A Greenwood man was sentenced to 30 months in prison Thursday at the Greenwood County courthouse after pleading guilty to a charge of criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature.
Ricky Lee Givens, 39, entered his plea before Circuit Judge Thomas L. Hughston Jr. Hughston sentenced to Givens to 10 years in prison, then suspended the sentence to 30 months in prison and five years of probation in connection with a 2013 incident in which Givens assaulted his girlfriend and her 16-year-old son. Givens was also charged with third degree assault and battery and pointing and presenting a firearm at a person. Those charges were dropped. Prosecutors offered no plea agreement in the case. Givens, who was represented by Townes Jones, pleaded straight up to the charges, putting himself on the mercy of the court.
The incident occurred in July 2013. Deputies were dispatched to 2606 Old Hwy. 246 S. lot 10. When deputies arrived, the victim told them that Givens had pulled a gun on her and assaulted her son earlier in the morning. The victim told deputies that Givens had come home drunk on Saturday night and started arguing with her while throwing things around the house. The victim told deputies that her 16-year-old son told Givens to calm down and acted like he was going to hit him before the victim got in between them. At that point, the victim said, Givens made them both sit on the couch while he yelled and cursed at them.
The victim’s son went to bed at some point, but Givens continued to pace the house throughout the night. The victim said that Givens took her phone and car keys and would not let her leave. The victim said she was awakened on Sunday morning by the sound of Givens yelling and cursing again. The victim told Givens that she and her son were leaving. The victim said that Givens then produced a handgun, put in a clip and told her that he would kill her and her son if she tried to leave. The victim said that Givens told her he would kill everyone if she called 911, including the police. The victim was able to get to a phone and call her sister. The victim’s sister came to the house and took the victim and her son back to her house. Givens left the house in the victim’s car. Deputies found him at the house later in the day.
Elizabeth White handled the case for the state. White asked Hughston for a maximum sentence of 10 years in the case. According to court records, Givens has a history of violence. In 1989, Givens was charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. He later pleaded guilty to simple assault and was given a $200 fine. In 1994, Givens pleaded guilty to assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. Hughston presided over that guilty plea and sentenced Givens to two years in prison, suspended to one year of probation. In 1995, Givens was charged with assault and battery with intent to kill. He later pleaded guilty to assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, suspended to 13 months in prison, six months of home detention and five years of probation. In 1999, Givens had a CDV charge dropped. In 2001, in another case before Hughston, Givens pleaded guilty to CDV and was sentenced to one year in prison, suspended to one year of probation.
Greenwood County leads South Carolina in the number of women killed at the hands of men in domestic violence incidents. South Carolina leads the nation in the same category. There have been a number of high profile domestic violence incidents in Greenwood County in recently, including the tragedy in Callison which left six people dead.
Alice Hodges, executive director of Meg’s House Shelter for Abused Women and Children, said the sentence sent a clear message to those who would commit acts of violence against women.
“This sentence tells these predators that this type of behavior is acceptable,” Hodges said. “We have a huge domestic violence problem in Greenwood County and sentences like these do nothing to help us stop this type of violence from happening.”
Hodges and a group of concerned citizens hosted an event entitled “No More Lies and Bruises” last month at sundance galleries in Uptown Greenwood. The event, a fundraiser for Meg’s House, was well attended and significantly raised awareness about domestic violence in Greenwood County. The event was organized after local songwriter penned a song by the same name as the event after the tragedy in Callison and another murder-suicide a week later. Those incidents also triggered the formation of a community-wide task force across the Eighth Judicial Circuit, which is comprised of Greenwood, Abbeville, Laurens and Newberry counties. The formation of the task force, which includes prosecutors, law enforcement agencies and social service organizations, was announced last December by Eighth Circuit Solicitor David Stumbo.
Stumbo credited White for Givens being to forced throw himself on the mercy of the court.
“Elizabeth (White) did a great job preparing the case and sticking to her guns,” Stumbo said. “For our office, this is a best-case scenario. The defendant showed up and threw himself on the mercy of the court. We made him no offer for a plea agreement or for sentencing. It’s always a good day when we can get a violent person off the streets of our community.”