HEIGHT: 3’6” (107 cm)
WEIGHT: 65 lbs (29 kg)
MOLES: Corner of mouth, below neck
DENTAL: Double tooth upper on side
Last seen with unidentified male, getting into a car.
MISSING SINCE: July 22, 1993
MISSING FROM: Dillon, South Carolina
Dillon Police Department
CRIME STOPPERS 888-CRIME-SC
Missing Person’s Unit 843-774-0051
Harmon Found Guilty of Kidnapping, Not Guilty of Murder In 1993 Disappearance O Shakeima Cabbagestalk
October 14, 2008
Shakeima Cabbagestalk was described as the apple of her grandmother’s eye, a vibrant, active young girl who loved home, church, school and her family. On July 22, 1993, she became a missing child never to be seen or heard from again.
While police are no closer to knowing where the Cabbagestalk’s body is 15 years later, her stepfather was held responsible for her disappearance in a Dillon County Court on Thursday.
Sam Harmon was found guilty of the kidnapping of the 10-year-old Cabbagestalk after a nearly week long trial, but not guilty of her murder. Judge Michael Nettles sentenced Harmon to 12 years with credit for time served; however, since this falls under old sentencing guidelines, the Herald is told that Harmon could be eligible for parole in as little as 10 months. As the trial continued on Wednesday, the State concluded its case with the testimony of John Henry ‘Tang’ Cabbagestalk, Apollo Ellerbe, and Shakeima’s brother, Kenneth Brown.
On Wednesday afternoon, the defense opened their case.
Harmon chose not to testify on his own behalf.
Tracy Gurley, a cousin of Sam Harmon who now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, testified for the defense. He described seeing a man wearing a green bandanna with a white Pinto with NC tags at the home of Sam and Shirley Harmon and said he saw Cabbagestalk get into the car with some other children.
Gurley said when they realized Shakeima was missing, he and Harmon went looking for the white Pinto at various clubs. He said they went to a club in Fairmont, NC, looking for the white Pinto and shot pool there. They also went to a third club in North Carolina looking for the white Pinto. They never found it.
Closing arguments in the case were made on Thursday morning.
Rick Hoefer, one of the attorneys for the defense, emphasized that the state had the burden of proof.
He said that Cabbagestalk may be alive and living with someone else or somewhere else under a different name.
Hoefer said the state was trying to get the jury to believe that Harmon killed the child because she made an allegation of abuse (Note: DSS made no finding in this matter and it was not proven.) or because she put footprints on his car while picking apples.
Hoefer said from the beginning, Harmon has always denied having anything to do with Cabbagestalk’s disappearance and has always cooperated the best he could.
He pointed out that the store clerk said it was not unusual for Harmon to bring the children to the store.
Hoefer also posed the question about why Cabbagestalk’s biological father was not called and questioned and asked if it was possible that she was with him.
He asked if there was any evidence that the friend she said she was going to visit in Jacksonville was found and if Cabbagestalk ever arrived there. Hoefer also posed questions whether she could have been taken by the man with the green bandanna and the white Pinto.
He said the State had their minds made up early on and questioned whether they could have or should have done more.
Robert Lee, another attorney for the defense, also made a closing argument. He also tried to cast doubt in the minds of the jury.
In his closing argument, Deputy Solicitor Kernard Redmond said serious things were at stake; justice for the defense, justice for the family of Shakeima Cabbagestalk, and justice for Shakeima herself.
Redmond thanked the defense for putting Tracy Gurley on the stand and said his testimony was very telling. He said the pair went club-hopping the night Cabbagestalk was missing and showed no concern whatsoever about finding her. Redmond said this may the most telling thing in this trial.
Redmond also pointed to the testimony of Apollo Ellerbe, who said Harmon told him that they didn’t have a body and they weren’t going to find one.
Redmond talked about all of the people who saw Cabbagestalk leave with Harmon that day and that it was the last time she was seen.
“Why would they lie about the last time they saw her?” Redmond asked, “Who has a reason to lie?”
Redmond said the key question in this case was ‘Who has the most to gain by lying about Shakeima’s disappearance?’
Redmond said Harmon lied about leaving the Turning Point store with the victim.
He also told the jury that there are plenty of reasons that they would never have a body. He said the defendant’s refrain has been “no body, no evidence.”
“To say this is a sad case would be a severe understatement” said Redmond.
He said he thought that everyone could agree that after 15 years the chances that Cabbagestalk would come walking back have diminished. Redmond said just because they didn’t have a body didn’t mean they didn’t have a case.
He said it was time justice got served for her, her family and the defendant.
During the sentencing, Redmond said that to say that this was an event that had uprooted this family was an understatement. He said one of the reasons he was pleased that they were able to try the case was because Shakeima’s grandmother, Clara Cabbagestalk, was in her sunset years and he was glad to bring justice and closure for her and Shakeima’s soul. He asked for the maximum allowable sentence of 30 years. He reviewed Harmon’s record which included an accessory after the fact of manslaughter conviction from 1997.
Hoefer said during the sentencing that Harmon had never been anything but cooperative and had the opportunity to enter a plea, but did not, because he said he didn’t do it. He called Harmon a calm, polite deferring individual and said “my heart breaks for him right now.” He said there was no minimum sentence and asked the judge to consider the low end of sentencing.
Harmon chose to make a statement. He said his sympathy went out to the family. He said he never hurt a child in his life. Harmon said they said justice had been served, but that it had not been.
After hearing from everyone, the judge issued his sentence.