A man arrested in connection with a home invasion that left one person dead and another wounded was set to plead guilty to murder this afternoon but changed his mind.
James Pinckney Jr., a 28-year-old North Charleston man, stands accused in the March 2010 death of Oscar Girdon. Authorities say Girdon and his wife, who went to Marsh Oaks Apartments in Mount Pleasant to pick up a friend, Jose Contrerras, instead found Contrerras hog-tied, while three intruders were ransacking his home.
Another man, 22-year-old Adrian Beaton, shot Girdon in the leg and chest. As Girdon’s wife, Leticia Herrara, turned to run, Beaton shot her in the chest, too.
Herrara survived her injuries, but Girdon died after the attack.
Beaton pleaded guilty in January to charges of murder, kidnapping, first-degree burglary and assault and battery with intent to kill. A judge sentenced Beaton to 35 years.
The case against a third man, 33-year-old Terrell Rhodes Montgomery, remains open.
Authorities say Beaton came in through Contrerras’ apartment window that day and then opened the front door for his two accomplices. Prosecutors say the men bound Contrerras’ hands and feet with phone cords and forced him to lie face-down on his bed while they ransacked his home, demanding drugs and money.
They shocked Contrerras with a Taser, and Beaton hit him with a pistol, prosecutors said. Beaton also put a gun to the back of Contrerras’ neck and threatened him, as the two other men searched the apartment, authorities said.
Contrerras’ friends, Girdon and Herrara, came to the apartment to pick him up. When Girdon stepped inside, he saw the mess and rushed toward Contrerras’ bedroom.
Beaton began shooting before Girdon could reach his friend, officials said. The three men fled in a silver Dodge Magnum after the shooting, according to prosecutors, while officials put nearby schools on lockdown.
Reach Allyson Bird at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/allysonjbird.