A woman who shot and killed her father at their Mount Pleasant home on the day she was to be evicted nearly two years ago was sentenced Monday to 18 years in prison.
Brittany Simpson, 33, was charged with murder but accepted a negotiated plea to the lesser crime of voluntary manslaughter — a slaying in the heat of passion — in the death of 66-year-old Robert Simpson.
Simpson entered an “Alford plea,” which allowed her to maintain her innocence while acknowledging that a jury could have convicted her at trial.
Relatives and their supporters attended Monday’s hearing but did not speak in court. A brother and cousin of Rob Simpson, a London native who worked as a chauffeur for film crews, listened to the hearing by phone from England.
Police reports in the years leading up to the deadly shooting in the affluent I’On neighborhood suggested the family had faced an escalating struggle with Brittany Simpson’s mental illness. She had bipolar disorder, police said, and her manic episodes had prompted at least three emergency commitments.
Simpson had no prior criminal record.
Then on May 9, 2017, investigators said she fetched a 9 mm Smith & Wesson that a relative kept legally in a bedroom at the family’s waterfront home on 38 Saturday Road. Simpson had fired the gun in the past, 9th Circuit Assistant Solicitor Jennifer Shealy said in court Monday.
Simpson shot her father once in the chest outside the master bedroom on the first floor before 6 a.m.
She then ran to a dock behind the home and dropped a backpack holding her clothes and the handgun into Hobcaw Creek. Police divers would later find the items anchored by a 3-pound pink weight.
Jolted awake by the sound of gunfire, Simpson's mother, her sister and her sister's boyfriend ran downstairs. They found blood in the hallway outside the master bedroom. Rob Simpson was lying in the room. He had apparently locked the door as he retreated, Shealy said.
Brittany Simpson walked into the home after the shooting. She could be heard saying in her sister’s call to 911 that a possible intruder had just run away. She said she’d been swimming that morning at the I’On Club and returned home to find the back door open.
Simpson later acknowledged in a police interview that she shot her father and threw the gun and other items in the creek, Shealy said.
Simpson had just been given an eviction notice and was supposed to leave her parents’ home that day. She had been staying there without paying rent, and her mother, Susan, had recently sought her eviction after Simpson stopped pitching in for utilities.
Clad in a striped jail clothes and flanked by her attorneys, Simpson turned and looked at her family several times Monday before Circuit Judge Markley Dennis handed down her sentence.
David Aylor, one of Simpson’s attorneys, said the Simpson family can start to heal. He said loved ones supported Simpson’s plea deal, which allowed them to avoid an emotionally taxing trial.
“This is a tragedy that occurred, and there really is no one that actually wins in the end,” Aylor said after the hearing.
With credit for nearly two years already served in jail and rules that require her to serve 85 percent of her sentence, Simpson will likely spend just over 13 years behind bars. She will spend seven years on probation and community supervision following her release.
As part of her probation, she will be required to receive a mental health evaluation and seek any necessary treatment.