Indictment lead photo

A list of employees of the Richland County Prosecutor's Office.

MANSFIELD – Linda Sweat was 5-foot-4 and weighed 64 pounds when police found her dead in her upstairs bedroom on Oct. 23.

Her daughter, Jennifer Sweat, allegedly allowed the 77-year-old woman to starve to death, according to the Richland County Prosecutor’s Office, which detailed the case and other recent indictments during a meeting with the media Wednesday.

Murders, rapes among 72 cases of November grand jury indictments

Sweat, 44, was indicted by a grand jury in November on two counts of murder, two counts of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of failure to provide for an impaired person.

"Those counts stem from an incident when Mansfield police officers responded to a 9-1-1 call regarding a possible deceased person at 387 Second Ave. in Mansfield," said assistant prosecutor Brandon Pigg.

Pigg said officers went to the residence and spoke with Jennifer Sweat and then found Linda Sweat deceased in the bedroom.

An autopsy was done after officers were concerned about the dead woman’s appearance.

"One of the features in the autopsy is what doctors refer to as global emaciation (severe malnourishment and starvation)," Pigg said. "The allegation is Linda Sweat was under the care of Jennifer Sweat for the period (from) Jan. 1, 2018 until Oct 23 in that she failed to provide for her mother, who was bed-ridden. Our allegation (is) the failure to provide led to her death and is the basis for our other charges."

Pigg also discussed the indictment of Shawn Garrad, 28, charged with aggravated trafficking in heroin, aggravated trafficking in drugs (two counts), aggravated possession of drugs (two counts), trafficking in drugs, improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle, receiving stolen property and carrying in a concealed weapon.

The charges carry $11,898 in forfeitures and gun specifications.

Pigg said prosecutors allege the Comfort Inn in Bellville were evicting Garrad and others for smoking in their hotel rooms in March.

Officers arrived and observed a man named Robert Weaver, initiating a traffic stop. During that traffic stop, it is alleged that those items (drugs) were found. There was a subsequent review that puts Garrad in the area, authorities said.

Pigg said drugs involved include heroin, methamphetamine, retinol and suboxone.

"He wasn't in the vehicle. It is alleged he was at the hotel where these drugs had been and was a part of the delivery of drugs to that hotel," Pigg said.

Pigg said Garrad could face around 25 years in prison.

Triston Tolle, 30, was indicted for rape and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.

"This is a situation where the defendant is accused of sexual crimes against a juvenile victim," Pigg said. "The allegation that those acts occurred on May 27, 2017, in Shelby."

Pigg said the allegation is the victim had been visiting mutual friends when the teenager was sexually assaulted.

"He is charged with alternative counts, those counts will merge so the maximum will be 11 years," Pigg said.

Markell Friend, 25, has been indicted with an attempted murder charge, firearm specification charges, improperly discharging a firearm at or near a prohibited area and forfeiture specifications.

"The charges stem from an incident on Dec. 14, 2018 on Burns Street in Mansfield," Pigg said. "The victim, Adrian McKnight, was approached by the defendant and another unidentified man. An argument ensued. Both the defendant and unidentified man began firing. The victim ran into the apartment and the defendant and unidentified man kept firing, that's where the (improperly discharging a firearm at or near a prohibited area) comes from.

Pigg said the argument was about a girlfriend. The victim was not hit by gunfire. The maximum sentence in the case is 14 years, Pigg said.

Brian Hurst, 53, was indicted with five counts of rape, three counts of sexual battery, gross sexual imposition and two counts of pandering obscenity. Pigg added the crimes were against a minor.

"All of these charges stem from incidents between Dec. 1, 2013 to Feb. 13, 2018," Pigg said. "The allegation is during that time, this defendant sexually assaulted the juvenile victim at various times."

Pigg added there were between four to five sexual assaults and the victim was a juvenile each time.

Suspicions came to light after friends and family close to the situation told police, Pigg said.

Brandon Dale Leroy Wilson, 19, of Mansfield was indicted on four counts of rape, two counts of kidnapping, and two counts of gross sexual imposition.

"Both are again, juvenile victims," Pigg said, "One of the victims is an acquaintance of the defendant and the other is someone he had contacted through Facebook."

Pigg added because of the nature of the juvenile sexual cases, he was limited as to what he could say about the cases.

Staff Reporter

Noah Jones is host to The Open Mic Podcast -- available on Apple Podcasts! He is the crime, education and music reporter for Richland Source. He is a native of St. Louis, Missouri and a giant Cardinals fan.

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