A North Charleston man was convicted following trial this week of killing his cousin in 2017 over unpaid debt.
Gregory Kyle Green, 38, was found guilty on one count each of murder an possessing a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, according to the 9th Circuit Solicitor's Office.
A jury deliberated for about four hours before coming back with the guilty verdicts, the Solicitor's Office said. Green was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
He was found not guilty of a related arson charge, the Solicitor's Office said.
Police and firefighters were called at 4:46 a.m. on June 8, 2017 to 2278 Bailey Drive in North Charleston for a reported house fire, the Solicitor's Office said. After putting out the blaze, they found 55-year-old Freeman Rivers in a bathtub inside the home.
"The victim had a cord wrapped around his neck and had sustained four gunshot wounds to the head," the Solicitor's Office said. "A subsequent investigation ... determined that the victim had owed Green money for drugs."
During the trial, prosecutors used testimony from a "cooperating co-defendant" who said Green called and asked to be picked up from Rivers' home, the Solicitor's Office said.
"Green came out of the victim’s house with blood on him and carrying a gun," the Solicitor's Office said. "Green and the co-defendant returned to the home and determined to set the house on fire to destroy evidence of the crime. Other witnesses testifying at the trial corroborated the co-defendant’s story and timeline."
Phone records also showed that Green and the co-defendant were in communication around the time of Rivers' murder, and that Rivers had been in communication with Green just before his death, the Solicitor's Office said.
"Subsequent to his arrest phone calls made by Green from the jail were intercepted and introduced at trial," the Solicitor's Office said. "In these calls Green attempted to hire individuals to kill the co-defendant who had implicated him in the murder."