COLUMBIA — An Augusta man sentenced to death by an Edgefield County jury three years ago for the killing of a teenager is entitled to a new trial.
This month, the South Carolina Supreme Court reversed the conviction and sentence of Steven Barnes, who is serving a life term.
The court said the judge in an earlier trial erred when he ruled Barnes could not represent himself at trial.
Barnes was the leader of six people implicated in the kidnapping and shooting death of 16-year-old Samuel J. Sturrup Jr. in 2001.
Barnes was arrested in 2002 when authorities busted a prostitution ring in Richmond and Columbia counties. He owned AA Angels Escort Service, which sold sex with teenage girls, The Augusta Chronicle reported.
The events that led to Sturrup’s murder began when Barnes was 23. He was living in Augusta, “where he surrounded himself with high school students” who were drawn to him because he “had money, girls, and cars,” according to court records.
At one point, he accused Sturrup of stealing from him and beat him with his fists, a pole and a shock absorber.
The group put Sturrup in the trunk and took him to a remote corner of Edgefield County. After ordering his accomplices to each shoot Sturrup, Barnes then shot the teen in the head. Sturrup was killed on Sept. 3, 2001 but not discovered until Nov. 19, 2001.