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Lexington County man convicted of killing woman gets life in prison

Lexington, SC (Paul Kirby) - Lee Anthony “Tony” Corley, 39, of Lexington County, has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Alena Marie Kennedy. Kennedy was 36 when she was killed in April of 2017. Corley was sentenced on Monday, February 3rd, by Judge Steven H. John, following a jury trial. The jury deliberated approximately one hour before returning guilty verdicts on all charges. Those included Murder, Criminal Conspiracy, and Destruction of Human Remains. Corley is not eligible for parole under South Carolina law.

Alena Kennedy of Lexington County was reported missing by her mother, Jeniece Kennedy, on May 25th, 2017. Her mother became concerned after being unable to reach her daughter by phone. Alena also missed an important family function which was out of character for her. The Lexington County Sheriff’s Department issued a media bulletin that was published across the Midlands region seeking information regarding Alena’s disappearance.

On June 15, 2017, Sgt. Mike Gooding and Det. Sam Smith of the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department received a tip regarding the involvement of Tony Corley in Alena’s disappearance. The following day, on June 16, 2017, Alena’s remains were recovered on a dirt road near Old Two Notch Road in Lexington County. Her remains had been burned, encased in cement, and discarded in a trash can. Agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (S.L.E.D.) assisted the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department in processing the scene.

Detectives with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department located Corley on June 21, 2017 and interviewed him. Corley maintained that Alena was alive and that she had moved to Florida. Corley did admit that Alena had been staying at his house during the month of April but denied knowing she was a victim of foul play.

Law enforcement officers continued to work the case. They gathered numerous leads and took witnesses’ statements. These all pointed to Corley’s involvement in Alena’s disappearance and murder. On June 23, 2017, Corley was arrested for Murder. Harriet “Haley” Coleman, a girlfriend of Corley, was also arrested at the time. Eventually, Coleman admitted to law enforcement that she had assisted Corley after the murder in the destruction and burning of Alena’s body.

Through their investigations, detectives determined that Corley and Coleman moved Alena’s body from Corley’s residence at McDonald Avenue in South Congaree to another residence located on Cecil Lane in the Red Bank area. There, Corley burned Alena’s body in the yard. Afterwards, Corley transferred the burned remains of Alena Kennedy into a trash can where it was covered in approximately 200 pounds of cement. Ultimately, the trash can containing Alena’s remains was discarded in a secluded, wooded area off Old Two Notch Road. It remained there until June 16th when it was discovered by a passerby.

During the weeklong trial, witnesses testified from the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, S.L.E.D., and civilian witnesses who heard Corley say he had murdered Alena Kennedy. The witnesses testified that Corley admitted to choking Alena while she was staying at his residence on McDonald Avenue in April of 2017.

Family members of Alena Kennedy spoke at the sentencing hearing and shared memories of Alena as a loving daughter, sister, and mother. Kennedy was a graduate of Lexington High School.

Deputy Solicitor Suzanne Mayes and Senior Assistant Solicitor Angela Garrick Martin prosecuted the case for the 11th Circuit Solicitor’s Office. Corley will be transferred to the SC Department of Corrections where he will immediately begin serving his sentence.

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