South Carolina high court upholds conviction of man who murdered Jason Rivenburg

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 8/20/2015

On July 29, just a few weeks before the Department of Transportation reveals the results of a truck parking survey inspired by Jason’s Law, the South Carolina Supreme Court denied an appeal by Willie Pelzer III, the man who murdered truck driver Jason Rivenburg.

According to court documents, the S.C. Supreme Court upheld Pelzer’s conviction of murder and grand larceny. Court justices also affirmed Pelzer’s life sentence without parole.

In March 2009, Pelzer shot and killed Rivenburg while the trucker was parked in an unlit and abandoned gas station in South Carolina. After the murder, Jason’s widow, Hope Rivenburg, tirelessly pushed Congress to pass Jason’s Law, which addresses the availability of safe truck parking spaces.

Jason’s Law was eventually included in the 2012 transportation funding bill Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, or MAP-21. The law requires the U.S. DOT to conduct a national survey to determine the needs of truck parking spaces. Results are to be published publicly.

Pelzer was initially convicted and sentenced nearly six years ago. His latest rejection for an appeal by the state Supreme Court comes just shortly before Deputy Secretary of Transportation Victor Mendez announces the administration’s truck parking survey results on Friday, Aug. 21. According to FHWA, Hope Rivenburg will be there.

Since 2010, Pelzer has been in trouble in prison more than a dozen times. In-prison disciplinary actions were taken for various violations, including seven instances of drug use or possession, three attempts to possess a cell phone, one possession of a weapon, and one incident of threatening to inflict harm on a prison employee.

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