Man handed 3 life sentences after molesting 4-year-old girl and nearly beating her mother to death just days after murdering his ex
The court was stunned when prosecutors revealed that Evans had confessed to killing his 39-year-old girlfriend, Sharon Nannette Hayden, just days before the Feb 2018 kidnapping
A South Carolina man who kidnapped a four-year-old girl from Johns Island and nearly beat her mother to death will now spend the rest of his life in prison.
In February 2018, the 38-year-old Thomas Lawton Evans Jr. kidnapped a young girl and took her across state lines before sexually assaulting her. After his arrest in Mississippi, he confessed to almost beating her mother, Brittany Todd, to death and robbing the family, according to a WBTV report.
The court was stunned when prosecutors revealed that Evans had also confessed to killing his 39-year-old girlfriend, Sharon Nannette Hayden, just days before the February 2018 kidnapping.
He told FBI agents he stabbed Hayden during a heated argument at her Spartanburg County residence before chasing her into the woods, where she collapsed, according to prosecutors. Hayden's body was never recovered after Evans assumed she had died, thereby he wasn't charged in her death.
Federal Judge Norton, who presided over the hearing on Tuesday, ordered Evans out of the courtroom saying, "He’s a sorry excuse for a human being, get him out of here."
"Nothing in my life runs the same in my family like before February 13," said Brittany Todd, as she faced her attacker in court on Tuesday.
Following the ordeal, the survivor had to spend a week in the surgical unit, where she had three surgeries. Her medical costs have come up close to $361,000, according to Brittany's husband Kevin Todd. "I couldn't care for my kids for four months," she said. "You [Evans] planned evil against me, but I truly believe God spared your life and my life. I will never get back what I lost, but I'm moving forward."
Four-year-old Heidi Todd was found safe in Alabama more than 24 hours after she was reported missing from her home. Kevin, who was also present in court, is a member of the Coast Guard. He had left for duty just two days prior to the attack.
In the months following the attack, Kevin admitted he had more hatred than ever. "I mentally went into an evil space and wanted to do terrible things to Thomas Evans," he said. The embattled husband and father has been fearing for his family ever since the attack and has been unable to deploy for special assignments.
However, Kevin asserted that his four-year-old daughter loves school and doesn't think about the "bad guy" because of the family's faith in God and their personal grit. He also added that their bond has grown stronger than ever after the incident. "Mr. Evans, you did not win," he said, looking Evans in his eyes. "My ultimate goal is to forgive you."
After listening to the comments made in the courtroom, Evans' attorney said he was "stunned and overwhelmed" and couldn't bring words to the courtroom to console them. Meanwhile, Judge David Norton said this was the single worse offense he has seen in his 29-year long career. "This was random, brutal and senseless," he said.
Norton did not hold back against Evans in court. He underscored the fact that Evans had committed the crime just two weeks after serving nine years in prison and said he does not have respect for the law.
While in prison, Evans had 11 major incidents with other inmates. Solicitor Scarlett Wilson addressed a press conference right after the hearing and said everyone involved in the case was satisfied with the verdict.
"From the beginning, since the child was missing, everyone pulled together to search and find her, including from around the country," she said. "Things could've ended much differently had the people who saw her not made a call."
She went on to say that the Todd family inspired her to "dig deep and move forward". Speaking of forgiveness, she said it was still a work in progress. Also speaking at the press conference was the child's mother, Brittany, who said that the impact of Charleston law enforcement, the FBI, and MUSC on her family was overwhelming.
According to her, the family will now be able to find some closure and move on to the next chapter of their lives. "(She) will be happy in kindergarten, take dance classes," she said. "We can move forward and I'm excited about where 'forward' is going to take us."