By: Natalie Caula
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Thomas Waring waited for nearly two hours outside a Charleston County courtroom Friday to watch the man accused of killing his 28-year-old daughter be jailed for the crime.
Ethan Mack, of James Island, was scheduled to be sentenced at 10 A.M. but the hearing ran late Friday, beginning at noon.
The hallway outside courtroom 4D was packed full of the victim's family members, friends, and spectators for the case that made national headlines.
Once the courtroom rows were filled, Ethan Mack walked inside in shackles bearing the Department of Corrections uniform. He's been jailed since his trial in October when he was convicted and sentenced 15 years for obstruction of justice and forgery, those charges stemming from the death investigation of Kate Waring. He was tried for murder during that trial but it was a hung jury for that indictment.
The 28-year-old woman went missing in June 2009. She was last seen having dinner at a Downtown restaurant with Ethan Mack and Heather Kamp. For months the Waring family searched for their daughter reaching out to the press, even hiring a team of private investigators.
Four months after their daughter disappeared, private investigator Bobby Minter discovered the skeletal remains of Kate Waring in a wooded area of Wadmalaw Island. Co-defendant Heather Kamp pointed him there.
Both Kamp and Mack were arrested and charged with murder. Since then, the case has been a roller coaster. Kamp pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced 45 years. Solicitor Scarlett Wilson voided that after she said Kamp lied to them in the investigation leading up to Mack's October trial. Then, Kamp took the stand and testified in the case and pointed the finger at Mack as the killer. She told the jury she and Mack brought Waring back to their James Island apartment after dinner that night. She says they dared Waring to get into a suitcase and Mack began tazing her once she was in it. She claims Mack covered her face with a pillow then hit her over the head repeatedly with a wine bottle until she became unconscious. Then she says the two dragged her into the bathtub full of water. She also admitted to helping Mack dump the body.
Heather Kamp's testimony wasn't enough though to convict Mack. Two jurors held out on a guilty verdict and he was jailed for the two other charges.
"When Ms. Waring's body was found, we had no cause of death, no murder charge. We had evidence that Ms. Waring was going to a party in the woods and her remains were recovered there. It was only through our investigation that we were able to build a circumstantial case and obtain indictments for murder," Wilson said Friday.
With Kamp's plea deal off the table, Kamp appeared before a judge last week and pleaded guilty but mentally ill to murder. She has not been sentenced yet but Solicitor Wilson says she expects it will happen this month.
Kamp's attorney Frank Cornely says no negotiations have been made with the solicitor's office in regards to her sentence. Cornely wouldn't estimate what a judge may sentence his client.
"I'm thrilled as Miss Kamp that her cooperation was instrumental in getting Mr. Mack to plead guilty so that the Waring family could put this matter behind them," Cornely said.
Thomas Waring told Judge Jefferson Friday he was pleased Mack was now accepting responsibility for his actions.
"His actions also have the beneficial effect that neither our family and friends nor his family and friends will have to endure the ordeal of a retrial of the case," Waring said.
But, Mack told the judge he didn't agree with all the facts Solicitor Wilson presented in the case, but he thought they have enough evidence to convict him, called an Alford plea. Mack also turned back and apologized to Thomas Waring.
"My deepest condolences to the family of Kate Waring for the loss of a daughter, for the loss of a sister, for the loss of a grandchild, for the loss of a loved one," Mack said.
Shortly after, Mack was transferred to Perry Correctional Institution. Solicitor Wilson says this deal was the right decision.
"In a case like this we would want the max in a murder charge but because of the weakness in our evidence the unreliability of our only witness, this was the smart thing to do," Wilson said.
Check out our blog below for more details from today's hearing.