Man Gets 26 Years in SC Sexual Assault Killing

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By Alicia Barnes

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) _ A Greer man has been sentenced to 26 years in prison for killing a woman during a violent sexual assault.

Solicitor Walt Wilkins says 52-year-old James Ruston pleaded guilty Tuesday to involuntary manslaughter and first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Rushton was originally charged with murder in May 2011 after 33-year-old April Dawn Smith was found dead at his home.

Investigators said Rushton told them he picked up Smith after she had an argument with her boyfriend and that she must have died after suffering a drug overdose.

But the coroner said Smith died from an air embolism that reached her lungs during an assault. Authorities say Rushton eventually admitted he had sexually assaulted the woman with a potato masher. Investigators say that assault caused the embolism.

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