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Sabrina Strickland

Strickland

A Holly Hill woman accused of murdering her boyfriend will be released from jail as soon as she posts a surety bond of $100,000.

Sabrina Michelle Strickland, 50, is facing one charge each of murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime in the shooting death of 46-year-old Robert Haskell McWaters on June 28. McWaters and Strickland lived at the same residence at 773 Target Road.

Strickland has been has been held at the Orangeburg County Detention Center since June 28.

She stood before Circuit Judge Howard King for a bond hearing on Wednesday. She was represented by attorney Jack Swerling.

Deputy Solicitor Tommy Scott told the court that law enforcement became involved in the incident after Strickland called her ex-husband, Joseph “Henry” Daugherty, around 9:30 p.m. on June 28 to tell him she had hurt her boyfriend.

“Mr. Daugherty said, ‘Why didn’t you call 911? You need to call 911,’” Scott said.

“She said something to the effect of she tried to call but didn’t get an answer,” Scott added.

Daugherty called Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office dispatch and notified them of the incident.

“Autopsy revealed that he suffered a gunshot wound to his right temple. Bullet path was right to left, front to back and slightly downward,” Scott said.

Scott said that Strickland changed her story several times during questioning.

He alleged Strickland first told deputies that it was an accident and then she later told them that McWaters charged her.

Later that night, she told an investigator that she went into her son’s bedroom and retrieved the gun because McWaters told her she didn’t know anything about guns, Scott said.

“She said she was kind of holding the gun, showing the victim that she knew how to use the gun and it was at that point that the gun discharged,” Scott said.

Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office Inv. Andy Hayes told the court that the firearm had two safeties that had to be depressed before firing.

One of McWaters’ children, Jesse McWaters, told the court her father was a loving person.

“He would do anything for anyone in need. He had a way of uplifting a room and giving anything he could to help those people he encountered,” she said.

She said her father needed to “continue living life the way he wanted.”

“A life where he could watch my little sister walk across the stage and receive her high school diploma. A life where he could one day walk my sister and I down the aisle on our weddings. A life where, one day, he could enjoy his future grandchildren. But he was robbed of all of that because of this senseless, terrible, human being who thought this was the correct way to end their disappointment of a relationship,” she said.

She described Strickland as a “manipulative person who cannot be trusted.”

“If released on bond, I will truly fear for my siblings and family as well as my own. I will actually be terrified,” she said.

She alleged Strickland screamed at her face on two “unprompted or unsolicited” occasions.

Swerling described Strickland and McWaters’ relationship as volatile but “mostly on his part.”

“She did totally financially support him and I don’t know when the last time was that he worked,” Swerling said.

“He would push her, shove her, throw her down, things of that nature. She has a herniated disk after she was pushed into a bathtub. She was treated for that,” Swerling said.

King interrupted, “If she had her own money and she was supporting him ... she could’ve just picked up and left.”

Swerling said she “felt an obligation to stay.”

“He carried a gun on him at all times,” Swerling said. Authorities confirmed that they weren’t able to find any other firearms in the home.

“He never had a gun,” interjected McWaters’ brother, who was seated with several family members.

“He never carried a gun,” he said. “They’re doing nothing but lying.”

Two deputies escorted him out of the courtroom.

King called for order in the court and warned everyone in attendance that if they felt they could not contain their emotion that they needed to leave the courtroom as he didn’t want to hold anyone in contempt, he said.

Swerling continued.

“She had no intention of shooting him,” he said.

Swerling also stated, “I am told by family, her ex-husband and her that he was totally dependent on her for financial support. He did not work. She paid all of his bills, she paid the rent. She paid for the food, she paid for his transportation. She drove him back and forth every day. She’d drop him off at his brother’s house and then picked him up after work.”

“I’m told he isolated her,” Swerling added, noting that he allegedly wouldn’t let her have friends and wouldn’t let her see her children.

Daugherty told the court that he was married to Strickland for nearly 20 years.

“She was never violent towards me,” he said, noting that they had disagreements from time to time.

Swerling alleged that Strickland applied for restraining orders on McWaters on two separate occasions, but noted he had not investigated that claim.

According to the Orangeburg County Magistrate's Office, neither McWaters nor Strickland had restraining orders at any time.

Strickland does not have a criminal record. Scott also noted that McWaters had no history of violence on his record.

King set Strickland’s bond at $100,000 surety with specific restrictions.

She is required to wear a GPS monitor, must reside in Lexington with her ex-husband, make no direct/indirect contact with McWaters’ family or go within 10 miles of his family.

He is allowing her to go to work and medical/dental appointments.

He also restricted McWaters’ family from directly/indirectly contacting Strickland’s family.

“They are to stay apart from each other until this whole matter is resolved,” King said.

Scott raised a concern about one of McWaters’ non-blood related family members working at the same business as Strickland.

King amended the conditions of her bond to state that Strickland is not allowed to have any direct/indirect contact with any of McWaters’ blood relatives.

Scott said that the non-blood relative doesn’t want to have any contact with Strickland.

King said, “If she doesn’t want to have any contact with her, she’ll just have to stay away from her. I don’t know any other way to handle it. I can’t require her to quit her job. She needs to work.”

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Contact the writer: mbrown@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5545. Follow on Twitter: @MRBrownTandD

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Staff Writer

Martha Rose Brown covers crime and other topics. The South Carolina native has been a journalist for the past 17 years.

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