Rapper Terrell "Sleezie Boy" McCoy's decision to defend himself against a murder charge proved to be a costly one: a jury convicted him in about three hours Friday and a judge immediately sentenced him to 50 years behind bars.
McCoy showed no emotion as the verdict was read. In the aftermath, jurors, attorneys and the trial judge spoke of a life thrown away and a potential never reached.
"What a waste of talent," a juror said after the five-day trial ended at the Charleston County Judicial Center. "It's just tragic because someone without any legal training whatsoever was able to handle himself as well as the prosecutors did."
Circuit Judge Roger Young complimented McCoy's conduct in the courtroom but repeated his reservations that it was terribly wrong for McCoy — who never finished North
Charleston High School but has a GED — to fire his attorney and run his murder defense solo.
"The mistakes I saw were mainly a matter of tactics and experience," Young told him.
On the police and evidence collection errors that McCoy, 29, focused on, Young told him "You were never able to turn that into any theory that helped you out."
Young gave McCoy 50 years without the possibility of parole, saying that no matter his courtroom skills he is still responsible for a senseless act of murder.
"The facts were not in your favor on this," Young said.
McCoy was convicted of shooting 23-year-old Antwan Bryant to death inside a home in the Russelldale section of North Charleston three years ago. He reportedly shot Bryant after being berated by his friends for firing a gun into the air outside, on the fear it would attract police. Bryant died at the scene. A witness testified McCoy was the shooter.
McCoy did not testify in his own defense or comment to the court after the verdict was read.
The trial ends by what all accounts is a courtroom oddity — and rarity — a murder defendant who fired his taxpayer-provided public defender one week ago, to run his own defense. Part of the defense he used followed the transcripts from his mistrial last summer.
Public Defender Lori Proctor, whom McCoy dismissed, sat beside him during the trial and offered some advice when she could. McCoy read the rules of judicial procedures at night, she said, inside the Charleston County jail. Before his arrest, McCoy was a rapper pushing his CD "Project Knowledge."
Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said the case came with concerns beyond getting justice for the victim and his family. Chief among them, she said, is that no blatant courtroom errors be allowed to go through which could potentially be cited as grounds for overturning the verdict on appeal.
If something major did happen, she said, the case's two prosecutors would have worked to correct it on the spot. The case was prosecuted by assistant solicitors Peter McCoy, no relation to the defendant, and Burns Wetmore.
Wetmore said the verdict means justice for the family and putting them "at ease." On "Sleezie Boy's" legal skills he said "I think certainly he's got plenty of common sense, but he just cannot find a way to properly use that."
For the jury, Wetmore said he was glad it didn't get caught up in what could have been a circus atmosphere, "and lose sight of the fact that he was a murderer."
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551, or firstname.lastname@example.org.