A young man who admitted shooting four people and terrorizing York County for months will never be free again.
Monday afternoon, a judge sentenced Phillip Watts Jr. to life in prison without parole. Watts went on a violent crime spree in the fall of 2007 and winter of 2008, robbing seven stores and shooting four people.
"I wasn't going to stop. I was going to York next," Watts once said in a statement to police last year.
All of York County was on edge during the crime spree. In every case, Watts shot people for no reason. He even shot the former mayor of Fort Mill, who unknowingly held the door open for him after he robbed a convenience store. In another case, he shot a clerk at the saltwater seafood store
In Rock Hill, Watts shot clerk Ping Chen after he already had the money, and then walked back up to the counter where she was on the floor and shot her again.
That's the case that Watts was sentenced for on Monday. The victim spoke in front of the court.
"The pain can go away," Chen said. "But something happened in my mind, and that won't go away."
As Watts stood before Judge John Hayes, his mother wiped tears from her eyes. After the sentence, his father, Phillip Watts Sr., apologized to the people his son had so badly hurt.
"I pray that at some point when these people live a little longer, they'll be able to forgive my son for what happened," he said. "I still just can't believe he did this, but apparently, it happened."
Watts himself apologized briefly to his victims, but quickly added that he wanted help in prison with his medication, medicine he said he takes to keep himself balanced. The judge said that's the responsibility of the Department of Corrections and not his.
Even though Watts is in prison for life, two more cases are still pending: the robbery and shooting on John Boy's Valero in Fort Mill and the robbery and shooting at Cash On The Spot on Heckle Boulevard in Rock Hill. That was Watts' last crime.
Ida Lord was a customer in that check-cashing store when Watts came in. She was grabbed and shot in the head at point-blank range. Solicitor Kevin Brackett said Lord is out of a wheelchair, and is now walking and talking. However, the gunshot has damaged her permanently, he said.
Dates have not yet been set for the sentencing on those final two cases.