Accused Murderer Denies Plea Deal in Case of Dismemberment and Arson, Heads to Trial in South Carolina

As a man accused of killing, dismembering, and setting another man on fire was denied a plea deal, the case will now go to a criminal trial.

Attorney Eric Hempel has already been tried in a Georgetown County court for the murder of 35-year-old Harry Barkley. In Williamsburg County, he was supposed to enter a plea Thursday on a charge related to what happened to the body after the murder.

The family of Barkley declined a plea deal for Hempel on a charge of desecration or destruction of human remains.

“It has been a long and hard road.” Teresa Barkley’s sister, Christina Turner, says, “We didn’t come here expecting this outcome, but I’m glad this county has been there for us.”

According to Turner, the family left with mixed feelings. They are glad they will be able to bring the case to a formal trial, but they are also ready to fight for peace in any way they determine.

“Georgetown did not do us justice at all. It’s like they didn’t care, they didn’t even try,” Ayanna West, Barkley’s mother said. “He was a good kid. Death was not what he deserved. It was a horrible killing”.

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Following a year of being lost, Barkley’s body was discovered in a forest in 2021 as per Live5News.

Ashley Hempel and Shelby Francis Makaley Ashby were arrested for the murder in 2021. Hoempel was accused of murder, having a gun during a violent crime, and being an accomplice to murder. In addition, Ashby was charged with helping to kill someone after the crimes happened.

Before the trial started, Ashby was supposed to testify against Hempel, but she overdosed and died in the Georgetown County Detention Center.

Before being sentenced, Hempel entered an Alford Plea in April for the associate charge. By pleading not guilty, Alford admitted that the court would have enough proof to convict him if the case went to trial.

Following Hempel’s decision to reject the plea deal in Williamsburg County on Thursday, Barkley’s family heard that a new court date is planned for around September.

Don’t let your loved ones get away, because you never know when you might not get to say goodbye. It hurts me the most to think about that. That’s why I don’t want anyone else to go through the pain we’ve been through over the past few years. Turner complains, “Not even my worst enemies.”

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