Stephen Belcher sentenced ten years after pleading guilty to the mercy murders of his sick parents, Henrietta Belcher and William Belcher. But was it mercy?
Stephen Belcher a Boiling Springs, South Carolina man has been sentenced to ten years jail after telling the court he gunned down his ’sick’ parents caused they asked him to.
The 40 year old son’s sentencing comes after pleading guilty Thursday to two counts of voluntary manslaughter in his parents’ deaths, Henrietta Green Belcher, 60, and William Edward Belcher, 69, Nov. 5, 2016.
The Herald-Journal of Spartanburg reported Stephen Linwood Belcher saying he murdered his ailing parents because of their health problems.
It wasn’t clear why the son, a married father of two had chosen the method of shooting his parents and perhaps a more less painful and violent death.
A previous report told of the parents being shot several times in the head, as one of the victims was found in a bedroom at the end of a hallway in a wheelchair and the other was seated at a desk.
Belcher initially was charged with murder in the shooting deaths of his parents after their bodies were found on the second floor of the family home. Spartanburg County police said they had been killed 10 days earlier.
It wasn’t clear why the son hadn’t notified authorities at the time of his parents shooting deaths and whether he had any intention of reporting their deaths had it not been for the couple’s bodies being discovered during a ‘welfare check,’ at the hands of concerned family and friends.
Told the son’s defense attorney Doug Brannon, ‘What my client did was not legal, but what my client did was merciful.’
Prior to plea deal, Stephen Belcher faced a potential life sentence:
Belcher’s wife, Vonda Belcher, said the couple moved from Georgia to the area to better take care of his parents.
‘I ask for mercy. He felt like he was helping them,’ Vonda Belcher said in court.
Henrietta had been sick for more than six years, the wife said. Her condition deteriorated after a heart attack in 2010. During that time, she suffered multiple strokes that limited her ability to care for herself.
At the time of their deaths, the wife told of her husband caring for his mother and father around the clock.
Prosecutor Barry Barnette says the lesser charge was part of a plea deal. Circuit Judge Derham Cole gave Belcher a 10-year prison sentence.
Cole sentenced Belcher to 10 years in prison for each of the voluntary manslaughter charges and five years in prison for possession of a firearm during a violent crime. The sentences will be served concurrently, or at the same time.
Prior to the plea deal, Belcher had faced a potential life sentence in the killings.
Stephen Belcher sister: ‘I do understand it, and I forgive him’.
Deborah Belcher, Stephen’s sister, said he was better able to care for their parents than she could. He carried his mother when necessary, helping her get around the family’s house, something Deborah could not do.
‘I do understand it, and I forgive him,’ she said.
Stephen Belcher’s older brother, David, also testified for him before the sentencing.
‘My brother was guilty of loving my parents to a tragic end,’ David Belcher said. ‘I don’t want Stephen to spend the rest of his life in prison.’
The Belcher siblings discussed putting their mother into an assisted living facility, but didn’t act on the plan due to fear of their father, who had become increasingly angry and abusive since Henrietta became ill, Deborah said.
The siblings said their father was a violent man, and he only became more violent as his wife’s condition worsened.
While recognizing her brother’s actions were wrong, Deborah Belcher said she recognized his motivation was good.