According to court documents police were called to a home in York County South Carolina where they believed an armed intruder was barricaded in the home. Soon police would realize the armed suspect was a fourteen year old boy. When police finally entered the home they would discover the body of Alethea Lisa Puckett Totherow who had been shot multiple times and her son John would be taken into custody
Prosecutors were attempting to get the fourteen year old moved to adult court where he would have faced a life sentence if convicted of the murder however the father of John Totherow did not want this scenario for his son. John would plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter and would be sentenced to twenty eight years in prison
John Totherow News
A 16-year-old charged with killing his mother in York County last year accepted a plea deal before a judge sentenced him.
The Sutton Springs Road incident shut down the area for hours with the SWAT team responding. At that time, police believed an armed intruder was inside the home.
Hours later, police arrested John Totherow, who was 14 years old at the time of the murder. Prosecutors said this was a difficult case given the age of the defendant and the victim being his mother.
The state tried him as an adult when the teen accepted the plea deal, but the teen’s father didn’t want his son to serve life in prison
“His father is understandably in a position that none of us would ever want to be in,” Whitney Payne, the senior solicitor for the 16th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, said.
Kenny Totherow told the court he’s in a difficult place today because he would likely never see his son again. He recounted hugging and kissing his wife, Alethea Lisa Puckett Totherow, and his son John before leaving for work that morning.
He checked in with his wife around lunch and said he would see her later.
“Little did I know that all hell would break loose in my home,” Kenny Totherow said.
Prosecutors said John Totherow shot and killed his mother at their Sutton Springs Road home. An autopsy report showed Lisa Totherow had 12 gunshot wounds and six projectiles were recovered from her body.
Despite what happened, Kenny Totherow said he still loves his son.
“I’m sure everybody in this room looks at me and says, ‘How could you still love your son?’ Very simply, my son was a gift from God above,” said Totherow.
John Totherow, now 16, was originally charged with murder, but the solicitor’s office reduced that to voluntary manslaughter and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime after a plea agreement.
“Your honor we had to balance in the case the interest of protecting the public and the interest of justice, with the fact we were looking at a 14-year-old,” Payne said.
The solicitor told the judge the juvenile system was not adequate in this case because the defendant would have been released within three to five years, so he was tried as an adult when he accepted the plea deal.
“In weighing all of this, it’s murder. I mean that’s what it is,” Nathan Sheldon, attorney for John Totherow, said. “So the benefit of being able to plea to manslaughter is a benefit that we are saving hopefully years of this young man’s life.”
It’s a wish the father had as prosecutors tried the case.
“I’m probably not going to ever see him on the outside again,” Kenny Totherow said. “I’m never going be able to go to a ballgame with a grand youngin.”
As the father finished his remarks in court, he asked the judge to hug his son one last time.
“I will not give up on him. Everybody else in this room may give up on him with the exception of a few people that’s sitting here with me today, but I won’t give up on him,” Kenny Totherow said.
The judge agreed on the plea agreement with John Totherow facing 28 years in prison and required to serve 85% of that sentence. Totherow’s attorney said he will likely only serve 24 years.