A white Newberry County man who last summer shot his black friend and then dragged the body behind his pickup truck was sentenced Tuesday to 28 years in prison.
The case stirred racial tension in the county as some residents questioned why the shooter, Gregory Collins, was not charged with a hate crime in the death of Anthony Hill.
The controversy was fueled by the New Black Panther Party, an out-of-town group that held a march and rally in downtown Newberry to protest the fact that Collins was not being charged with a hate crime. The situation led the state’s top law enforcement officers to hold a town hall meeting, during which residents jeered and cheered the officials.
Prosecutor Jerry Peace, the 8th Circuit solicitor, said Tuesday the shooting and dragging had nothing to do with race.
“What it boils down to is friends, alcohol and guns,” Peace said. “We see this all the time. Alcohol and guns just don’t mix.”