James Richard Elledge, Jr., age 27, of Lexington County, was sentenced to 25 years of incarceration following his guilty plea to voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Madison Leslie Leavitt. This crime is classified as a “no parole” offense. The plea took place on Thursday morning at the Lexington County Judicial Center before Circuit Court Judge William P. Keesley.
Deputy Solicitor Shawn Graham and Assistant Solicitor Bradley Pogue handled the prosecution of this case on behalf of the 11th Circuit Solicitor’s Office. Pogue stated, “We are grateful that Elledge has taken responsibility for the senseless death of Madison Leavitt. Elledge has a criminal record for violence and drug-related activity involving methamphetamine.” Pogue further commented, “This tragedy could have been easily avoided, yet Elledge chose to carry out a brutal act of violence.”
The shooting occurred on the evening of November 7, 2015, near the intersection of Church Road and Gator Road in the Gaston area of Lexington County. The 24-year-old mother of one was killed around 8:30 pm while riding in the rear seat of a 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Immediately prior to the shooting, Elledge fired a 9mm handgun eleven times at the victim’s vehicle as it was leaving Elledge’s nearby residence at 312 Crossfield Road. Elledge subsequently got into his own vehicle and initiated a high speed pursuit of the Jeep down Fish Hatchery Road. It is believed that Elledge was pursuing the Jeep Grand Cherokee for the purpose of a confrontation. Elledge ultimately stopped his vehicle on Gator Road and fired an AK-47 assault rifle multiple times at the victim’s vehicle, resulting in Leavitt’s death. Elledge left the scene and fled to Aiken County where he was apprehended three days later.
This case was investigated by Detective Sandy Black and Sgt. Michael Gooding of the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department Major Crimes Unit. Detective Black recently recovered the AK-47 firearm buried underneath an above-ground swimming pool at a residence in Gaston following a tip from a potential witness in the case.
Family and friends of Madison Leavitt were present for the guilty plea and sentencing hearing. Leavitt’s mother, Melissa Martin, delivered an emotional statement to the court, explaining that Leavitt was a loving, compassionate young woman. Martin expressed that she is trying to find forgiveness in her heart for Elledge, but that it is a “day by day” process.