Aaron Sincere Hood, age 20, was convicted last week Thursday, September 14, 2023, by a Saluda County jury for the Murder of Xavier Cancer, age 29. Chief Administrative Judge Walton J. McLeod, IV, presided over the trial and sentenced Hood to thirty-four (34) years in the South Carolina Department of Corrections for the murder. Hood will not be eligible for parole and will serve this sentence day-for-day. Hood was also convicted of Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature for assaulting a second individual and received a concurrent twenty (20) year sentence.
On March 16, 2021, Hood shot and killed Xavier Cancer on Keisha Avenue in the town of Saluda following a verbal altercation. On the day of the shooting, Hood and the surviving victim went back and forth on social media regarding inappropriate messages Hood had sent. Eventually, Hood sent a message saying he was in the area. The surviving victim responded that he would fight it out, but he was not going to if guns were involved. A short time later Hood showed up at the surviving victim’s house. While outside, Hood presented his gun and threatened to shoot the surviving victim and his friends. Xavier happened to arrive right after this happened to hang out and Hood turned his attention to Xavier. Ultimately, Xavier agreed to fight as long as guns were not involved. Witness testimony revealed that Hood handed his gun off to his codefendant prior to the start of the fight as they walked down the road to fight.
During the trial, testimony revealed that approximately ten seconds into the physical fight, Hood asked his codefendant for the gun. The testimony at trial was that the surviving victim then tried to stop the codefendant from handing off the gun. Ultimately, Hood ended up with the gun and shot Xavier. Hood then pistol whipped the surviving victim over the head before running off.
The forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy on Xavier testified during the trial that the gunshot wound to the chest was consistent with the gun being greater than three feet away from Xavier and the shot came across his chest from the left ultimately traveling at a downward angle. When asked if the gunshot was consistent with Xavier turning away and crouching down to avoid the gunshot, the forensic pathologist confirmed that the bullet path she was able to identify was consistent with that happening.
Following the shooting, the testimony revealed that Hood and his codefendant took off running through the woods. Hood threw a jacket he was wearing in the woods and it was later recovered by law enforcement. The jacket was sent to SLED Forensic Services Laboratory for DNA analysis and DNA attributed with both Hood and Xavier were located on the jacket.
Law enforcement was able to apprehend Hood in a vehicle heading toward Newberry County approximately fifteen minutes after the shooting because a concerned citizen spotted Hood running from the woods and jumping in the vehicle at the Country Peddler. Hood’s clothing was collected for gunshot residue analysis and his hands were tested as well. SLED Forensic Services Lab trace evidence department was able to locate gunshot residue on an item of clothing belonging to Hood and on Hood’s hands.
During the sentencing, Xavier’s parents addressed the Court sharing their sadness over the loss of their son in this senseless killing. Xavier’s mother shared with the Court that Xavier’s young son, her grandson, had recently played in a football game and scored multiple touchdowns. Despite the victory, he cried at the field after the game as he mourned the loss of his father.
Senior Assistant Solicitor Robby McNair, Assistant Solicitor Doug Fender, and Senior Assistant Solicitor Sutania A. Fuller handled the prosecution of this case. The investigation was conducted by the Saluda County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from the Town of Saluda Police Department, and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED).
Hood was transported to the South Carolina Department of Corrections this morning to begin serving his prison sentence.