Suspect changes plea to guilty

Michael Jason Maxwell

MONCKS CORNER -- A man on trial for murder in the 2007 fatal shooting of Christopher Dale Teseniar changed his plea to guilty Wednesday and was sentenced to 85 years in prison, according to the 9th Circuit Solicitor's Office.

Michael Jason Maxwell, 27, of Camelot Drive, pleaded guilty to murder and first-degree burglary in the second day of his trial in Berkeley County General Sessions Court. Circuit Judge Kristi L. Harrington sentenced Maxwell to consecutive terms of 60 years for murder and 25 years for burglary.

According to Berkeley County sheriff's deputies, Maxwell kicked in the front door of Teseniar's mobile home at Strawberry Station Mobile Home Park on Cypress Plantation Road about 4:40 a.m. Nov. 11, 2007, and shot the 20-year-old man while others were sleeping in the house.

Inmates at the Hill-Finklea Detention Center told deputies that Maxwell was bragging about the murder while he was in the jail, according to the Solicitor's Office.

Maxwell and Teseniar knew each other but weren't friends, according to investigators. Witnesses on the scene told detectives Maxwell thought Teseniar had stolen some of his property.

"This tragedy has been particularly difficult for the family in light of the gruesome circumstances surrounding the murder," said senior assistant solicitor Dorie Biagianti. "We are pleased with the result and hope that the victim's family will have some form of closure."

Lori Teseniar, stepmother of the victim, said her family had prepared for a long, drawn-out trial. They were delighted when Maxwell changed his plea and was sent to prison, she said.

"We definitely feel like justice is served. We'd like to have had the death penalty, but he has 85 years total," she said. "It doesn't bring him back, but it helps us go on from here."

The cases against three co-defendants are pending, according to court records.

Adam Todd Tarpley, 24, of 103 Derby Court in Goose Creek, was at first charged with accessory after the fact of murder.

At the time, deputies accused Tarpley of driving Maxwell to and from Teseniar's house. Several days later, Tarpley was charged with murder in the case.

Charged with accessory after the fact of murder are Jennifer M. Maxwell, 23, and Annette D. Henderson, 52, both of 5 Iona Ave., Goose Creek.

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