Ridgeland man sentenced to 45 years for 2009 homicide

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comMay 16, 2012 

A Ridgeland man was sentenced to 45 years in prison Wednesday after being found guilty of fatally shooting another man during a fight over a pool game in 2009, according to the 14th Circuit Solicitor's Office.

A Jasper County jury found Brett Howard, 23, guilty of murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime at the conclusion of his three-day trial, the Solicitor's Office said.

Howard was arrested by the Jasper County Sheriff's Office for killing Woodrow Bentley, 54, during an argument at Missy's Place on Grove Park Lane near Ridgeland on Dec. 11, 2009.

Authorities said Howard was nearby as Brantley was shooting pool with a friend at the club, misunderstood something Brantley said and pulled out a pistol.

Howard attempted to fire the gun several times while walking toward Brantley before the weapon finally went off, striking the victim in the face, authorities said. Brantley was pronounced dead at the scene.

Several witnesses identified Howard as the shooter, and he turned himself in the next day, according to the Solicitor's Office.

Circuit Court Judge Perry Buckner handed down the sentence after the jury rendered its verdict Wednesday.

Deputy Solicitor Sean Thornton, who prosecuted the case, said Howard received the punishment he deserved.

"This was a completely senseless, cold-blooded killing," Thornton said in a prepared statement. "A man's life was taken just because of something Howard thought he heard, and for that, two families will never be the same."

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