Reports: Suspect in deputy’s homicide dies in hospice care

ROCK HILL, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina man accused of killing a sheriff’s deputy in June has died in hospice care.

Duane Heard died Friday in Rock Hill, new outlets reported, citing the Spartanburg County coroner.

Heard was charged with murder in the death of 25-year-old Spartanburg County Deputy Austin Derek Aldridge, who was among deputies responding to a domestic disturbance call on June 21 west of Spartanburg.

When Aldridge knocked on Heard’s door after a woman reported that Heard assaulted her, Heard came out and shot Aldridge in the head, authorities have said. They described it as an ambush.

Officials said Heard then stole Aldridge’s gun, keys and electric stun gun and fled. Aldridge tried to evade a traffic stop by pretending to surrender, then wrecked his vehicle, running into the woods while repeatedly exchanging gunfire with deputies, authorities said. The Spartanburg County Coroner’s Office said Heard was shot twice before his capture.

Prosecutors had said they would seek the death penalty against Heard. He had been receiving treatment for his injuries until he was discharged and booked into the York County jail on Oct. 20.

The coroner said while in custody, Heard’s health deteriorated and he was taken into hospice care.

Aldridge had been a deputy for three years. His widow, Jessica Link Aldridge, was pregnant when Aldridge died and scheduled to deliver in February 2023.

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