A Beaufort County jury found 65-year-old Isaiah Gadson guilty on all counts Thursday afternoon in the 1980 murder of 18-year-old David Krulewicz of Coosaw Island and in the rape, kidnapping and armed robbery of Krulewicz's then-15-year-old girlfriend of Burton.
“For 36 years, Isaiah Gadson thought he got away with it,” Hunter Swanson, a prosecutor with the 14th Circuit Solicitor's Office, told the jury in her closing arguments Thursday morning.
The families, she said, have lived 38 years waiting for this justice.
Gadson, a longtime Burton resident, was linked to the crime by DNA found on the victim's clothing.
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The jury came to its decision after more than three hours of deliberation and after asking to hear the entirety of the rape victim's testimony from Tuesday once again.
Judge Brooks Goldsmith sentenced Gadson to 50 years in prison for the murder of Krulewicz, and to three 30-year sentences to be served concurrently in the rape, kidnapping and robbery of Krulewicz's girlfriend.
Gadson has been jailed at the Beaufort County Detention Center since his arrest in August 2016 and will be credited for time served in all four sentences.
Before he was sentenced, though, Gadson's sister asked the judge for leniency.
"All my kids love him to death," she said. "I don’t know whether he did it, but I’m asking for mercy."
Gadson's niece, Yolanda Yvette Young, also spoke in favor of lighter sentencing.
"I believe in positive things that have come from my uncle," she told the judge.
Gadson's rape victim, now in her 50s, addressed the judge through tears.
"(David) has never been able to live a life," she said. "Me and David's family, we have worried for 38 years. I have lived in fear all these years."
A third victim came forward to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office on Thursday morning to say that she, too, had been sexually assaulted by Gadson in the late 1970s, Swanson told the judge after the verdict was read.
"Mr. Gadson is a serial rapist," she said.
The case, one of the oldest in the county, was reopened by the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office in 1999, shortly after Sheriff P.J. Tanner was elected to his first term and established a cold case team, led by Capt. Bob Bromage.
In 2003, a DNA profile of the unknown assailant was developed using semen from the teenager's pants and underwear; 13 years later that DNA profile turned up as a match to Gadson.
Krulewicz was shot to death through the window of his van just before midnight Jan. 5, 1980, off Old Salem Road in Burton, an area referred to as "Lovers' Lane," where couples were known to frequent. Gadson held Krulewicz's teenage girlfriend at gunpoint, forced her to perform oral sex on him, raped her and took $50 in cash from her.
Afterward, he told the victim, "I’m sorry (for) what I did to your friend. I had to kill him to get to you."
A second victim, who traveled to Beaufort from out-of-state to testify in the trial, told the jury Wednesday she was similarly raped by Gadson in 1983. He pleaded no contest to assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature that same year.
"I expected him not to leave me alive but he did," she said.
On Aug. 10, 2016, Gadson was charged with murder, first-degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping and armed robbery in the 1980 cold case.
Two months earlier, Gadson had been charged with attempted murder by the Beaufort Police Department. Police say he shot an acquaintance in the neck during an argument in the parking lot of the Exxon gas station at the corner of Boundary and Hogarth streets in Beaufort.
A DNA sample was taken from Gadson at that time and entered into a national database, where it matched with the 1980 crimes.