An Aiken County jury on Thursday found David Rosier Jr. guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the November 2012 shooting death of 20-year-old Donnie Davis.
The verdict came late on Thursday afternoon. Rosier, 45, who was originally charged with murder, was also found guilty of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. He was sentenced by Circuit Court Judge Doyet “Jack” Early to the maximum 30 years in prison.
Assistant Solicitor Kevin Molony, who prosecuted the case along with Assistant Solicitor David Miller, said the jury was given the option of finding Rosier guilty on the lesser charge of manslaughter.
“Malice and forethought are the main difference,” Molony said. “It's murder without malice, meaning heat of the passion. It was an intentional act, but ... you didn't have the hatred, the evil in your heart.”
Davis died in a home at 56 Church St. in Bath on Nov. 10, 2012, from a gunshot wound to the chest. A pathologist testified he also suffered multiple cuts on his face and defensive wounds on his hand from a physical altercation before.
Earlier on Thursday, Rosier took the stand in his own defense, telling the jury he only went to the home on Church Street that night to make sure his son Josh, who had bonded out of jail earlier that day for other charges, didn't get into more trouble.
“I about had them talked out of going,” David Rosier said, adding that he, his son and several other people in the car that night circled the home once before deciding to stop and enter it.
David Rosier said there were never any plans to fight or rob the people inside the home that night, and that Josh Rosier wanted to go over there after having a conversation with his girlfriend, Brittney Cook. Josh Rosier was going to confront Russell Blackmon, who lived at the home.
Rosier's testimony conflicted from that of his son, who told the court on Wednesday that his father gave him a knife on the way to the home – the same knife his son used to cut Davis repeatedly before he was shot.
Rosier said he stood near the entrance of the home as his son entered and confronted Davis, who was on the couch in the living room. Josh Rosier threw the first punch, and the two began fighting. While that was going on, Russell Blackmon retrieved a .357 revolver, which he reportedly pointed at Josh Rosier, then David Rosier.
Rosier said he felt his life was in danger, and when Blackmon turned to look at the conflict between Davis and the younger Rosier, he struck Blackmon. Rosier said the gun went off while he and Blackmon were struggling with it, with the gunshot hitting Davis in the chest.
Rosier told the court about how they left the scene and went to a home in Augusta belonging to a family member of the girl who was driving the vehicle that night, and how he sold the revolver to a man while at the home.
“I didn't have any idea the young man (Davis) was shot,” he said. “I was still in a state of, 'How in the world did this happen?'”
Rosier maintained that he'd never met Davis until the night of the shooting. When asked by public defender Wallis Alves if he felt betrayed by his son, Rosier said no.
“He knew I didn't want him to get in any trouble,” he said. “It never was supposed to be about the young man sitting on the couch.”
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012. He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.