St. Matthews Man With History of Violence Sentenced to More Than Six Years in Federal Prison for Firearm and Methamphetamine Possession

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA — Jerry Jarell McKnight, Jr., 28, of St. Matthews, was sentenced to more than six years in federal prison after pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Evidence presented in court showed that on January 6, 2019, around 11:00 P.M., an officer with the Santee Police Department observed a vehicle travelling on US-15 in Santee speeding and committing various traffic violations.  The officer conducted a traffic stop, and upon approaching the vehicle noticed the smell of marijuana emanating from the vehicle.  The officer conducted a search and recovered from McKnight, a passenger in the vehicle, methamphetamine packaged in numerous types of packaging consistent with distribution, a digital scale, and a loaded Springfield Armory .40 caliber pistol.  An analysis conducted by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) determined that McKnight’s DNA was on the firearm and its magazine, and McKnight appeared to make admissions related to the firearm and drug distribution on recorded jail calls.

Evidence presented also indicated that McKnight had numerous prior felony convictions, including two related to homicides and one related to an additional shooting, to include a 10-year sentence for assault and battery 1st degree (in which a person was shot in Orangeburg County), accessory after the fact of a felony (in which a person was shot and killed in Orangeburg County), and accessory after the fact of a felony (in which a person was shot and killed in Orangeburg County), as well as convictions related to drug possession, burglary, and shoplifting.

United States District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis sentenced McKnight to 77 months imprisonment to be followed by three years of court ordered supervision.  There is no parole in the federal system.  The Court revoked McKnight’s credit for acceptance of responsibility for conduct following his guilty plea, including numerous frivolous court filings and making claims inconsistent with acceptance of responsibility.

This case was prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime.  Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.  As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Santee Police Department, the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office, and SLED. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elliott B. Daniels prosecuted the case.