Augusta man sentenced to life in prison for 2001 death of teen

Steven Barnes (left) has been convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the 2001 murder of Samuel Sturrup (right).
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Friday, Oct. 13, 2017

EDGEFIELD COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) – An Augusta man has been found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison for the shooting death of a 16-year-old.

Steven Lewis Barnes, 38, was accused of the murder of Samuel Sturrup on Sept. 3, 2001. The verdict was returned earlier Friday afternoon following jury deliberations that lasted a little over an hour.

According to the S.C. Circuit Court, the sentence was imposed by a judge after a week-long trial. In addition to his new life sentence; he was sentenced to life without parole for a prior conviction for armed robbery in Georgia in 2003.

This is the second time Barnes was convicted in Sturrup’s murder, the first time being in 2010 but that case was reversed on appeal.

The court states Sturrup was abducted by Barnes and two co-defendants, Julio and Alex Hunsberger, on Cherry Street in Augusta and placed into the trunk of a vehicle. Barnes and several accomplices then traveled to a rural area near Community Road in Edgefield County during nighttime hours. After stopping in a hayfield, Barnes ordered Sturrup out of the trunk at gunpoint. He directed Sturrup to walk into a nearby wooded area where he handed a firearm to a female accomplice and told her to shoot Sturrup. The accomplice, Charlene Thatcher, is currently serving a lengthy prison sentence for her role in Sturrup’s death. Thatcher testified that Barnes then used a firearm to shoot Sturrup in the head.

Following the murder, Barnes and his accomplices returned to Augusta. According to statements and testimony from several of the accomplices, the guns used in the murder were thrown over a Savannah River bridge. Barnes then burned his clothing and destroyed all physical evidence linking him to Sturrup’s death. All co-defendants and accomplices of Barnes in the kidnapping and murder of Sturrup have previously been prosecuted.

Two months later, in November of 2001, an Edgefield County resident discovered human remains and notified the Edgefield County Sheriff’s Office. Lt. Randy Doran began the investigation in conjunction with then-investigator now Sheriff Richard Roundtree of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office. An autopsy determined that Sturrup sustained a fatal gunshot wound to the head. Evidence at the crime scene determined that multiple rounds had been fired.

Barnes had been the subject of an ongoing investigation regarding a sex trafficking ring in Augusta. He was arrested on January 17, 2002, at his residence located on the 3000 block of Cairo Court in Augusta. He was later convicted in 2003 on unrelated charges of armed robbery, two counts of kidnapping, and making terroristic threats in Georgia.

Family members of Samuel Sturrup were present for portions of the trial in Edgefield County. Sturrup was a student at Glenn Hills High School in Augusta at the time of his murder.