A South Carolina man who killed another player during a 2018 poker game has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. 54-year-old Andre N. Lyles, of Roebuck, pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter after shooting and killing Jamal M. Ross, of Spartanburg, at a December 27, 2018 game.
According to the police report on the murder, Lyles called 911 himself after the shooting. Officers found Ross’s body outside the home where the game had been held, south of Spartanburg. They then found Lyles in his nearby home on the same street, Lyles also shot himself in the hand during the deadly poker shooting. He was briefly transported to a local hospital for treatment, then arrested upon his release.
Initially, Lyles claimed that he’d shot Ross in self-defense in an escalating argument over a disputed poker pot. That tale proved not credible after investigators determined Ross had been shot in the back. After interviewing other players, the investigators also learned that the dispute erupted over a $50 poker pot.
Plea deal chopped 10 years from possible sentence
Lyles faced a murder charge before agreeing to plead to the lesser charge, though he’ll still have to serve 85% of his sentence, or 17 years, before being eligible for release. Had he not accepted the plea deal, he faced a sentence of 30 years to life. South Carolina is among the U.S. states with the harshest sentences for murder and other violent felonies; the 20-year term Lyles received is still longer than what he would have been sentenced to on the same charge in most other states.
Judge Kelly denied bond to Lyles at his initial arraignment following the shooting, and Lyles remained in a South Carolina state prison until his case was resolved. As a result, he earned credit with 938 days served, meaning the earliest he could be freed is in 2035.
He received the 20-year sentence on Friday from presiding Seventh Judicial Circuit Judge Keith Kelly in a Spartanburg County courtroom. Seventh Circuit Solicitor Barry Barnette, who led the county’s prosecution, announced Lyles’ sentencing in a brief statement.
Featured image source: foxcarolina.com