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Prosecutor seeks death in South Carolina deputy's killing

Solicitor Barry Barnette's spokesperson said Friday that a trial date will be set 30 days from Thursday.

SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. — A South Carolina prosecutor says he will seek the death penalty for a 63-year-old man accused of killing a sheriff’s deputy in what authorities described as an ambush.

Seventh Judicial Circuit Solicitor Barry Barnette notified the state Thursday of his intention to ask jurors to sentence Duane Heard of Spartanburg to death if he is convicted of murder, news agencies reported.

Heard is accused of killing 25-year-old Spartanburg County Deputy Austin Derek Aldridge, who was among deputies responding to a domestic disturbance call the afternoon of June 21 in a subdivision west of Spartanburg.

A trial date will be set 30 days from Thursday, Murray Glenn, Barnett's spokesperson, said Friday.

He said the notice was served on Thursday to Heard, who is in custody — Glenn would not say where.

“As far as I know, he does not have an attorney,” Glenn said.

Sheriff's Lt. Kevin Bobo said in June that after the shooting, the suspect drove off and tried to evade a traffic stop, wrecking his vehicle. He allegedly ran into the woods before being wounded in an exchange of gunfire.

Aldridge, a Greenville County native, graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy in 2019 and began working for the sheriff's office that April. He married five months later; his wife, Jessica Link Aldridge, is expecting their first child in February 2023.

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