Man pleads guilty to killing Chesterfield County woman; sentenced to life in prison



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COLUMBIA, South Carolina — A man has been sentenced to life in prison without parole after pleading guilty to killing a Chesterfield County store clerk more than three years ago.

Multiple media outlets reported that 23-year-old Nickolas Jermaine Miller pleaded guilty Wednesday to beating 30-year-old Hope Melton to death with a baseball bat in Kershaw County on the day after Christmas in 2011.

Investigators said Miller chased Melton after she left a convenience store in Jefferson. They say he forced her car off the road, abducted her, and sexually assaulted her.

Miller's lawyers gave no reason for the killing other than saying their client "blacked out" during the incident. He did not make a statement during the hearing.

Prosecutors say they were unable to seek a death sentence because then-Chesterfield County Sheriff Sam Parker illegally obtained a confession by telling Miller he could avoid a death sentence by confessing.

Parker was convicted last April on charges of misconduct in office and furnishing contraband to inmates. He was sentenced to two years in prison.

Ellen Hamilton, director the Pee Dee Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, said the family was devastated when they learned that Parker had jeopardized their ability to seek a death sentence.

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