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The man who pleaded guilty to shooting and killing a Rock Hill teen at a Fort Mill store in January bought the gun an hour before the shooting — and had previously admitted having homicidal thoughts, prosecutors said.
Christopher Benjamin Mendez, 29, pleaded guilty Tuesday in York County court to shooting Karson Whitesell, 19, at The Peach Stand in Fort Mill on Jan. 23.
Life - Prison - Possibility - Parole
He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Sixteenth - Judicial - Circuit - Solicitor - Kevin
Sixteenth Judicial Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett said Mendez bought a .45-caliber gun at Cabela’s about an hour before he walked into the small store in Fort Mill.
Whitesell, whose family says she dedicated her life to service, was working there.
Ms - Whitesell - Look - Brackett
“He claims Ms. Whitesell looked at him funny, or gave him a look he didn’t appreciate,” Brackett said.
He said Mendez walked back out to the car, loaded his new handgun, walked back in and shot Whitesell five times.
Mendez - Lawyer - Defender - Phil - Smith
Mendez’ lawyer, public defender Phil Smith, said Mendez had a history of mental health issues, and he never felt like he fit in. Mendez flunked out of 12th grade and got his G.E.D. after several tries, Smith said.
He was put on medication after he was committed to a mental institution for more than a week in June 2017. But before the shooting, Mendez wasn’t taking the medication – it made him feel worse, Smith said, and he didn’t have insurance.
His prescription has since been changed.
As Smith talked about the crime, Mendez was visibly shaking and began to cry.
“He was meaning to kill himself,” Smith said. “Couldn’t go through with it.”
In a recorded statement to police that was played in court, Mendez said he “felt relieved” after the shooting – like he had taken revenge.
Brackett - Court
“Why did he do this?” Brackett said in court. “Ultimately, because he wanted to see how it...
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