Clinton woman pleads, sentenced in fatal DUI case

Khelsy Chanta Rice

A Clinton woman was sentenced to 16 years in prison after pleading guilty Thursday to charges stemming from a 2018 automobile crash on Highway 76 that left two people dead.

Khelsy Chanta Rice, 40, pleaded guilty to two counts of felony DUI resulting in death and two counts of felony DUI with great bodily injury at the Greenwood County Courthouse.

After accepting the “straight up” plea deal, Circuit Judge Thomas L. Hughston sentenced Rice to 16 years in prison on each of the charges resulting in death and 10 years in prison on each of the charges resulting in great bodily injury. The sentences are to run concurrently. The maximum sentence in South Carolina for felony DUI resulting in death is 25 years in prison. The guilty “straight up” plea means there were no sentencing negotiations or recommendations by prosecutors.

Eighth Circuit Solicitor David Stumbo announced the plea deal Saturday.

Rice was driving a 2004 Ford Taurus on Highway 76 near the Dance South Studio between Clinton and Joanna when the accident occurred just before midnight on May 19, 2018. She veered across the center line and struck a 2007 Ford Mustang head-on.

Marge Seymore, 65, and Lois “Bit” King were both killed and two other passengers were airlifted to area hospitals for treatment. The four women were returning home to Clinton from a concert in Newberry.

Rice, whose trial was scheduled for Laurens County during the next term of court here prior to her plea, was found by blood toxicology tests to have “high amounts of methamphetamine and trace amounts of alcohol” in her bloodstream at the time of the accident.

“The irresponsible choices made by Khelsy Rice on that fateful night have left two families with voids that can never be filled,” Stumbo said. “Although there is nothing that we can do in the courtroom to bring these beloved ladies back, my prayer is that their families have gained some closure and can continue to move forward in their healing process. We also hope during this holiday season that the message is heard loud and clear that, if you choose to drive while intoxicated, you will be held accountable.”

Eighth Circuit Special Prosecutor Knox McMahon and Assistant Solicitor Julie Kate Keeney handled the case for the state, with assistance from Victim Advocate Rhetta Christian Smith. Rice was represented by Tristan Shaffer of the Public Defender’s Office.

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