Todd Kohlhepp, the former real estate agent, who was arrested last fall after a South Carolina woman was found on his property “chained like a dog” pleaded guilty in a Spartanburg courtroom Friday morning to killing seven people.
With a chain around his waist, Kohlhepp, 46, dressed in an orange jumpsuit with county jail written on the back, stood before Judge Derham Cole and pleaded guilty to 14 charges, including seven murder charges, kidnapping and sexual assault.
He quietly said “yes sir” as Cole read aloud each of his charges and said he understood the penalty that the charges carried.
Kohlhepp agreed to receive seven consecutive life sentences and waived his right to parole.
The solicitor agreed in exchange for the guilty pleas not to seek the death penalty.
The judge told Kohlhepp: “The term life means … until your death in the South Carolina Department of Corrections.”
Kohlhepp also received 30 extra years on the criminal sexual conduct charge and 30 years for kidnapping.
This photo made available by the Spartanburg, S.C., County Sheriff’s Office shows Todd Kohlhepp of Moore, S.C. Kohlhepp pleaded guilty 14 charges, including seven murder charges Friday, May, 26, 2017, in Spartanburg, S.C. (Photo: Spartanburg County (S.C.) Sheriff’s Office)
Kohlhepp’s attorney Shane Gorenson: “There are no other victims. Mr. Kohlhepp has come clean.”
Cole also asked Kohlhepp and his attorneys whether he had sufficient opportunity to talk about the case and if he had a rational and factual understanding of the proceedings.
Three of the killings happened on Kohlhepp’s Woodruff, S.C., property where Kala Brown was found alive and chained in a storage container. Charles David Carver, Brown’s boyfriend, and Johnny and Meagan Coxie were unearthed from shallow graves.
Solicitor Barry Barnette said before Meagn Coxie was shot in the back of the head, she was held in a shipping container for days just like Brown.
Brown’s cellphone pinged on the Woodruff property up to two days after she was last seen by friends Aug. 31, 2016, according to Anderson police.
Brown did not attend Friday’s hearing. Dozens of family members of Kohlhepp’s victims filled one side of the courtroom.
In a new detail, Brown told deputies that Kohlhepp told her about killing four people at Superbike Motorsports in Chesnee, S.C.
The Superbike shootings happened in 2003. Kohlhepp shot to death Scott Ponder, Beverly Guy, Brian Lucas and Chris Sherbert at Superbike Motorsports in Chesnee, S.C.
Ponder’s widow, Melissa Ponder Brackman, said her son, Scott Jr., never got to experience his father cheering him on for making the honor roll or the way a father jokes with his son.
Brackman said she was put through “living hell” in the days after the Superbike murders. “I have lost so much,” she said.
Through tears, Brackman said, “there truly isn’t justice when a victim is murdered. … There is no closure.”
Scott Jr. told the court: “I have lived 13 years without a father.”
Brown and Carver, who shared an apartment in Anderson, S.C., went to Kohlhepp’s property in Woodruff late last August believing he wanted them to do some cleaning and clearing for him, according to investigators. The couple was missing for more than two months before deputies found Brown.
Before Kohlhepp was charged with murder last year, he bought and sold real estate in Upstate South Carolina for a decade, and many people never knew he already had a criminal history.
As a teen in Arizona, Kohlhepp was living with his biological father, William Sampsell, when Kohlhepp lured his 14-year-old neighbor away from home and raped her at gunpoint, according to police records.
He was tried as an adult and sentenced to 15 years in prison for felony kidnapping.
After his release, Kohlhepp moved to South Carolina and received his real estate license, working as a broker for a Spartanburg real estate company before starting his own real estate business, TKA Real Estate.