North Charleston man gets 40 years for murder over a thrown beer

Vaughn Hilliard

A 57-year-old North Charleston man was sentenced to 40 years in prison this week for fatally shooting a man after an argument over a thrown beer.

A Charleston County jury found Vaughn Hilliard guilty of murder for killing 46-year-old Troy Cason, according to the 9th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.

Cason’s girlfriend told police that on Sept. 7, 2013, the couple went to a home on Grayson Street so she could meet some of his friends. Outside the apartment building, the couple were speaking to two other people, one of whom threw a beer on the ground.

Hilliard came around the corner of a trailer and began arguing with Cason because “he thought the victim threw beer,” the incident report said.

Cason then pushed Hilliard to the ground, according to the report. Hilliard stood up, went inside the trailer, and reappeared with a .22-caliber, scoped rifle.

Hilliard fired a shot at Cason, striking him in the torso, according to the report. He shot Cason through a fence topped with barbed wire.

Cason ran down the road, where his girlfriend picked him up in her vehicle and drove him to a hospital, police said.

Cason died of his wound two days later.

According to Assistant Solicitors Culver Kidd and Richard Waring, who prosecuted the case, the fatal argument was over something trivial: the pouring of beer.

“Hilliard admitted to the shooting at trial but claimed self-defense,” Kidd said. “Our verdict shows the jury did not buy the defendant’s version of events. Obviously, shooting an unarmed man from behind a fence is not worthy of protection under the Castle Doctrine or any theory of self-defense.”

The jury returned its verdict Wednesday, after a two-day trial. Judge Kristi Harrington sentenced Hilliard to 40 years in prison.