Maunwell Ervin, left, and his defense attorney, Lauren Taylor, stand before a circuit court judge moments after Ervin was found guilty on three of the five charges he faced in a drug trafficking case Wednesday evening at the Greenwood County Courthouse. (Matt Bruce | Index-Journal)
The final day of an accused Greenwood drug trafficker's retrial culminated amid swirling allegations of jury tampering Wednesday at the Greenwood County Courthouse.
A panel of jurors deliberated for more than three hours and found Maunwell Ervin, 32, of Windmill Circle, guilty on three of the five drug charges he faced this week. Moments after the verdict was read, Circuit Court Judge Frank Addy Jr. issued a 15-year prison term for Ervin, who stood stone-faced as the sentence was imposed.
Ervin was on trial for the second time this year, stemming from a December 2010 raid at his home along Lawson Street, during which Greenwood County narcotics officers found bundles of marijuana, crack cocaine and several pill tablets. He faced charges of trafficking crack cocaine, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession of a controlled substance, trafficking crack cocaine within one-half mile of a school, park or playground, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana within a half-mile of a school, park or playground. A jury convicted him on both marijuana-related counts and the charge of possession of a controlled substance. Addy ordered Ervin into S.C. Department of Corrections custody for 10 years on the possession with intent to distribute marijuana indictment and five years for the charge tied to distributing the drug within close proximity to Lander University. Both sentences will run consecutively.Prosecutors and county narcotics agents described Ervin as one of Greenwood County's biggest drug dealers.
"This is someone who's a repeat offender, and I'm glad the jurors spoke how they did and we got him off the street for possessing and distributing large amounts of drugs in our community," said 8th Circuit Assistant Solicitor Aaron Taylor, who acted as the lead prosecutor in the case.
The trial's final day was tempered with corruption following the revelation an acquaintance of Ervin's made contact with one of the jurors Tuesday, following the first day of testimony in the case. That juror, who reported the incident to authorities, was questioned by Addy in the courtroom Wednesday morning, and subsequently recused herself from the jury panel. She was the second juror to be excused. Another original juror was dismissed Tuesday morning after issues about his possible prejudices were raised. Ervin spoke with his attorneys after the second juror was dismissed and elected to continue the trial with just 11 jurors.
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