Prosecutor says sentences ‘appropriate’ for two men in Rivenburg case

| 9/1/2010

Many truckers say they are outraged by what they consider to be “light” sentences for the two men charged as accessories in the murder of trucker Jason Rivenburg.

Calhoun County, SC, Assistant Solicitor Don Sorenson told Land Line on Wednesday, Sept. 1, that he feels the sentences are “appropriate.”

Willie Reed and Jimmy Haygood, both 21, were sentenced to 30 days in jail, 100 hours of community service and five years of probation in a South Carolina courtroom on Monday, Aug. 30. Both Reed and Haygood testified against their former friend and Rivenburg’s killer, Willie Pelzer, 22, who is now serving a life sentence without parole.

Sorenson said that without Reed and Haygood’s cooperation in the murder investigation, Pelzer might not have been convicted in the case.

“Their roles were entirely after the fact. And quite frankly, without their cooperation, we may have never convicted the man (Pelzer) who actually killed Jason Rivenburg,” he said. “I am sure that played a large role in the judge’s determination about why he thought the sentences were appropriate.”

Sorenson said Pelzer has never said why he killed Rivenburg, who was parked for the night at an abandoned gas station near St. Matthews, SC, on March 5, 2009. Pelzer took just $7 from one of his pockets.

Sorenson said that Pelzer swiped the .45-caliber gun from Haygood’s house, where he had been storing it for Reed, who had purchased it a few weeks before the murder.

He said Reed and Haygood reported the gun stolen the morning after Rivenburg was murdered and the shell casings matching the same caliber gun were found at the scene.

He added that the murder weapon was never found. Reed and Haygood admitted they were with Pelzer and saw him throw the gun in a trash bin in Charleston, SC. However, Sorenson said a few days passed before investigators learned this information, and the trash bin had already been emptied.

“Obviously just the facts of this case are sad, but when you take into account the family situation and all too, it definitely struck a nerve with a lot of people,” Sorenson said.

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer


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