LAURENS, S.C. (WSPA) – The Laurens Police Department said a gang member who killed a police informant will spend 40 years behind bars.

A Detective Sergeant said the police informant was shot to death 10 years after giving information on local criminal activity.

Jarius Byrd was murdered in January 2021.

“Mr. Byrd served as a confidential informant in 2011. That led up to the events in January of ’21, and ultimately led to his death,” said Sergeant Billy Sellers.

The Laurens Police Department said Antone Blakely was convicted of that crime.

At the time of Byrd’s death, officers said he was no longer a police informant.

“He had fulfilled his obligations with the Laurens Police Department. He had served some time at the SCDC for some unrelated charges, and had recently been released about six months prior to his murder,” said Sellers.

Detective Sergeant Billy Sellers said Byrd was beaten severely in his apartment, went out to cool down, and then went back inside his apartment on Spring Street.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Blakely was inside the apartment waiting for him. There were also codefendants waiting out on the street, in front of the apartment, as well as behind the apartment lying in wait for Mr. Byrd,” he said.

The Sergeant said there are at least 9 people charged in this case.

“Mr. Antone Blakely began shooting at him, they then chased him down into the street and gunned him down,” he said.

Officers said the information Byrd gave in 2011 was not about Blakely, but about narcotics.

“It was a case that I took personally because Mr. Byrd was doing the right thing, trying to take dangerous drug dealers off the street,” said Sellers.

Blakely has never confessed to his involvement, according to Sellers.

“We were able to prove his involvement through eyewitness testimony and evidence,” he said.

Sellers said anyone who is a police informant is advised not to tell anyone.

“They are advised that this is potentially dangerous work,” stated the Sergeant. “They enter into an agreement with the police department with a full understanding of the possible negative outcomes.”

Sellers said he hopes the sentencing brings closure to Byrd’s family.

He said Blakely has been sentenced to 40 years for the murder and 5 years for having a weapon during a violent crime. He said he will serve at least 85% of his sentence.

The Laurens Police Department said Blakely has an extensive history with law enforcement and has other charges pending for violent crimes.