"This is a test for us all"
PHOTOS: Dozens of Laurens County residents attended a Sunday evening vigil for a 2-year-old beaten to death allegedly by his mother's boyfriend.
"We don't want to see any child hurt," said Jack Logan, of Greenville, director of the organization, Put Down the Guns Young People. Sheriff Don Reynolds said Brantley Smith's death was not gun violence, but he said Logan was moved to action anyway. Reynolds said he, his officers and first responders are handling their emotions as best they can, and counseling and chaplaincy will be available for any responders who need it. Brantley's battered and sexually abused body was found at 2:23 am Saturday at 176 Country Lane, soutn of Clinton.
Some in the crowd shouted, "Justice for Brantley" and "No plea deal." Logan said the justice system will have to work for the 2 people accused in the youngster's death - Jessica Blake Smith, the boy's mother, and William Ryan Looper, her boyfriend - but the death penalty should be examined for this homicide. Logan said just because fists, and not guns, were involved here, the death is no less senseless and tragic for the Laurens County community. Reynolds said, "Our officers will be diligent in making sure these people pay for this crime."
People attending the Sunday vigil brought toys for Brantley's brothers, ages 6 and 7. Reynolds said people who want to respond with money can contact the Laurens County Sheriff's Office, 864-984-4967.