Posted on Nov 15, 2013

A man accused of murdering an 8-year-old girl appeared in a Spartanburg County court for the pre-trial hearing for his case.

Rickey Lee Blackwell Sr., 54, from Chesnee is charged with kidnapping and murdering Heather Brooke Center. Center was eight years old at the time of her disappearance and murder.

According to prosecutors, Blackwell is accused of putting Center in a headlock, and then shooting her in the head. Reports claim that he then shot her three more times. The murder happened on Ridings Road near Chesnee on July 8, 2009.

The investigator of the case, Loren Williams, talked to Blackwell after he was hospitalized for shooting himself in the abdomen. Testimony from Williams showed that Blackwell stated that he had hard feelings about the dissolution of his marriage and he wanted to hurt Center’s father. He claimed to have shot Center in front of his estranged wife. His former wife was dating Center’s father at the time of the murder.

The Spartanburg criminal defense lawyer for Blackwell requested that any statements made to law enforcement at the scene of the crime or in the hospital be suppressed from trial. Testimony showed that Blackwell had made statements about shooting the girl while at the scene, in the hospital, and later to a jailer at the Spartanburg County Detention Center.

There is still debate about where to hold the trial. The prosecution has requested that the trial be moved to another venue. Blackwell’s trial was schedule for January 27, 2014, but with the confusion it has now been postponed to the first week in March.

As members of a Spartanburg criminal defense law firm, we send our heartfelt condolences to the family of Heather Brooke Center after their devastating loss.

Rob Usry
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Rob is a Spartanburg personal injury lawyer. Rob also practices as a workers' compensation attorney.