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Suspect pleads guilty to kidnapping, murder of Upstate man

David Stokes in court for his guilty plea on May 9, 2022.
David Stokes in court for his guilty plea on May 9, 2022.(FOX Carolina News)
Published: May. 9, 2022 at 10:54 AM EDT|Updated: May. 9, 2022 at 1:44 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - One of five suspects accused of kidnapping and killing an Upstate man entered a guilty plea on Monday.

David Stokes pleaded guilty to murder and kidnapping in connection with the 2019 slaying of Duncan man Ivan Gula. Gula’s body was found with multiple stab wounds, buried in a shallow grave on Cripple Creek Road in Greer.

Stokes was charged with murder along with Audrea Cook, Bobby Smith, Jeffery George and Patrick Poole. A sixth suspect was also arrested and charged with accessory after the fact.

Left to right: David Stokes, Audrea Cook, Bobby Smith, and Jeffery George
Left to right: David Stokes, Audrea Cook, Bobby Smith, and Jeffery George(Greenville Co. Detention Center)

Prosecutors said Stokes and his co-defendants stabbed Gula to death with a machete on C and S Drive and moved his body to the burial site where it was later found.

Stokes’ sentencing has been deferred until the other murder suspects in the case go to trial. He is expected to testify for the state.

A trial date has not yet been set.