Lexington, SC - After a week long trial in Lexington County, sex offender William H. Heath, age 50, has received a consecutive sentence of Life plus 40 years. The trial began on Monday, May 7th and concluded late Friday afternoon when the jury returned a guilty verdict on all charges. Heath received the life sentence for criminal sexual conduct with a minor – 1st degree, which involved a child under the age of eleven. Heath was also convicted of criminal sexual conduct with a minor – 2nd degree and two counts of criminal sexual conduct – 3rd degree. The sentence was imposed by Circuit Court Judge R. Knox McMahon.
Eleventh Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard stated, "Our work to protect children in our community remains a primary focus. It requires a high level of commitment from our prosecutors, staff, and law enforcement.” Hubbard further commented, “The victim in this case demonstrated tremendous courage in the courtroom and this sentence brings a powerful measure of justice."
The Lexington County Sheriff’s Department began an investigation on the night of April 26, 2015 when they received a call for a welfare check at the residence of William Heath. Upon arrival, officers located the juvenile victim who reported that she had been sexually assaulted by Heath. The victim also disclosed previous assaults which occurred over the course of several years. The victim also described an iPad used by Heath to display sexually explicit materials during the assaults.
Detectives at the crime scene, led by Sgt. Marlo McCann, located the iPad in plain view in Heath’s bedroom and seized it as evidence. The victim was immediately referred to the Lexington Medical Center for a sexual assault examination in which evidence was collected and sent to the S.C. Law Enforcement Division (SLED) for forensic analysis.
During the trial, Brigitte de Guzman, R.N., a sexual assault nurse examiner, testified regarding the evidence collection process. SLED agents from the state crime lab also testified regarding the results of their serology and DNA analysis. SLED determined that hairs recovered during the victim’s sexual assault exam were a DNA match to Heath. Further, the SLED forensics lab identified Heath’s DNA on the victim’s clothing.
In addition to the DNA evidence, Detective Mike Phipps, a Lexington County computer crimes specialist, testified regarding the forensic extraction of Heath’s iPad. Explicit images were recovered during the extraction which were consistent with the assault timeframes described by the victim. In addition, Shauna Galloway-Williams, executive director of the Julie Valentine Child Advocacy Center in Greenville, provided expert testimony to explain why victims of child abuse may not report the crimes immediately.
At trial, the victim testified regarding the sexual assaults and multiple threats made against her by Heath. During the sentencing hearing, Judge McMahon addressed the overall impact of Heath’s crimes, “There are many children in America, but not enough ‘childhood.’ You stole her childhood ... you put her in prison for a long time.” Judge McMahon then sentenced Heath to the maximum sentence on all charges, including the life sentence.
The case was prosecuted by Deputy Solicitor Suzanne Mayes and Assistant Solicitor Kate Usry of the Eleventh Circuit Solicitor’s Office. Prosecutors Mayes and Usry stated, “We have great appreciation for the child abuse professionals who assist in these cases. The sexual assault nurse examiner’s program (SANE) and child advocacy centers are fundamental in the evaluation of child abuse cases. The SANE program has proven to be invaluable in the recovery of critical forensic evidence which allows for successful prosecution.”