Damien Lavar Ritter, a 28-year-old man from Estill, was convicted Monday by a Lexington County jury, after approximately 45 minutes of deliberation. Ritter was convicted for the Murder of Samir Atkins, 26, and Elzie Mack, 41.
The jury also returned convictions of Attempted Murder, Kidnapping, and Armed Robbery.
The trial began on Monday, with jury selection. The Honorable Frank R. Addy, Jr., presided over the trial and sentenced Ritter to two Life sentences in the South Carolina Department of Corrections on the murder charges, thirty (30) years on the attempted murder and kidnapping charges, and ten (10) years on the armed robbery charge.
Ritter will spend the rest of his life in prison and will not be eligible for parole. Solicitor Rick Hubbard stated, “Both of these men were executed with single gunshot wounds to the back of the head. The case was extremely hard-fought that took a great amount of team work. I am grateful for the hard work on the part of the prosecution team and law enforcement in bringing closure and justice to the victims’ families.”
Assistant Solicitor Sutania A. Fuller and Deputy Solicitor Shawn Graham handled the prosecution of this case for the Eleventh Circuit Solicitor’s Office. Lead Investigator Matt Deas of the West Columbia Police Department, along with other West Columbia detectives worked diligently to solve this case.
On July 5, 2018, Ritter traveled to West Columbia from his home in Estill, South Carolina. Security footage showed that Ritter left his home that morning driving his burgundy Chevy Tahoe wearing a red shirt, black pants, and Jordan 14 sneakers.
Once Ritter arrived in West Columbia, he contacted his cousin Samir Atkins from an unknown number. Moments later, Ritter arrived at Samir’s apartment on Glenn Street in West Columbia. The surviving victim testified during the trial that after Ritter and Samir entered the kitchen, he heard a single gunshot.
The surviving victim was then ordered at gunpoint to the kitchen and placed face down on the ground next to Samir’s body. Ritter and his unknown accomplices rummaged through the apartment. During this time, Samir’ friend, Elzie Mack, arrived at the apartment.
Elzie was also ordered to the ground in the kitchen near Samir’s lifeless body. The surviving victim testified at trial that he heard a man’s voice saying, “I’m getting down, I’m getting down” and then a second gunshot. He saw Ritter with the gun in his hand, pointing the gun at him, and pulling the trigger. The gun clicked but didn’t fire. The surviving victim grabbed Ritter and was able to escape from the apartment. During the struggle, the surviving victim was shot as well.