Hastings Arthur Wise bigraphy, stories - American mass murderer

Hastings Arthur Wise : biography

February 16, 1954 - November 4, 2005

Hastings Arthur Wise (February 16, 1954 – November 4, 2005), was a convicted U.S mass murderer who was executed in the U.S. state of South Carolina for killing four former co-workers. Sometimes erroneously referred to by the press as "Arthur Hastings Wise," he was known simply as Hastings Wise to the people he worked with.

Wise shot and killed Charles Griffeth, David Moore, Leonard Filyaw, and Sheryl Wood on September 15, 1997 at the R.E. Phelon Company lawn mower parts manufacturing factory in Aiken, South Carolina, his former employer.

Civil suits

Ten people who were survivors of the shooting, or relatives of the dead, filed a civil suit against the security firm for which Vance worked, Regent Security Services. Federal District Court Judge Cameron Currie oversaw the settlement which was reached Monday, November 5, 2001, just one day before the case was scheduled to go to trial. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed.

Vance himself sued R.E. Phelon, and settled with them in March 2001 prior to the Regent Security Services settlement. Vance's argument was that Phelon failed to warn him that Hastings Wise had a history of prior disruptions there. The amount of Vance's settlement was also undisclosed.

Phelon and its insuror, Liberty Mutual, brought four suits against Regent on behalf of 32 employees who received workers' compensation payments for injuries and trauma related to the event. In July 2001, Phelon and Liberty dropped the four state lawsuits and intervened in the federal lawsuits filed by the victims, hoping to recover some of the over $380,000 spent on the work comp claims.

Trial and appeals

Wise was indicted in August 1998. His trial was delayed when the judge assigned to it was changed in 2000, and underwent a further delay when one of his defense attorneys was arrested in North Augusta, South Carolina on domestic violence charges. Although the crimes were committed in Aiken County, the trial itself was held in Beaufort County, South Carolina by order of the trial judge, who felt that the publicity around the crime may have tainted the Aiken County jury pool.

A psychiatrist who assessed Wise said that he drove over 9,000 miles in the two weeks before the murders, in a desire to visit and see sights such as the San Diego Zoo before carrying out the crimes he planned to commit. The psychiatrist said that the only motive behind the murders was the dismissal from his job, and that Wise felt he had been mistreated all his life due to being African American.

After a two-week trial in which the defense called no witnesses, Wise was convicted of the four murders after five hours of deliberation by the jury.

During the sentencing phase of the trial, at Wise's insistence, no character witnesses were called by the defense, although his attorneys had a slate of thirteen people willing to testify. Wise reportedly said:

"I don't have much to say except that I did not wish to take advantage of the court as far as asking [for] mercy. It's a fair trial. I committed the crimes."

He was given the death penalty for all four murders. Wise was also sentenced to 60 years for the non-fatal shootings Stan Vance, Jerry Corley and John Mucha, all of whom survived. Shorter concurrent sentences were given for burglary and possession of a gun during the commission of a violent crime.

After conviction, on February 2, 2001, Wise was transferred to the custody of the South Carolina Department of Corrections, where he was known as Inmate #00005074.

After an automatic appeal to the South Carolina Supreme Court, the conviction and sentence were upheld. Wise's court-appointed attorneys then appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which declined to hear the appeal.

At that point, Wise wrote to the state Supreme Court to say that the second appeal was made against his wishes and that he wanted to die. Wise thus waived the right to further appeals of his death sentence. He was the sixth person to do so since South Carolina reintroduced capital punishment after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Gregg v. Georgia.

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