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Trial begins in Clinton murder; plea postponed

The murder trial of Khalid Asiatic Cunningham was to begin Tuesday at the Laurens County Hillcrest Judicial Complex in front of 8th Circuit Judge Frank R. Addy, Jr.

Jury selection began Monday in the case with open arguments scheduled for Tuesday.

Cunningham, 26, of Clinton, is accused of murder in the shooting death of Freddie Markell Byrd in April of 2020. Cunningham is one of two defendants in the case. Malik Antonio Copeland was also arrested in connection with Byrd’s death.

Byrd, 31, was shot and killed behind a house on Neighborhood Drive in Clinton during the early morning hours of April 4, 2020.  The Laurens County Coroner’s Office said Byrd died of a gunshot wound to the chest.

Cunningham was arrested on April 13, 2020 and charged with murder. Copeland was arrested on May 21, 2020 and also faces murder and weapons charges.

Both Cunningham and Copeland were denied bond.

Presumed plea rescheduled

Robert Richardson

A plea hearing for the man charged in the vehicular death of a 20-year-old Clinton firefighter scheduled for this past Friday has been postponed.

Robert Curry Richardson, 56, was expected to plead guilty to felony DUI resulting in death at Friday’s hearing. The hearing has not been rescheduled as of yet, according to the 8th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.

According to the South Carolina Highway Patrol, Sipes was piloting a motorcycle westbound on Highway 76 near Randall Drive when Richardson pulled out in front of the motocyclist from a private driveway.

Sipes died from his injuries a short time later at Prisma Greenville Memorial Hospital.

Richardson also faces hit-and-run resulting in death and driving under suspension charges.

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