A man identified because of his "blind eye" by a beating victim was sentenced to 25 years in prison late Wednesday after a jury found the attacker guilty of kidnapping and other charges.
Antoine Lakida Hightower, 40, of Lancaster, was found guilty late Wednesday after a two-day trial on charges of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, burglary and kidnapping from the August 2017 incident at the Hillside Inn in Rock Hill, court records show.
The victim was able to identify his attacker from the suspect's "blind eye," said Chris Epting, the 16th Circuit senior assistant solicitor who prosecuted Hightower along with assistant solicitor Dan Porter. Hightower's left eye is opaque, Epting said.
The victim had told York County Sheriff's Office deputies at the time of the incident he didn't know the man “with dreadlocks and a bad eye."
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"The suspect's 'blind eye' that was a unique characteristic to him was very important in identifying the suspect to law enforcement," Epting said.
Hightower fled the scene after the incident but was taken into custody after the attack by police who found Hightower walking along Anderson Road in Rock Hill.
Video surveillance from the motel's common areas played for jurors in court was crucial in corroborating the identification of Hightower as the assailant, Epting said.
The victim was scarred and still has medical problems with balance months after the beating, Epting said.
The victim was beaten bloody with a gun and then a brick after Hightower broke into the victim's room, Epting said. The gun, later identified as a BB gun, was broken over the victim's body as Hightower repeatedly hit the victim, Epting said. Hightower then used a brick to smash the victim in the head, Epting said.
"Witnesses to the crime described the beating as merciless," Epting said.
Hightower has a previous convictions for bank robbery in North Carolina for which he served 41 months in prison, court records show.
Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065, @AndrewDysHerald