Brandon Council

Brandon Michael Council

A federal jury Thursday sentenced Brandon Council to death.

That jury last week found the Wilson, North Carolina, man guilty of two counts — bank robbery resulting in death and use of a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime in a manner that constitutes murder — after he gunned down Katie Skeen and Donna Major during a robbery at a CresCom Bank on Aug. 21, 2017. The two women both worked at the bank on 16th Avenue in Conway.

Jurors were tasked with deciding if Council should be sentenced to either death or life in prison without the possibility of release. The jury, which consisted of eight women and four men, deliberated for a few hours Wednesday afternoon before being dismissed for the rest of the day by the judge.

After about an hour of consideration Thursday morning, their unanimous decision was announced to the court.

Council looked straight ahead as Judge R. Bryan Harwell read the jury’s verdict, delivered after several days of court proceedings, including juror selection and the roughly three week trial.

The Florence courtroom where the proceedings took place was relatively quiet Thursday, though some sniffles could be heard from a side of the room where Skeen and Major's loved ones sat.

Council read a statement he wrote, apologizing to the families. He said he would do anything to bring back the two “amazing” women if he could.

Major’s youngest daughter Katie MacRae wept as she described the hatred she’s felt toward Council, who seemed emotionless.

“You stole everything from me,” she said, adding she did not feel sorry or sad for him.

Her older sister and Major’s oldest daughter, Heather Turner, said a day hasn't gone by when she doesn’t hurt for her family ever since her mother was taken from them.

“I forgive you,” she told Council, describing the statement as the most difficult she’s ever made. Turner added while it would be easy for her to desire Council to go to hell, she did not wish that for him, calling him "a child of God."

Skeen’s mother Betty Davis told Council she wanted him to look at her. She reminded him of the pain he caused, mentioning how her grandsons Noah and River no longer have their mother.

Davis said Council is nothing in her life other than the person who murdered Major and her daughter.

“God will deal with you,” she said.

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