It was a typical Saturday night for taxi cab driver Guma Oz Dubar, 46, as he picked up passengers in need of a ride home after a long night of partying. With his friend James Cody Newland, 32, in tow, the two picked up a man named James Edward Loftis from a local South Carolina strip club. Things took a turn for the worst, however, when they dropped Loftis off at his Goose Creek home.
39-year-old Loftis claimed the taxi driver and his friend demanded a large amount of cash for the taxi ride and attempted to force their way into his house. That’s when he shot both men in the head and chest. Loftis then dug a shallow grave in his backyard and set the bodies on fire.
“They were essentially just slow-cooked inside the grave site,” said Deputy Solicitor Bryan Alfaro.
Police arrived at the home later that night after Loftis’ wife reported that while she was out of town, her husband had called her to say he “killed ‘them’ and put them in the back yard,” the Washington Post reports. She noticed the smell of bleach from her husband’s attempted crime scene cleanup when she came home. She also explained to police that her husband has a history of mental issues, per an incident report.
The South Carolina man now faces two murder charges for the deaths of the African-American cab driver and his friend, according to Raw Story.
The news publication also reports that Loftis gave authorities varying accounts of what happened the evening of March 5, 2016. He initially told police he invited the two men in but then contradicted his story by saying they barged into his home.
Per Rolling Out, the family and friends of Dubar, the slain taxi driver, say that he would never force anyone to pay a cab fare; he would instead call the police and let them handle it like he’s done in the past.
Stephen Harris, the attorney appointed to defend Loftis, acknowledges that what his client did was “heinous” but he had every right to defend himself under South Carolina’s Stand Your Ground Law.
“He’s a human being,” Harris said. “He freaked out and thought he was going to prison, so he tried to hide the bodies. Nobody knows how you’re going to react when you kill two people.”
According to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division website, the state’s Protection or Persons and Property Act is essentially a “Stand Your Ground” law that legally authorizes the use of deadly force against an intruder in your home, vehicle or place of business. The law also grants immunity “from criminal prosecution and civil action” to individuals who decide to use lethal force to defend themselves.
Loftis was allegedly traumatized by the attempted home invasion and used evidence of a size 12 shoe print at the door of his home in order to support his claim.
Per Raw Story, circuit Judge Markley Dennis complied to allow Loftis to post $250,000 bond at a court hearing Sunday, stating that his choice of the defense makes him less of a flight risk. Loftis’ lawyer says he will remain under house arrest until his trial.
One of the victim’s daughters said she forgives Loftis for what he did, according to Live5News. Dubar’s wife isn’t willing to forgive just yet, though.
“You took my soulmate from me,” she said to the Post and Courier. “He didn’t deserve to be burned.”