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Accomplice gets 20 years in Sumter grocery store owner's murder

Hagood pleaded guilty to lesser voluntary manslaughter charge, showed remorse

BY KAYLA ROBINS
kayla@theitem.com
Posted 7/21/19

The Sumterite who pleaded guilty in the 2017 murder of a store owner in South Sumter will spend the next 20 years in prison.

Larenzo Hagood, 21, was sentenced Friday afternoon by active/retired Eighth Circuit Court Judge Thomas L. Hughston Jr. …

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Accomplice gets 20 years in Sumter grocery store owner's murder

Hagood pleaded guilty to lesser voluntary manslaughter charge, showed remorse

Posted

The Sumterite who pleaded guilty in the 2017 murder of a store owner in South Sumter will spend the next 20 years in prison.

Larenzo Hagood, 21, was sentenced Friday afternoon by active/retired Eighth Circuit Court Judge Thomas L. Hughston Jr. and will concurrently serve 20 years each for a conviction of attempted armed robbery and voluntary manslaughter, five years each for two counts of kidnapping and five years for possession of a weapon during a violent crime. Concurrent sentences are served at the same time, making the total 20 years. He will receive credit for time already served in connection to the case.

Hagood was initially charged with murder but accepted the voluntary manslaughter conviction, a lesser charge, in exchange for pleading guilty.

Hughston gave the sentence Third Circuit Court Solicitor Ernest A. "Chip" Finney III asked for, which Hagood's public defender, Jack Barnes, also said he accepted.

"He's a good kid that made a terrible mistake," Barnes said in courtroom 3A of the Sumter County Judicial Center on Friday.

Both Barnes and Finney told the judge Hagood confessed and gave a full, cooperative statement to law enforcement "within the hour" of his arrest. He wanted the murdered man's family to know he was sorry, Barnes said.

"He has told me on multiple occasions this is not how he saw his life turning out," Barnes said.

On Nov. 24, 2017, Hagood and Sincere Dinkins, also of Sumter, entered the Save-Mart Grocery and attempted to rob the store's owner, Vijaykumar Patel, at gunpoint. They ordered two female customers who were in the store at the time to the ground, warranting the kidnapping charges.

A condition of his plea deal was that Hagood testify in Dinkins' trial. His testimony and evidence presented during the trial, which started with jury selection on Monday and ended with guilty verdicts on Wednesday for six out of six charges, the same as Hagood but with the full murder charge and a count of criminal conspiracy, revealed Dinkins shot at Patel until his weapon emptied.

"It's a tremendous loss to the community," Finney said of Patel's death. Many former customers - the store has remained shuttered since the shooting - have no form of transportation to food sources other than to walk, and there are a limited number of grocery stores and restaurants in that Manning Avenue area.

He said there was an "outpouring of concern from both the family and the community" that provided the Sumter Police Department with information that helped lead to an arrest.

Dinkins' sentencing on Thursday was postponed to next month. Finney said a 2015 law now requires sentencing proceedings for those convicted of crimes when they were 17 years or younger to include a hearing that brings in people from the person's school, home and work life to give a "full picture of who he or she is." Hughston will review all documents and circumstances from the case and the sentencing hearing before making a decision.

Finney said he asked that Hagood's sentence be only 20 years because of his cooperation, prompt confession, remorse and pledge to continue his education in prison. He already has a GED and has told both his attorney and Finney he wants to learn a trade and "come back a better citizen."

"This is a tragedy," Judge Hughston told Hagood before announcing his sentence, "but not one you can't come back from."