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S.C. man sentenced to death in murders of 2 law officers

By MEG KINNARD, Associated Press Writer

ABBEVILLE, S.C. — A man convicted of gunning down two law enforcement officers during a dispute about his family's land was sentenced to death Wednesday a little more than an hour after jurors began deliberating.

Steven Bixby, 39, showed no reaction as he was condemned for the murders of sheriff's Sgt. Danny Wilson and State Constable Donnie Ouzts.

Bixby and his parents were upset that the state wanted a 20-foot strip of land near their home to widen a highway. Authorities said he and his father, who also is charged with murder, threatened to attack any officer who set foot on their property.

Wilson was shot on Dec. 8, 2003, while standing on the front porch of Bixby's parents' home. Authorities say Ouzts, who arrived to check on Wilson once radio contact with the officer was lost, was shot as he stepped out of his patrol car.

Defense attorneys declined to comment on the jury's decision but said they planned to appeal.

Bixby joins 59 other inmates awaiting execution in South Carolina, which allows death row inmates to choose between electrocution or lethal injection.

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