Grant Case Sparks National Debate

Juvenile Justice, Admit Processes Questioned

A juvenile decision is not intended to bepunitive but rehabilitative, he added. "Itshouldn't ruin the rest of their lives," saidSwerling.

Haunted by the Past

Although the details of Grant's case in SouthCarolina were ordered sealed by Family Court JudgeMarc Westbrook, the memory of Grant's crimepersists.

Then an honors student at Lexington MiddleSchool, Grant was charged with murder after herolder sister found the body of their mother,Dorothy Mayfield, 42, on September 13, 1990.

Grant's sentencing came in January 1991, onlythree months after the murder, but the case isstill remembered in the sleepy hamlet ofLexington, population 6,000, seat of Lexington the midlands of South Carolina.


In an interview yesterday Lexington Co.Solicitor Donald V. Myers, who prosecuted Grant,said he is still horrified by the crime.

"If you call beating a woman's head to a bloodypulp 13 times with a lead crystal chandelier thensticking a knife through her neck to the spinalcord brutal, I'd say that's pretty brutal," Myerssaid.

Although Swerling, Grant's defense attorney,argued that the defendant had suffered throughyears of extreme emotional abuse under analcoholic mother, Myers said Grant struck hermother following an argument over Grant'srelations with a boyfriend, Jack Hook.

"Her mother forbade her from seeing theboyfriend, the boyfriend would slip into the houseevery night after [her mother] went to sleep,"Myers said. Hook, who attempted to help Mayfield'sdeath appear to be a suicide by inserting acarving knife in the dead woman's neck, pleadaccessory to the murder and served nearly a yearin a juvenile corrections facility.

But Swerling said Lexington residents ralliedaround the then-14-year-old A-student, contendingthat Grant had acted in self-defense.

"It was a highly publicized issue, thecommunity became very sympathetic to her, becauseof the environment she was in," Swerling saidFriday. "The community was very impressed with hercapabilities" as a student.

But Myers maintained that Grant was remorselessand a threat to the community.

"[Investigators] always were concerned that shewas in full denial, that she was never acceptingresponsibility for what she did," Myers said."There appeared not to be much remorse."

But Dr. Harold C. Morgan, who was hired bySwerling to conduct a psychiatric evaluation ofGrant, said she was completely normal, except forher abused childhood.

"Emotionally at least, it was similar to anabused spouse or battered wife kind of thing,although the battering was not physical," Morgansaid Friday.

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