CresCom bank double murder suspect pleads not guilty to federal charges

Photo of Brandon Council from the Florence County Detention Center

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – The man charged for murdering two women during a bank robbery in Conway was in federal court in Florence Tuesday.

On September 22,  a federal grand jury in Columbia returned an indictment for Brandon Council for armed bank robbery resulting in death, use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence resulting in death of a person in such a manner to constitute murder and felon in possession of a firearm.

Tuesday, Council was arraigned on the indictment by a US Magistrate Judge in Florence. The judge told Council the purpose of the hearing was to ensure he understood the charges in the indictment and the possible punishment those charges could bring.

According to the US attorney general, Council could receive life without the possibility of parole or death for the first two federal charges.

Council told the judge he did understand the charges and the potential punishment.

Council’s lawyer asked the court to enter a not guilty plea.  Solicitor Jimmy Richardson says both the state and the feds expected him to plead not guilty because now, they have to prove Council committed the crimes.

Richardson says the federal government and the state are working together on this case, but he fully expects the federal trial to start first and as early as next year.

“I am very proud of what we’ve got in place and our ability to work well with the federal counterparts, and I think that what we’re doing in this case is probably the best advertisement we can have for our work with federal government,” Richardson said.

The accused double murderer once again waived his right to a detention hearing or bond hearing and also waived the right to read the indictment aloud in court.

In addition to the federal charges, Conway police charged Council with two counts of murder, one count of entering a bank with the intent to steal, grand larceny, armed robbery, possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, and felon in possession of a pistol for shooting Donna Major and Katie Skeen at the CresCom Bank on August 21.

During the last hearing, family members for Major and Skeen filled the first rows in the courtroom, but this week, no family members showed up in court.

Brandon Council is currently being held at the Florence County Detention Center.