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Holland & Usry, P.A.

Spartanburg Trial: Murder by Car

Posted on Dec 04, 2014

A highly unusual murder trial began at the Spartanburg County Courthouse in Spartanburg on December 2, 2014. Prosecutors claim Sandy Lynn Westmoreland murdered his lover, Michael Daniels, by running him over with Westmoreland’s Ford Explorer as Daniels walked down Skylyn Drive near Mary Black Hospital in Spartanburg around March 14, 2012.

Testimony revealed Westmoreland was admitted to Mary Black that night. A security guard testified Daniels “stumbled” from Westmoreland’s hospital room with a bloody nose, crying. Westmoreland apparently gave authorities four separate statements. In one, he claimed he hit a deer before accidently hitting Daniels. He stopped, discovered Daniels not breathing, and left. An accident reconstructionist with the South Carolina Highway Patrol testified the vehicle hitting Daniels went 29 to 37 mph before the driver veered off the road and went through bushes before returning to the roadway. He testified there was no evidence of braking.

Westmoreland faces potentially steep sentences if convicted. For murder, he could serve thirty years to life without parole. He also faces hit-and-run causing death, a felony requiring at least one year in prison up to twenty-five years plus a fine of at least $10,000 (and potentially up to $25,000). He’s also charged with assault and battery, second degree, which carries up to three years in prison, plus a malicious injury to personal property valued at less than $2,000, which carries up to 30 days.

Westmoreland testified in his defense. He called Daniels his “rock” and stated the crash was an accident. Westmoreland testified he and Daniels argued at the hospital, where a cane Westmoreland twirled accidently hit Daniels in the nose—thus explaining how Daniels’ nose got bloodied. He testified he approached Daniels walking down the road and jerked the steering wheel to pull over and pick him up. He testified he “felt a boom,” then found Daniels and tried CPR. He stated he never called for help because he was “scared to death” and high on pain medication he got at the hospital.

A doctor who treated Westmoreland that night testified Westmoreland got his final dose about four hours before discharge. The doctor stated he did not consider Westmoreland to be under the influence.

This is a case with many twists and turns, with a tragic end whether Westmoreland committed a crime or not. We are terribly sorry for the sorrow this has brought to all the lives it has touched, but remain confident justice will do its part in the end. Regardless of the outcome, this case highlights the severe consequences that can result from Spartanburg hit and run charges, especially when a victim is involved and passes away from the crash.