A Richland County Jury has found James Heyward a.k.a. Abdul Muslim guilty of Murder, Burglary in the First Degree, Armed Robbery, Kidnapping (2 counts), Assault and Battery First Degree, Pointing and Presenting a Firearm, and Unlawful Possession of a Handgun by a Person Convicted of a Crime of Violence.

On October 11, 2015, James Heyward a.k.a. Abdul Muslim broke into the home of 76 year old Alice Tollison at 7818 Edgewater Drive in Columbia. Once inside Heyward demanded Tollison’s money and jewelry. While Heyward was robbing Tollison, her 8 year old great-granddaughter entered the room. Heyward instructed the minor child to sit in a kitchen chair, placed the gun he was carrying on the table and then forced the child to watch as he strangled her great-grandmother.

After killing Tollison, Heyward placed the child in a hallway closet and ransacked the home searching for money and jewelry. He eventually removed the child from the closet and bound her hands and feet together with wires, and then he forced her back into a closet. Ultimately, the child was able to get to a phone while bound and call 911 for help. When officers of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department arrived the child was still bound and had to receive immediate medical treatment.

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department Crime Scene Unit processed the crime scene and found Heyward’s fingerprints throughout the Tollison home. The Richland County Sheriff’s Department Forensic Laboratory also found Heyward’s DNA under Tollison’s fingernails and on her neck.

The Honorable R. Knox McMahon presided over the six day trial which began in Richland County on June 26 and concluded on July 3. The child testified during the trial, telling the jury how she watched James Heyward kill her great-grandmother in front of her; and identified him as the perpetrator. Judge McMahon sentenced James Heyward to Life in Prison without Parole, consecutive to Life in Prison without Parole, consecutive to seventy (70) years in prison.