Donsurvi Chisolm, who’s already serving one life sentence for murder, possibly saved his own life by deciding to avoid another murder trial that could have ultimately led to a death sentence.
The 32-year-old Goose Creek man pleaded guilty Tuesday to the murder of his 14-year-old nephew and accepted a negotiated sentence of life in prison. Prosecutors had been considering seeking the death penalty.
Chisolm killed Michael Chisolm in 2010 while out on bail and on electronic monitoring, waiting to go to trial for the 2007 murder of another man, prosecutors said. He has since been found guilty of that killing.
“This is hard for me and my family. It’s a loss of a child, a loss of a brother,” his brother, Dansa Chisolm, said in Charleston County Circuuit Court.
The brothers had been arguing and drinking when Chisolm shot his brother, Dansa, in the face, then his nephew in the neck on April 1, 2010, in their Goose Creek home, 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said.
Dansa survived. His son did not.
“I still love my brother,” he said in court. “I ask everyone to find the strength I have.”
Behind him in the courtroom, their sisters sobbed as they struggled with mixed emotions.
“Michael was perfect,” Ejuhavna Chisolm said. “He was respectful and was a sweetheart.”
Michael’s father said the Oakbrook Middle School eighth-grader loved to dance and wanted to be a police officer.
Donsurvi Chisolm apologized to his family during the hearing. “If I could trade my life for Michael’s I would,” he said.
His attorney, Ashley Pennington, told the judge Chisolm was in the military and served in the war in Afghanistan for six months. “When he came back, his family noticed he was more agitated, more disagreeable,” Pennington said.
A forensic psychiatrist evaluated Chisolm on Monday and found he doesn’t have the classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, but said his time in the war may have contributed to some of his aggressive behavior, according to Pennington.
Despite believing their office had enough evidence for a guilty verdict, Wilson worried it could possibly not be enough for the death penalty they were seeking, she told the judge. “There were several questions left about how the shooting happened,” Wilson said.
Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.