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Man guilty of second-degree murder in stabbing behind Greenville Walmart

A man charged with fatally stabbing another man behind a Walmart in Greenville in 2015 has been found guilty of second-degree murder.

Michael O'Neal was sentenced to 25-31 years in prison for killing 22-year-old Steven Rouse.

Police said it happened behind the Walmart Neighborhood Market near Park West Drive in October 2015.

The verdict provided some kind of closure to Rouse's family, who are still mourning.

"He didn't understand,” said Portia Rouse, Steven’s mother. “He couldn't understand what they were doing to him. It hurts. It’s hard."

O'Neal must also pay back $5,000 in restitution to the victim's family.

"It’s on us to convince the jury what their version of their facts is actually how it played out,” Caroline Webb, assistant district attorney. “The fact that we got a murder conviction indicates we were successful in doing that."

O'Neal and a second suspect, Curtis Wade, were accused of stabbing Rouse to death after chasing the man through a field, running from Park West Drive to the Walmart. Rouse later died at Vidant.

"I just want him to understand the severity,” said Portia Rouse. “They tormented Steven, the tormented him. It was so cruel. And he had Asperger's autism. He was kind and sweet and gentle."

Once a guilty verdict was announced, the state argued there were factors which should lengthen his time locked up. The jury agreed. This includes the crime being particularly "heinous, atrocious and cruel".

The family says they are not mad at O’Neal, but rather are praying for him that his life eventually turns around.

"I knew that God was with my son and the Lord was with him,” said Portia Rouse. I know he was saved and I know as he said that he'd already forgiven them for what they did."

The family tells me they'll remember Steven every single day by his smile and how much he cared for each of his family members.

Curtis Wade also faces a felony murder charge.

His case is being handled separately, and he will be back in court in early June. 

There are two other suspects, Taylor and Chenitra Gramby, who also face charges in relation to the case.

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