CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – A woman has been found guilty of burglarizing a North Charleston home while the victims were evacuated during Hurricane Florence in 2018.

Solicitor Scarlett Wilson on Monday announced that a Charleston County jury found 42-year-old Sheena Shanay Alston guilty of first-degree burglary earlier this month.

In court, prosecutors said the burglary happened during the early morning hours of September 14, 2018, while Hurricane Florence was making landfall along the South Carolina coast.

They said Alston and another person scouted the victim’s home, and after finding no signs of anyone there, removed a window A/C unit and climbed through the opening into a child’s bedroom.

While the victims had evacuated because of the approaching storm, a neighbor saw the break-in happening and called 911 to report the crime.

An officer with the North Charleston Police Department arrived within minutes while Alston was still inside the home.

“As the officer approached the home, Alston spotted him and slammed the front door locking herself inside,” said Solicitor Wilson’s office. The officer made demands for Alston to exit, but the woman escaped through the bedroom window.

An accomplice identified Alston as the burglar. Investigators were able to connect her through phone records and a white and pink cell phone that she dropped while trying to escape police custody.

According to Solicitor Wilson’s office, Alston was found six days later while at a gas station on Midland Park Road – investigators tracked her to an apartment where she was found hiding under the kitchen sink and taken into custody.

Alston failed to appear for this month’s trial, according to Solicitor Wilson. Judge Robert J. Bonds sealed Alston’s sentence and issued a bench warrant for her arrest. She was taken into custody by Charleston County deputies on August 11.

“Predators are not going to escape justice by hiding from trial. Court is up and running and we intend to make good use of it. We are especially grateful that Judge Bonds moved forward with the trial despite the defendant’s attempt to avoid the verdict and sentence. We will provide an update when the court unseals the sentence.”

Alston faced a minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum of life in prison. Solicitor Wilson said the jury reached its verdict on August 2nd, the second day of the trial.

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