison Memorial Road. They arrived to find Sanders’ former girlfriend lying face down in the front yard with a gunshot wound to her back.
The victim’s mother, who was inside the home at the time of the incident, told officers that Sanders and the victim were outside arguing while she and three of her grandchildren were in the house. They then heard a gunshot in the front yard.
Sanders fled in a white Ford pickup but was apprehended a short time later at his father’s home, which is about a two-minute drive away. He acknowledged being at the address and talking to his ex-girlfriend. However, he told investigators the woman was the victim of a drive-by shooting and that he fled for fear for his own life.
The woman survived the shooting and told authorities Sanders shot her with a shotgun. The weapon was never recovered. However, among the 14 witnesses called by Utsey during the three-day trial was a S.C. State Law Enforcement Division analyst, who testified that gunshot residue was detected on his Sanders’ hands shortly after the shooting. A Colleton County Sheriff’s Office firearms instructor, noting the tightly grouped holes in the woman’s clothing torn by shotgun pellets, were too closely grouped to have been fired from the roadway, as Sanders claimed.
Circuit Court Judge Robert J. Bonds handed down the sentence.
Sanders’ criminal history included multiple convictions for assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.
The charge of domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature from April 15, 2019, is still pending. All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.