brandon council

Brandon Michael Council

A jury found Brandon Council guilty of two counts in relation to a deadly robbery at a CresCom Bank in 2017.

The Wilson, North Carolina, man’s trial in federal court began last week in Florence.

He was charged with gunning down Donna Major and Katie Skeen during a robbery at a CresCom Bank in Conway on Aug. 21, 2017. Major and Skeen both worked at the bank on 16th Avenue. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

After hearing from the prosecution and the defense, the 12-person jury deliberated for less than an hour Tuesday morning before finding Council guilty of armed bank robbery resulting in death and use and carry of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence in a manner that constitutes murder.

Now that Council has been convicted, the trial has reached the penalty phase, which gives another chance for the prosecution and defense to present evidence.

Jurors will consider different factors and are tasked with deciding whether Council is sentenced to either death or life in prison without the possibility of release.

During the penalty phase, Cathy Lambert — who works at United Community Bank — testified she was a former employee of the CresCom Bank where Major and Skeen worked.

She said both of them were friends of hers and that the two cared deeply for their families. Skeen was married and had two kids. Major was also married with three kids and had three grandchildren.

She described employees of the “small” 16th Avenue branch as close-knit.

Lambert said the bank employees were taught to follow a perpetrator’s instructions in case of a robbery.

She bawled as she spoke of the day of the incident.

Having been in Columbia that day, she recalled how she sent text messages to Major and Skeen asking if they were all right.

Lambert and Gracie McClary — a current CresCom Bank employee whose job includes security work and who was also a co-worker of Major and Skeen — both spoke on how the murders affected them. McClary said following the killings, there was an outpouring of sympathy from the community.

Check back for updates.

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