Man pleads guilty in fatal shooting

Payton

SUMMERVILLE — An 18-year-old man accused of killing a woman in the King's Grant Golf Course parking lot pleaded guilty to murder Wednesday, shortly before he was to go on trial at the Dorchester County Courthouse.

Vincent C. Payton potentially faced up to life behind bars. Circuit Judge Paul Burch sentenced him to 30 years.

Payton was present at the November 2006 shooting death of Lisa Thompson, 25. Authorities don't consider him the shooter, but he was sentenced under the legal premise that the "hand of one is the hand of all" in cases with multiple defendants.

Authorities contend Payton and co-defendant Jonathan G. Coburn, 18, planned to rob Melvin Keith Bryant during a meeting in the golf course parking lot.

Their first attempt on a Saturday night did not go forward because Bryant did not show, 1st Circuit Assistant Solicitor Blair Jennings said. The second attempt came on the ensuing Sunday.

The robbery fell apart when gunfire started. Bryant was hit in the face and survived. Thompson, who was in the SUV with Bryant, was killed with a .22-caliber handgun.

Police solved the crime because workers at the course clubhouse had written down the license plate of a suspicious vehicle that had dropped the two men off, Jennings said.

Payton, of Summerville, shed tears at the courthouse in St. George as he asked for leniency.

"I'm just sorry, your honor," he said.

Burch sentenced Payton to 30 years for murder and 20 years for assault and battery with intent to kill for Bryant's wounding. The terms will run concurrently.

Coburn will be sentenced today after he pleaded guilty earlier to the same charges, Jennings said.

Thompson's mother, Gloria Johnson, said she was satisfied with the outcome.

"It doesn't bring her back, but at least it gives them time to think about what they did," she said.

A third defendant, Matthew Shane Turnmeyer of Ladson, who was 17 at the time of his arrest two years ago, drove the car on the first night but was not present for the Sunday incident, Jennings said.

He was sentenced to five years in prison, which was suspended to 2 1/2 years of probation, after pleading guilty to misprision of a felony, which covers withholding information from police.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551 or skropf@postandcourier.com.