Steven Bixby was sentenced to death by the State of South Carolina for a double murder. According to court documents Arthur Bixby, his wife Rita and his son Steven Bixby were involved in a standoff with police that left two people dead: Abbeville County Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Daniel “Danny Boy” Wilson and State Constable Donnie Ouzts. Steven Bixby would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
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Steven Bixby 2021 Information
Admission Date: 02/21/2007
Location: Broad River
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On the morning of December 4, 2003, SCDOT officials first met the Bixby family after discovering someone had tampered with the surveyor’s stakes on the family’s property. SCDOT Construction Superintendent Glen McCaffrey approached the Bixby home to discuss the road widening project. McCaffrey was accompanied by fellow SCDOT employees Dale Williams and Mike Hannah.
Superintendent McCaffrey showed the construction plans to Appellant, his mother, Rita Bixby, and father, Arthur Bixby, and attempted to persuade them that the SCDOT held a right of way across their property. The Bixbys responded with threats of violence and claimed they would fight to the death if anyone tried to do any construction work on the property.1 Right of Way Agent Williams told them that SCDOT officials would have to get the Sheriff involved, to which the Bixbys responded that they would kill law enforcement officials if anyone “trespassed” on their property.
SCDOT officials McCaffrey, Williams, and Hannah went to the Sheriff’s department, reported the encounter, and conveyed that there was a “serious situation” at the Bixby home. Because these men feared the Bixbys’ threats, they requested that an officer be assigned to mediate the situation.
Friday, December 5, 2003
Around noon on Friday, December 5, 2003, Appellant discussed the road construction project with Dr. Mark Horton, a dentist whose office was near the Bixby home. Steven Bixby and Dr. Horton talked about dealings with the SCDOT. Horton told Steven Bixby that he had hired an attorney and that Dr. Horton, his lawyer, and the SCDOT had set a time to discuss the construction’s impact on Horton’s property. Describing his conversation with Appellant, Horton testified as follows:
․ first he told me that he was from New Hampshire and he said that, you know, their motto was something like, you know, if I can’t-I’d rather be dead if I can’t be free, something like that. And at one point he said that, I’ve got something that’s going to blow this whole project out of the water, and I took that to mean that he had some information or something. But he was becoming somewhat agitated and I kept telling him that, well, I thought it best if he’d get an attorney and look over his situation and see if they could resolve it. So basically I wished him well and told him that you need to get an attorney, that I had to get one, and I hoped that things would get resolved. But you know, he did seem agitated and he said at one point I think that, they’ll take my land over my cold, dead body.
At approximately 3:30 p.m., SCDOT Superintendent McCaffrey contacted Rita Bixby, informing her that he had documents concerning the right of way. Also on the phone with McCaffrey were Williams, Hannah, and Joe McCurry, a fellow SCDOT employee. McCaffrey requested that the Bixbys and SCDOT officials meet the following Monday (December 8, 2003) to discuss the right of way. Rita responded by saying, “Anything you got is lies.” Although eventually agreeing to the December 8, 2003 meeting, Rita said that if the men wanted to show her the documents they could meet her at the family’s home in five minutes. Three of the SCDOT officials left to meet with Rita. Williams, however, refused to go because he feared the situation might become violent.
When the SCDOT officials arrived at the Bixby home, Rita told them that the documents were forgeries and threatened that her family “would fight till the last breath and there would be hell to pay.” She demanded that no construction take place. McCaffrey said they would have to come back with a deputy. Rita replied that the Sheriff’s department had no authority over them on private property.
Sunday, December 7, 2003
On the evening of December 7, 2003, Appellant, Steven Bixby went to a social gathering at the home of Alane Taylor, his former girlfriend. Appellant told Alane, “Tomorrow is the day.” Alane asked Steven to explain and he said, “We have all the guns loaded in my dad’s house and if anybody comes in the yard we will shoot and if the shooting starts I won’t come out alive.” Steven also said that this had been planned for some time and that his mother Rita planned to take his brother to Steven’s apartment while Steven and Arthur stayed at the house. Alane attempted to talk Steven out of his planned violence.
Additionally, while at Alane’s house, Appellant told Alane’s daughter, Dana Newton, he intended to shoot law enforcement if they came on his parents’ property. Newton testified that Appellant said, “I will, I’ll blow their mother f* * * * * * heads off if they step one step onto my parent’s property. I will.”
Alane and Dana called Abbeville Deputy Barry New, a relative, and told him about Steven Bixby’s comments. They said they were concerned that harm would come to anyone that went to the Bixby home. Deputy New called his supervisor and left a message conveying the warnings.
Monday, December 8, 2003
At 8:30 a.m. on Monday, December 8, 2003, Deputy Wilson met with SCDOT officials McCaffrey, Williams, and Hannah to discuss SCDOT’s prior confrontation with the Bixbys and plan for that morning’s meeting with the family. After discussing the matter, Deputy Wilson headed straight to the Bixby home. SCDOT officials Williams and Hannah left shortly thereafter.
As Williams and Hannah approached the Bixby home in their vehicle, they noticed that Deputy Wilson’s car was in the driveway.2 However, Deputy Wilson was nowhere to be seen. Williams and Hannah drove past the Bixby home for fear that it was not safe. They drove past again and noticed that the blinds were closed but peep holes were cut into them. The third time they drove past the house they saw Appellant standing in the doorway holding a pistol in one hand and a rifle in the other.
At around 9:30 a.m., Appellant placed a phone call to his mother, Rita, who was at Appellant’s apartment with his brother. Appellant informed Rita that the shooting had begun. Rita placed phone calls to the Governor’s office, the Attorney General’s office, and Dr. Craig Gagon, a family friend and local chiropractor. Dr. Gagon went to the Bixby residence.
Arriving at the Bixby home at approximately 9:40 a.m., Dr. Gagon saw two law enforcement officers standing in the front yard of the Bixby home. He heard a shot come from the home and saw Constable Ouzts fall to the ground, mortally wounded. As news of the confrontation spread, several officers arrived and were able to retrieve Constable Ouzts’s body. Additionally, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) dispatched approximately fifty agents and tactical support.
After determining Rita’s whereabouts, David Alford, an investigator with the Abbeville County Sheriff’s Department, apprehended her at Appellant’s apartment and transported her to a temporary command center near the Bixby home. While at the command center, Rita refused to help Alford and the SLED agents diffuse the situation stating, “Why would I want to help you, I wanted to be inside with them today but they made me stay outside to tell the world why they died.” All other attempts to contact Appellant and his father inside the home were unsuccessful.
At approximately 7:30 p.m., SLED sent robots equipped with cameras toward the house where they were able to peer through a window. The cameras captured footage of Deputy Wilson, who was face down on the floor of the Bixbys’ living room with his hands cuffed behind him. He was dead. A team of officers entered the home and retrieved Deputy Wilson’s body, which was already stiff from rigor mortis.
At approximately 8:55 p.m., SLED sent another robot into the Bixby home. Arthur fired a shot at the robot, and he and Appellant began firing at the officers outside the house. The officers returned fire and shot tear gas into the home.
The gun fight continued until at approximately 9:25 p.m. when Appellant surrendered and notified police that Arthur was wounded. Again, a robot was sent into the house. Video transmitted by the robot confirmed that Arthur had been shot and was sitting on the bathroom floor surrounded by weapons. At approximately 11:00 p.m., Arthur crawled into the living room and surrendered to authorities.
In August 2004, Appellant was indicted by an Abbeville County Grand Jury on one count of conspiracy to commit murder, one count of kidnapping, two counts of murder, one count of possession of a firearm or knife during the commission of a violent crime, and twelve counts of assault with intent to kill. The State sought the death penalty for the murders of Deputy Wilson and Constable Ouzts.
A jury trial began on February 14, 2007. On February 18, 2007, the jury returned a verdict of guilty as charged on each count. At the end of the penalty phase, the jury recommended that Appellant be sentenced to death. The trial judge sentenced Appellant to death finding the evidence warranted the penalty and the sentence was not imposed as a result of prejudice, passion, or any other arbitrary factor.3