SPARTANBURG, S.C. – A South Carolina man who says he killed his ailing parents because they asked him to has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Stephen Belcher, 40, of Boiling Springs, pleaded guilty Thursday to voluntary manslaughter in his 69-year-old parents' deaths, The Herald-Journal of Spartanburg reported.
Belcher said his parents had asked him to kill them because of their health problems.
Belcher initially was charged with murder in the shooting deaths of Henrietta Green Belcher and William Edward Belcher. Their bodies were found Nov. 15, 2016. Investigators said they had been killed 10 days earlier.
"What my client did was not legal, but what my client did was merciful," defense attorney Doug Brannon said.
Belcher's wife, Vonda Belcher, said the couple moved from Georgia to the area to better take care of his parents.
"I ask for mercy. He felt like he was helping them," Vonda Belcher said in court.
Prosecutor Barry Barnette says the lesser charge was part of a plea deal. Circuit Judge Derham Cole gave Belcher a 10-year prison sentence.
Deborah Belcher, Stephen's sister, said he was better able to care for their parents than she could. He carried his mother when necessary, helping her get around the family's house, something Deborah could not do.
"I do understand it, and I forgive him, she said.
Stephen Belcher's older brother, David, also testified for him before the sentencing.
"My brother was guilty of loving my parents to a tragic end, David Belcher said. "I don't want Stephen to spend the rest of his life in prison."
Information from: Herald-Journal, http://www.goupstate.com/