State News

South Carolina Attorney General Announces First State Court Jury Trial Conviction For Human Trafficking: Defendant Gets Life Sentence

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announces that a Lancaster jury found 53-year-old David Hayden guilty of human trafficking and he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. It’s the first jury trial conviction for human trafficking in state court since South Carolina passed its human trafficking law in 2012, with amendments in 2018.

In March 2020, a 15-year-old girl ran away from a group home in Lancaster County.  The runaway was picked up by Hayden, a registered sex offender, and later became a victim of sex trafficking. Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General Heather S. Weiss and Assistant Attorney General Jerrod Fussnecker prosecuted this case.

Judge Paul Burch presided over the trial in Lancaster County, which ended Thursday. Hayden was convicted of human trafficking, criminal sexual conduct with a minor first degree, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

“Today, justice was served and I hope it sends a strong message to perpetrators of child sex trafficking in South Carolina,” said Attorney General Alan Wilson. “The prosecutors in my office will not hesitate to ensure these predators are held accountable, the victims’ stories are heard, and our communities are safer. I want to commend Heather Weiss and Jerrod Fussnecker and everyone else who worked tirelessly to bring this case to justice.”

In addition to the lead prosecutors, this case was supported by SC Attorney General’s Office Investigator Valerie Williams, Paralegal Whitney Malloy, Victim Advocate Juana Saavedra, former Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Preston Simpson, the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office, State Law Enforcement Division Special Agent Roshani Parikh and Homeland Security Investigations, who supported the digital forensics.  

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