LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. - The closing comment from solicitor Randy Newman in the murder plea of David Pate Thursday could not have been more blunt.
"This is an evil man standing before you. If anyone deserves life in prison, it’s David Pate," Newman said.
Pate, 25, pleaded guilty to stabbing 33-year-old Ricky James 39 times with a butcher knife, then tying up his body with a rope, and leaving him under a pile of leaves.
The details of the crime are so disturbing members of James' family broke down in court, and looked away as prosecutors told the story.
Pate and James were both drinking on the early morning of October 18, 2013, when Pate lured James to a wooded path behind Mullis Road to kill him. There was no evidence of an argument between the two men, or any motive for the murder.
"I didn't know, I thought I might cut his head off," Pate said in a taped interview with deputies later on, boasting about what he did.
Pate admitted stabbing James, covering his body with leaves and brush, then going home to wash his blood-covered jacket. He then burned his other clothes in a fire pit outside his home.
Family members immediately filed a missing persons report on James, but it was a whole month later, on Nov. 16, when children playing found his decomposed remains.
Pate even told deputies he may not be finished killing.
"I wanted to remember that spot where he was, because I may want to kill another person there some day," he said.
A search of his home later turned up dozens of knives, and at least 20 homemade masks Pate had made. Deputies also found James' belongings, as Pate confessed to taking his wallet, his belt, which he often wore, shoes, and a ring that he had sold.
In court Thursday, prosecutors showed a 15-minute video clip of the interview Pate gave to Lancaster County sheriff's deputies in November of 2013. He calmly talks about killing James with a big knife, asking deputies if they'd ever heard of the character Michael Myers from the "Halloween" movies. Pate describes killing James in detail and at one point even blamed the victim for his own death.
"It was his fault. Why would anyone go drinking and go into the woods with someone who looks like me?" he said.
Pate had even told his mother how much he remembered of the crime.
"I remember everything, every little thing. I made a point to remember, because I enjoyed it," he told deputies.
On Thursday, two of James' brothers spoke in court.
"You're a devil! People like you shouldn't be allowed to live on the earth," said Antwon James.
"I hope you suffer. I hope you feel my pain. Give him everything you can give him, and let him suffer," said Rayshawn James.
Pate’s mother was also in the courtroom, but she did not speak up for her son.
Judge Dan Hall sentenced Pate to life in prison with no chance for parole, calling the murder a “senseless and remorseless” act.
Pate himself never spoke to the family or offered an apology. A mental health evaluation had earlier found him competent to stand trial, but Pate indicated to his lawyer that he wanted to enter a plea and get it over with.
Outside the courtroom, Rayshawn James said he was relieved that Pate will never get out of prison and that he could never understand him.
"He really is the devil. There's something wrong with the kid," he said.
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