A South Carolina man has avoided the death penalty after pleading guilty to killing two women and raping an elderly woman in front of her 7-year-old granddaughter.
Fredrick Antonio Evins was described as “one of the most dangerous individuals we had ever dealt with” by Seventh Circuit Solicitor Barry Barnette.
Evins had already evaded the death penalty in 2004 when he was convicted for the murder and rape of Rhonda Ward and the death of Damaris Huff. He was put on death row, but his sentence was overturned during a post-conviction relief hearing.
Since then, Evins has remained in custody for a charge for which he was never tried, the rape of an 83-year-old woman in front of her grandaughter in Greenville County in 1991. The victim’s granddaughter, who chose to remain anonymous, recalled the horrific crime.
“I remember what he was wearing when he came in, what he said, how he smelled,” she told WYFF. “He (came) in, he tied us up. He was on my bed when he raped my grandmother.
“He wanted money,” she added. “I offered him my change from my piggy bank, but he wouldn’t take that. My mom had just bought a VCR, and he took it from us.”
The grandmother passed away in 1999. Before her death, her daughter, Doris Hughes, made her a promise.
“I promised her that I would find him one day,” Hughes said.
After getting the idea from TV shows about forensics, she asked a detective to retest her mother’s clothes. The DNA linked the crime to Evins, whose criminal history dates back to 1986.
Evins was never charged with the 1991 rape because he was already convicted for previous murder charges. Solicitors said they would use this case as a backup should his death sentence be overturned.
On Thursday, Evins pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal sexual conduct, first-degree burglary and two counts of kidnapping, and in two murder cases in Spartanburg County in 2002 and 2003. He was sentenced to 155 years in prison in a plea deal that came after the defense argued that he could not be sentenced to death due to an “intellectual disability.”
Although Barnette wished to get Evins the death penalty, he found solace in the fact that he will never be able to get out. After 23 years of hunting down her mother’s rapist, Hughes was relieved that she kept her promise.
“I won," she said. "I kept my promise."