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Man accused in shovel attack pleads guilty
Lovett Darrell
Darrell Lovett

An Effingham County man scheduled to go on trial this week for murder instead pled guilty to a lesser charge.

A jury had been selected for Darrell Lovett’s trial, which was scheduled to start Thursday, but Lovett pled guilty Monday to voluntary manslaughter. Superior Court Judge John R. Turner gave Lovett the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Lovett, 51, of Clyo, was accused of killing Arthur Scruggs III, 63, with a shovel on July 4, 2012. Authorities said he struck Scruggs several times with a trenching shovel after the two got into in an argument at a home on Sam Smart Road.

Lovett was indicted in September 2012 on three counts of murder, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of aggravated battery. Had the case gone to trial and Lovett been found guilty, he faced the possibility of life in prison.

Assistant District Attorney Brian Deal was satisfied with the outcome of the case, adding he sees “not very much” chance of Lovett serving less than the 20 years of his sentence.

“There was the element of some provocation that was associated with it,” Deal said. “That would have been (the defense’s) whole argument, that he responded to the provocation.”

Deputies were called to the house on Sam Smart Road at approximately 8 a.m. on July 4 on the report of an assault. According to Effingham County Sheriff’s reports, deputies found Scruggs inside the house. He was taken to Effingham Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Reports at the time indicated the two men were related and Scruggs may have been staying temporarily at the house.

An elderly woman who lived at the house died from natural causes earlier that morning.