822 S.E.2d 344 (S.C.App. 2018), 5605, State v. Hill

Docket Nº:Opinion 5605, Appellate 2016-000868
Citation:822 S.E.2d 344, 425 S.C. 374
Opinion Judge:HILL, J.:
Party Name:The STATE, Respondent, v. Marshell HILL, Appellant.
Attorney:Appellate Defender Kathrine Haggard Hudgins, of Columbia, for Appellant. Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson and Assistant Deputy Attorney General David A. Spencer, both of Columbia; and Solicitor William Walter Wilkins, III, of Greenville, all for Respondent.
Judge Panel:KONDUROS and MCDONALD, JJ., concur.
Case Date:November 28, 2018
Court:Court of Appeals of South Carolina

Page 344

822 S.E.2d 344 (S.C.App. 2018)

425 S.C. 374

The STATE, Respondent,


Marshell HILL, Appellant.

Opinion No. 5605

Appellate No. 2016-000868

Court of Appeals of South Carolina

November 28, 2018

Heard September 19, 2018

Rehearing Denied January 17, 2019

Page 345

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Appeal From Greenville County, Perry H. Gravely, Circuit Court Judge

Appellate Defender Kathrine Haggard Hudgins, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson and Assistant Deputy Attorney General David A. Spencer, both of Columbia; and Solicitor William Walter Wilkins, III, of Greenville, all for Respondent.



[425 S.C. 377] Marshell Hill appeals his voluntary manslaughter conviction, contending the trial court erred by admitting several statements the State obtained in violation of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966), into evidence. We reverse and remand.


Around midday on August 14, 2013, Greenville County Sheriff’s officers responded to a 911 call by Michael Barksdale from his home in the Judson Mill community. The first responding officer found Billy Patterson deceased outside the home. The officers interviewed Barksdale and spoke with his roommate, Hill, but deemed Hill too intoxicated to be questioned. Officers observed that Hill, who is disabled due to a hip injury, relied on a cane to walk. Hill repeatedly volunteered that Patterson had ripped off the screen door of the home. The officers photographed the scene and retrieved several samples of blood evidence from the patio, screen door, and other areas. After the officers determined Hill had an outstanding bench warrant for failure to appear, he was arrested and transported to the Law Enforcement Center (LEC).

The next morning, Lead Investigator Fortner, along with Investigator Bailey, attended Patterson’s autopsy and learned the cause of death was blunt force trauma caused by repeated blows from a cylindrical object such as a broom handle or cane. The Investigators went to sign Hill out of detention to question him, only to discover he had been released earlier that morning. They then obtained a search warrant for Barksdale’s house and drove there to execute it. Hill was there when they arrived, having walked home from the LEC. Hill testified he had consumed "over a pint" since returning home. During [425 S.C. 378] the search, the Investigators seized a wooden cane from Hill’s bedroom. They then asked Hill to accompany them to the LEC so they could speak with him, promising to drive him back home later. Hill agreed.

The record is murky, but it appears the group arrived at the LEC around 3:00 p.m. The Investigators escorted Hill to a common work area for the homicide division, furnished with six desks and numerous chairs. No other people were present. Hill had not been handcuffed or advised he was in (or not in) custody. Rather than recording the interview, the Investigators typed a summary of Hill’s statement on a "victim/witness" form, which reflected a time of 3:27 p.m. Hill explained in the statement that Patterson, a friend, came to Hill’s house around 6 p.m., and they began drinking and watching television. Patterson later became unable to move, so Hill told him to lie on the floor. A few hours later, around 11 p.m., Barksdale came in from work and advised Hill to let Patterson "sleep it off." Soon thereafter, Patterson stood up and announced he was leaving but fell while holding the screen door, taking it to the ground with him. Hill and Barksdale managed to get Patterson back inside, where he slept a few more hours before leaving. Later in the night, Hill heard his dog barking, went outside, and saw Patterson sitting in the backyard next to the house. Hill came

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outside again around 9 or 10 a.m. and noticed Patterson now had an injury to his eye and black and blue marks on his back. Hill gave Patterson some water. Around 11 a.m. or noon, Hill found Patterson had no pulse and asked Barksdale to call 911.

After Hill gave this statement, the Investigators left the room to confer, focusing on how Hill’s version conflicted with Barksdale’s. Fortner then resumed his questioning of Hill, recalling: So we went back and talked with Mr. Hill. I brought up the television set. It was pretty obvious that he liked his television. He spoke about it that day while we were there and he had mentioned something about it during the course of our interview. So then I asked him if Mr. Patterson had maybe tried to steal his television while he was there? And I could tell by his actions ... he actually looked like he was about to cry. And he broke down and said that yes that he did. And then that he had tapped him twice.

[425 S.C. 379] At this point, the Investigators took Hill across the hall to a video interview room. The video, admitted as a States exhibit, begins at 5:17 p.m. and runs forty-six minutes. The video shows Hill, whose sobriety was questionable, initialed but did not sign a set of warnings printed on a Waiver of Rights form. When asked by the...

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