Spartanburg County 7th Circuit Solicitor Trey Gowdy is seeking the death penalty for a suspect in the killing of an eight year old girl at a Chesnee home Wednesday. 50 year old Ricky Lee Blackwell was served the notice in the hospital where he is recovering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the stomach. Investigators says Blackwell put eight year old Heather Brooke Center in a headlock then shot her in the head and fired three more shots into her as she fell. Blackwell then shot himself in the stomach. The girl was the daughter of Blackwell’s estranged wife’s boyfriend. Gowdy labled the girl’s killing an execution.
“Frankly, the paradigm that I use is the circumstances of the crime, the character of the defendant, and the impact the victim’s death has on the community. All of that fits under the rubric of does it shock the community and I can tell you it shocked the conscience of the solicitor, the sheriff, the coroner and everyone else i’ve talked to.”
Gowdy served the notice to Blackwell approximately 24 hours after the fatal shooting of the eight year old girl. “Was it quick? I don’t know. I ‘ll leave that to others to judge. It was a very easy decision for me to make. If you are going to execute a child, then you are going to stand trial for society’s ultimate punishment, and there really isn’t a lot of thought process that really needs to go into that.”
Gowdy says in his experience it does take some time to bring a death penalty case to trial and in this particular instance the recovery time of the suspect does carry some consideration, but the more important aspect usually is the time it takes the attorneys for the defense to prepare their case.
“It’s usually not prosecutors that need more time. Our case is relatively straight forward. We’ll be ready by this fall, but it want be tried this fall. I would hope we can get it tried next summer or next fall. I can just tell you this, I’m going to be there when it’s tried.”