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Man sentenced to six life terms in Beaufort kidnapping, rape trial

BEAUFORT -- For the duration of his four-day trial on rape, kidnapping, carjacking and armed robbery charges, Alfonzo Howard sat expressionless, his elbows on the table, never uttering a word aside from whispers to his attorney.

He maintained his steely demeanor Friday even after being found guilty on all charges and sentenced to six life sentences without parole.

After deliberating for more than two hours, a jury found Howard guilty of abducting a Tennessee couple in 2006 from a parking lot in downtown Beaufort, robbing them of $900 in cash and sexually assaulting the woman near the football stadium at Beaufort High School.

In exchange for his testimony against Howard, co-defendant Lorenzo Hicks pleaded guilty to his role in the attack earlier this week and received a reduced sentence.

The woman's husband, who has attended the trial daily, put his face in his hands and sobbed as Beaufort County Clerk of Court Elizabeth Smith read the jury's

verdict.

Judge Carmen Mullen excused the jury after the verdict was read and went straight into sentencing.

Some jurors made a point of speaking to the husband, telling him not to blame himself for what happened that night.

Mullen blamed Howard and Hicks, both of St. Helena Island.

"This was truly a senseless act," she said. "There was no need whatsoever for what happened to (the couple), particularly (the woman). You have torn these people's lives apart. You sent terror and fear throughout the Beaufort area and along the waterfront area."

Mullen then sentenced Howard to one life sentence without the possibility of parole for each of the six chargesHicks was then brought into the courtroom, where he received 20-yearsentences on kidnapping, armed

robbery, and carjacking convictions that will run concurrently.

During Hicks' sentencing hearing, the husband stood before the court and said he forgave Hicks, though he said that if he could have killed the two men that night, he would have.

"He was not the man who raped my wife. I forgive him because I feel that he was manipulated by Mr. Howard," the man said. "I wish (Hicks) well. I'll forgive Howard, too, eventually. I hope that some peace and tranquility does come to the area now that this is over."

Howard's attorney said before the jury was given the case the state had misspelled his client's name in court documents.

The state had been spelling Howard's first name "Alphonso," when it is properly spelled "Alfonzo."

Corrections were made to those documents.

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