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SC man serving a life sentence for murder was released early. Now he’s going back to prison

A South Carolina man who had a previous life sentence reduced is heading back behind bars following new convictions, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

On Wednesday, 44-year-old Sumter County resident Martez Mandel Coleman was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

Coleman was convicted on charges of possession of a firearm and ammunition as a felon, possession with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl and a quantity of marijuana, according to the release.

Coleman is prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition based upon his 2001 federal convictions for murder and other crimes, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Coleman was also convicted on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of 50 grams or more of crack cocaine and five kilograms or more of cocaine.

He was also charged with possession with intent to distribute/distribution of crack cocaine, using/carrying a firearm during and in relation to drug trafficking crime, and causing the death of a person through the use of firearm, according to the release.

After being convicted in a jury trial, he was sentenced to life in prison, the U.S. Attorney said.

Later Coleman filed a motion for a reduced sentence pursuant to the First Step Act of 2018, and the court reduced his sentence in 2020 to 300 months imprisonment with five years of supervised release, according to the release. Coleman was released from federal prison in 2021 and was on federal supervised release when he was charged with the new crimes last year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

But on Oct. 10, 2022, a deputy with the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office conducted a traffic stop of a Mercedes after observing a traffic violation, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. When the deputy approached the vehicle, he smelled marijuana and saw a bag of what he believed to be narcotics on the center console, according to the release.

Coleman, the only person in the Mercedes, admitted to having marijuana, a loaded 9mm handgun. There were also several baggies of fentanyl and marijuana were found inside the vehicle, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

A drug analysis later showed that about 126 grams of fentanyl and approximately 47 grams of marijuana were found in baggies, and the gun was previously reported as stolen in Florence, according to the release.

In addition to a 10-year sentence for the conviction on the 2022 charges, Coleman’s federal supervised release was revoked, and he was ordered to serve another two years in prison from the 2001 conviction, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. One year of the 24-month revocation will run concurrent and the other consecutive to the new 10-year sentence, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Coleman will be on supervised release for eight years upon completion of the sentence, according to the release.

In addition to the sheriff’s office, Coleman was investigated by the DEA and the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey Haynes prosecuted the case, as well as Coleman’s earlier 2001 case, according to the release. Information about Coleman’s attorney was not available.