SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Authorities said it was the end of a crime spree. A guilty plea to a slew of charges landed a Spartanburg man behind bars for 43 years.
7NEWS spoke to the prosecutor, and one of the victims, in a story you’ll see only on 7.
It was the start of a New Year, 2020, and the Donnette Bar and Grill in Spartanburg was about to close. An employee was counting money, while the owner, Keith Comer, sat at the bar.
Troy Braxton walked in and after about an hour, Solicitor for the 7th District, Barry Barnette, said he made his move.
“I’m like what’s going on, I’m looking up and he points a gun at my head and says you know what time it is,” said Keith Comer.
It was an armed robbery.
In video provided to 7NEWS by the 7th Circuit Solicitor’s Office you can see Braxton pointing a gun at the female employee, taking her purse, the bar’s money and their cellphones.
“I had a weapon on me also, and I kinda just didn’t know what to do. He had the gun on her, I was afraid to do anything out of fear for her getting shot, or him shooting everybody,” said Comer. “I just kinda sat there until he got out the door. Then, I was mad.”
After robbing the bar and grill, Braxton ran to his Blue Crown Victoria, and Comer went after him.
“I just started his shooting his car,” he said.
Braxton’s crime spree didn’t stop there. On January 10th, 2020, the solicitor’s office said Braxton was involved in the murder of Juan Booker, at the Promenade Apartments.
Days went by and through video footage from nearby businesses investigators with the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office were able to identify the car involved.
Over a week later Barnette said they got lucky.
“They’re actually on patrol and see the White Honda here, and then they check the license plate,” he said.
They said that tag was registered to the Crown Victoria used in the armed robbery.
“He runs. He ran about 5 miles through, all through the South Side of Spartanburg, the City of Spartanburg,” said Barnette.
The Solicitor’s Office said Braxton jumped from the car and ran into the woods. Barnette said Braxton tossed a big backpack while on the run.
“He had this bag when he was running from the police, and this was inside of it,” said Barnette. “Ultimately, this is the reason I think he pled, was this.”
Inside the bag investigators found the bag they say was used in the armed robbery.
Barnette said investigators were able to use the bags, the license plate from the Honda matching the car at the armed robbery and the bullets inside the Blue Crown Vic matching Comer’s gun to link Braxton to the Donnette robbery.
Investigators said from the phone confiscated at the police chase; they were able to use the records to connect Braxton to the murder case.
Deputies said during interrogation, Braxton admitted to the armed robberies and being at the murder scene.
“That’s the goal to take people like that off the street. They’re a danger to everybody,” said Barnette.
Three years later, he pled guilty in court.
- Voluntary Manslaughter
- Five counts of Armed Robbery
- Two counts of Possession of a Weapon During Commissio of a Violent Crime
- Assault and Batter of a High and Aggravated Nature
- Failure to Stop for Blue Light
- Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana
Barnette said while incarcerated, Braxton picked up another charge for being part of an attack at the Spartanburg County Detention Center.
Years later, his victims can feel justice has been served.
“I knew his time was going to come and it finally did. He got what he deserved,” said Comer.
Comer’s business is still shut down, but Braxton’s victims can feel safe because he will be serving at least 36 years before he is eligible for parole.
Barnette said Braxton also has a criminal history in Florida for Common Law Robbery and Burglary in 2012.
Barnette said he is thankful for the long sentence and that he couldn’t do it without: Investigators Megan Bennett and Chris Jenkins; Master Deputys Matt Smith and Trevor Shue and the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office.