Lous Winkler was sentenced to death by the State of South Carolina for the murder of Rebekah Grainger Winkler . According to court documents Louis Winkler would kidnap and sexually assault Rebekah Grainger Winkler. After he was arrested for these crimes he would be let out on jail on bond and proceed to murder Rebekah Grainger Winkler . Louis Winkler would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
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Admission Date: 02/08/2008
Location: Broad River
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Appellant kidnapped and sexually assaulted Rebekah Grainger Winkler (Victim) on October 10, 2005, five months before Victim was murdered.2 That evening, Appellant’s car was spotted behind the Seacoast Medical Center (Seacoast). Victim’s car was found off the road in some trees and appeared to have been wrecked. There was blood on both of Victim’s car seats, around the center console, and on the interior panel of the passenger’s side door. The Horry County Police Department activated its dog team in an attempt to locate two missing persons. Victim was later found next to Stephen’s Crossroads, which is where the magistrate’s complex and library is located.
Phyllis Richardson (Richardson) arrived at the parking lot at Stephen’s Crossroads around 7:30 a.m. on October 11, 2005, and saw a woman walking in the parking lot being followed by a man. Richardson noted the woman looked distraught and was acting confused, and that the man’s hands were in the air as if he were raging and irritated. Shortly after Richardson entered her office, she saw the woman from the parking lot on the phone in her office building. The woman’s hair was matted and tangled with some bald spots. Richardson later learned the woman making the call was Victim. Curtis Thompson was the first officer to arrive at the building, and noticed some of Victim’s hair looked like it had been ripped out, and she had black eyes, abrasions, and other scratches.
Victim was transported to Seacoast by EMS where Lisa Gore (Gore), a nurse at Seacoast, tended to Victim and noted her injuries to the left eye, some swelling in the jaw area, bruising around the neck, a fractured nose, an upper lip injury, redness under her right eye, corneal abrasions, multiple bruises and contusions, a bite mark to the face, and a large amount of hair removed from her head. A sexual assault kit was collected from Victim. The DNA found in the rectal and vaginal swabs from the sexual assault kit matched Appellant’s DNA.
On October 11, 2005, Louis Winkler was arrested for criminal sexual conduct, first degree, assault and battery with intent to kill, and kidnapping. Bond was initially denied; however, at a second bond hearing, Appellant’s bond was set at $150,000 and he was required to wear an electronic monitor while out on bond. At a third bond hearing, Appellant’s bond was amended to allow him to remove his electronic monitor for two hours so he could seek employment between the hours of 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Appellant was out of jail on bond on the day Victim was murdered.
At around 5:30 p.m. March 6, 2006, Louis Winkler kicked in the door to Victim’s condominium. Appellant knocked Victim’s son, Jonathan G. (Jonathan), onto the ground and then shot Victim once in the face at point blank range. According to the forensic pathologist who conducted Victim’s autopsy, death occurred instantly. Appellant then walked over and pointed the gun at Jonathan. Shortly thereafter, Appellant left the condominium.
Louis Winkler hid in the woods for two weeks. When police apprehended Appellant,3 they recovered a Jennings .380 pistol from his right front pants pocket. Five live rounds were found in the pistol, but there was not a live round in the port. During a full search of Appellant, police recovered eighteen rounds of .380 ammunition, a guard lock blade knife, and a wallet. In the wallet, there was a newspaper clipping about the shooting and murder.
Louis Winkler was tried and found guilty of murder, first-degree burglary, and assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. At trial, the State sought to establish two statutory aggravating circumstances: (1) the murder was committed during the commission of a burglary; and (2) the murder was of a witness or potential witness committed at any time during the criminal process for the purpose of impeding or deterring prosecution of any crime. S.C.Code Ann. § 16-3-20(C)(a)(1)(c), (C)(a)(11) (2003 & Supp.2009). The jury recommended that Louis Winkler be sentenced to death.