The man charged with kidnapping 15-year-old Gabbiee Swainson from her northeast Richland County home one year ago this month has pled guilty to her murder and will spend 30 years in prison.
A judge today agreed to a plea deal for 53-year-old Freddie Grant.
He was sentenced to 30 years for kidnapping and 30 years for murder, to be served concurrently.
Grant said nothing when offered a chance to speak in the courtroom.
After refusing to cooperate with authorities during the months of searching for the teenager, he finally led investigators last week to a grave near Elgin where he buried the girl.
Grant agreed to show the teen's location in exchange for charges being dropped against his own daughter, 27-year-old Dominique Grant, who had been arrested as an accessory after the fact to a felony.
Fifth Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson says he dislikes the plea bargaining, but this could not have been prosecuted as a death penalty case.
“Because we did not have a body and we did not have the information to substantiate the case, it would have been difficult to do that,” Johnson tells WVOC.
“We had to make that decision in order to bring closure to the family. Myself nor the sheriff nor Gabbiee's mother came to that decision lightly. These negotiations were difficult. Gabbiee's mother prayed on it. I had to pray on it, quite frankly. And we brought Gabbiee home.”
Johnson today revealed how Swainson died: suffocation, after her hands and face were bound.
A candlelight vigil will be held for her tonight at 8:15 in Elgin, now moved to a field near the intersection of Greenhill Road and Main Street.
And a memorial service is set at her church, Right Direction Church International, at 6 p.m. Sunday – the first anniversary of her abduction.