Jul. 9—An Edgefield County man was sentenced to life in prison following a domestic violence murder.
Michael Tirrell Means, 39, was convicted of murder and possession of a weapon during commission of a violent crime in the shooting death of his wife, Yumonica Pate Means, in Edgefield County, according to a report from the Eleventh Circuit Solicitor's Office.
Circuit Court Judge Debra R. McCaslin imposed the life sentence following a jury trial last week. Under South Carolina law, Means is not eligible for parole, according to the report.
Eleventh Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard said "this was a brutal and calculated crime. We are thankful for the outcome and continue our efforts to aggressively prosecute crimes of violence."
On July 3, 2019, the Edgefield County 911 Center received a call from a 10-year-old child seeking assistance.
When patrol officers arrived, they discovered the body of Yumonica Means, 46, in the roadway of a secluded area near a peach orchard at the intersection of Highway 191 and Yonce Pond Road near Johnston, according to the report.
The late Jimmy Smith investigated the case.
"Evidence obtained during the investigation determined that Tirrell Means lured his wife, Yumonica, from her home in Aiken County to the Highway 191 location in Edgefield County under the ruse that he had been involved in a car accident. Means sent text messages to his wife's phone, beginning at 11:38 p.m., claiming that he needed her to meet him at the location. Ultimately, it was determined that Means had not been involved in an accident.
"According to testimony, he confronted his wife when she arrived regarding an ongoing marital dispute. Means then shot his wife while she was outside of her vehicle. The victim's two young children were present at the scene when the crime occurred," according to the report.
An autopsy determined that Yumonica Means had sustained a gunshot wound to the head and died immediately.
Means purchased the gun in Georgia through a private transaction without a background check, approximately two days before using the firearm to kill his wife. Means was prohibited from purchasing a firearm due to his prior record and was on probation due to a recent conviction for receiving stolen goods, according to the report.
Following the murder, Means fled the scene and traveled to Georgia where he abandoned the vehicle. He later turned himself in to law enforcement officers and confessed to shooting his wife in an audio-recorded statement.
During the state's closing argument, Deputy Solicitor Suzanne Mayes asked the jury to consider extensive evidence of "malice aforethought" carried out by Means, including that he lured the victim to a dark, secluded location under false pretenses and emptied her bank account just prior to the crime, according to the report.
"Her fate was sealed before she even arrived," Mayes stated. "There could be no greater evidence of malice."
Family members of the victim addressed the court during sentencing. Yumonica is survived by three children.
Judge McCaslin termed the crime "absolutely horrific" before handing down the sentence of life imprisonment, according to the report.
Following sentencing, Mayes said "we are grateful for the work of Investigator Jimmy Smith, the Edgefield County Sheriff's Office and SLED during this investigation. We recognize the magnitude of this tragedy and are relieved to see this measure of justice for Yumonica's family."
Means has been transported to the S.C. Department of Corrections to begin immediate service of the life sentence.