Multiple violent offenders plead guilty in Lexington County courts
Lexington, SC - Lexington County officials recently conducted in-person court sessions to hear guilty pleas inside the Mark H. Westbrook Judicial Center. Safety measures and courtroom guidelines included mandatory face masks for participants and social distancing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Judge Walton J. McLeod IV presided over proceedings last week. This session included multiple violent offenders and cleared a number of criminal cases:
· Anthony Fanning, 38, received the maximum sentence of twenty (20) years for Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature. This crime is a “no parole” offense under South Carolina law.
On the afternoon of December 3, 2018, Fanning was operating a motorcycle and fired shots into a traveling Hyundai Sonata that was on I-26. A female occupant of the car was severely injured. During the apparent road rage incident, Fanning fired a pistol which struck the driver’s side of the car multiple times. Three adults and three small children were inside the Hyundai. There were several 911 callers who witnessed the event and one driver actually followed the motorcycle driven by Fanning to I-77 before losing sight of it due to the high speed that Fanning was travelling on the motorcycle while fleeing.
The mother of the children was critically injured and sustained injuries requiring surgeries to her skull, forehead, left eye, and jaw area. Several bullet fragments remain in her skull that doctors were unable to remove. The children were uninjured, although one bullet hit a baby car seat.
This case was prosecuted by 11th Circuit Senior Assistant Solicitor Angela G. Martin.
· Michael Matthew Nowinski, 27, was sentenced to twenty (20) years after pleading guilty to Armed Robbery, two counts of Kidnapping, Burglary – 2nd degree, and Possession of a Weapon during Commission of a Violent Crime. This crime is a “no parole” offense under South Carolina law.
On August 18, 2019, Nowinski committed a burglary of a residence located on Greenwood Drive in the West Columbia area of Lexington County. He was armed with a shotgun and struck three victims inside the residence while demanding the safe. After being apprehended by law enforcement, Nowinski made statements admitting to his involvement in the crime.
This case was handled by 11th Circuit Assistant Solicitor Sutania Fuller.
· Kimberly C. Wooten, age 56, pled guilty but mentally ill to the charge of Arson - 2nd degree and was sentenced to 25 years, suspended upon the service of 17 years of incarceration. Wooten pled to burning down a home under construction located at 265 Wessinger Farms Road in the Chapin area of Lexington County. This occurred on September 15, 2019. Under South Carolina law, this is a “no parole” offense and Wooten must serve at least 85% of the sentence.
Wooten is a serial arsonist with six (6) prior arson convictions from Richland County. In 2008, she was convicted for intentionally burning residential dwellings in the Irmo area. She served an active sentence of 13 years in the S.C. Department of Corrections before being released and then re-offending in 2019 with new arson charges in Lexington County.
During the sentencing hearing, Lexington County Fire Chief Mark Davis addressed the court regarding the ongoing threat that Wooten poses to the community. Chief Davis also expressed profound concern for the safety of all firefighters who risk their lives while battling arson crimes. Multiple firefighters responded to the fire at Wessinger Farms Road and entered the structure to fight the fire.
Lexington County Sheriff’s Department Detective Joshua Skeen also addressed the court regarding Wooten’s long standing history of arson crimes:
“My investigation revealed Wooten to be South Carolina’s most prolific serial arsonist and she has already proven that she will commit these acts of arson again since she re-offended after spending years in prison.”
Wooten’s case was prosecuted by 11th Circuit Deputy Solicitor Suzanne Mayes.