Kierin Marcellus Dennis, a 24 year old Lexington County man, was found guilty of the murder of Da’von Nathaniel Capers by a Lexington County jury after a six day trial. In reaching their verdict, the jury rejected Dennis’ claim of self-defense. The Honorable Eugene Griffith sentenced Dennis to 30 years in the South Carolina Department of Corrections. Under South Carolina Law, murder is classified as a “no parole” offense.
Capers, age 17, was stabbed in the chest by Dennis in the roadway outside of the parking lot of the Cook Out restaurant in Lexington on the night of February 17, 2014. This incident took place following a basketball game between Dutch Fork High School and Lexington High School. The basketball game between the two rival schools in Lexington was a rematch from a game the schools played at Dutch Fork two weeks earlier. Dutch Fork won both games. The game at Dutch Fork was contentious, leading Lexington County officials to add additional security at the game at Lexington High School.
Following the game at Lexington, Dennis and his friends were seen exchanging taunts with a group of Dutch Fork students in the school parking lot. Dennis told several Dutch Fork students to meet him at Cook Out because he “had something for them.”
Dennis and his friends went to the Cook Out where many Dutch Fork students were celebrating. Video showed he and his friends remained in the restaurant for less than twenty minutes without incident before stepping outside to answer a phone call. While outside, video showed Dennis and his friends exchange words with a Dutch Fork student, prompting all the students in the restaurant to go outside to the parking lot. More taunts were exchanged between the parties, but there were no physical altercations.
Video also showed Dennis and his friends got into their vehicles and pulled into an adjoining parking lot, and remained there for several minutes. Dennis and his friends could be seen talking to one another. During this time, no one assaulted them or attacked their vehicles.
Upon leaving, students testified that one of Dennis’ friends threw money in the road separating Cook Out from another store, and told the Dutch Fork students “this is all y’all are worth”. As students ran into the road to collect the money, Dennis accelerated his Ford Explorer into the crowd of students, nearly hitting several of them.
Video showed a group of Dutch Fork students stood at Dennis’ window shouting at him. Students testified Dennis did not appear to be afraid, and taunted them saying, “You don’t won’t what I got.” He then nodded his head for them to step closer. As Capers stepped up, Dennis reached out the window and stabbed Capers in the chest with a knife. He then sped off. During the trial, witnesses testified Capers did not go into Dennis’ vehicle prior to the stabbing.
Capers was immediately taken by friends to the Lexington Urgent Care several blocks away from the Cook Out. He was then transported by Lexington EMS to the Lexington Medical Center where he was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival. An autopsy was conducted by forensic pathologist Dr. Janice Ross of Newberry. Dr. Ross determined Capers was stabbed at a downward angle in the heart. During the trial, Dr. Ross testified the amount of force used was equivalent to stabbing through a two-inch steak.
Dennis left the Cook Out and returned home, where he immediately washed the clothes he was wearing. He later explained to police he wanted to be sure there was no evidence on his clothing. He also buried the murder weapon in a neighbor’s yard.
Upon his arrest, he initially denied stabbing Capers and repeatedly asked the investigator to let him see the evidence they had against him. Several days later, with his attorney present, he confessed that he had stabbed Capers, but claimed it was in self-defense. Early in the interview, Dennis described reaching out of the vehicle to stab Capers and then later stated it took place inside of the vehicle. At the end of the video-taped interview, Dennis said, “I guess I thought I would get away with it. Nobody gets away with murder.”
Following the trial, Solicitor Rick Hubbard said, “This has been a long, hard, five-year wait for the Capers family. We are truly grateful for the jury’s decision and pray the Capers and all of Da’von’s friends can begin to move forward with their lives.”