Steven Lewis Barnes, a 38-year-old Augusta man, has been found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison for the shooting death of 16-year-old Samuel Sturrup, which occurred on September 3rd, 2001 in Edgefield County. The verdict was returned earlier this afternoon following jury deliberations for one hour and four minutes. The sentence was imposed by Circuit Court Judge Diane Goodstein after a week-long jury trial. Barnes was sentenced to life without parole as a result of a prior conviction for armed robbery, a violent crime, in the State of Georgia in 2003.
Barnes was previously convicted of Sturrup’s murder in 2010, however, the case was reversed on appeal. The case was pending for re-trial when Solicitor Hubbard was sworn in as Eleventh Circuit Solicitor in January of 2017.
Solicitor Rick Hubbard stated, “This is the long-awaited answer the Sturrup family has been seeking for sixteen years. After a long, painful road, we are grateful they have obtained justice for the murder of Samuel Sturrup.”
Sturrup was abducted by Barnes and two co-defendants, Julio and Alex Hunsberger, at 117 Cherry Street in Augusta and placed into the trunk of a vehicle. Barnes and several accomplices then traveled to a rural area near Community Road in Edgefield County during nighttime hours. After stopping in a hayfield, Barnes ordered Sturrup out of the trunk at gunpoint. He directed Sturrup to walk into a nearby wooded area where he handed a firearm to a female accomplice and told her to shoot Sturrup. The accomplice, Charlene Thatcher, is currently serving a lengthy prison sentence for her role in Sturrup’s death. Thatcher testified that Barnes then used a firearm to shoot Sturrup in the head.
Following the murder, Barnes and his accomplices returned to Augusta. According to statements and testimony from several of the accomplices, the guns used in the murder were thrown over a Savannah River bridge. Barnes then burned his clothing and destroyed all physical evidence linking him to Sturrup’s death. All co-defendants and accomplices of Barnes in the kidnapping and murder of Sturrup have previously been prosecuted.
Two months later, in November of 2001, an Edgefield County resident discovered human remains and notified the Edgefield County Sheriff’s Office. Lt. Randy Doran began the investigation in conjunction with Inv. Richard Roundtree of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office (Roundtree has since been elected Sheriff of Richmond County). An autopsy determined that Sturrup sustained a fatal gunshot wound to the head. Evidence at the crime scene determined that multiple rounds had been fired.
Barnes had been the subject of an ongoing investigation regarding a sex trafficking ring in Augusta. He was arrested on January 17, 2002 at his residence located at 3711 Cairo Court in Augusta. He was later convicted in 2003 on unrelated charges of armed robbery, two counts of kidnapping, and making terroristic threats in Georgia.
Following the jury’s verdict, Judge Goodstein noted the professionalism demonstrated by Sheriff Adell Dobey and the Edgefield County Sheriff’s Office. Judge Goodstein stated, “This Sheriff’s Office is second to none.” The case was prosecuted by Solicitor Rick Hubbard and Deputy Solicitor Suzanne Mayes. Solicitor Hubbard commented, “We are thankful for the efforts of Sheriff Dobey, Lt. Doran, and all officers involved in this investigation. They have remained committed to this case since day one.”
Family members of Samuel Sturrup were present for portions of the trial in Edgefield County. Sturrup was a student at Glenn Hills High School in Augusta at the time of his murder.