Columbia man found guilty in 2015 murder of Midlands woman

James Heyward.JPG

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH)-- A Richland County jury found James Heyward aka Abdul Muslim guilty of the 2015 murder of Alice Tollison.

Heyward has been found guilty of murder, burglary in the first degree, armed robbery, two counts of kidnapping, 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, Heyward broke into 76-year-old Alice Tollison's home at 7818 Edgewater Drive. Once inside he demanded Ms. Tollison's money and jewelry.

During the robbery, Tollison's 8-year-old great-granddaughter entered the room. Heyward told the minor to sit in a kitchen chair before he placed the gun on the kitchen table and forced the young girl to watch as he strangled her great-grandmother.

After killing Ms. Tollison, Heyward placed the child in a hallway closet and ransacked the home searching for more money and jewelry.

Eventually, he took the girl out of the closer and bound her hands and feet together with wires before forcing her back into the closet.

Ultimately the child was able to get to a phone while her hands and feet were tied and call 911 for help.

When Richland County deputies 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 home. The Richland County Sheriff's Department Forensic Laboratory also found Heyward's DNA under Tollison's fingernails and on her neck.

During the six-day trial, the 8-year-old testified, telling the judge how she watched Heyward kill her great-grandmother in front of her. She also identified him as the perpetrator.

Heyward was sentenced to life in prison without parole, consecutive to 70 years in prison.

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