Bowman v. State, Appellate Case No. 2012-213468

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtJUSTICE KITTREDGE
Citation422 S.C. 19,809 S.E.2d 232
Parties Marion BOWMAN, Petitioner, v. STATE of South Carolina, Respondent.
Decision Date10 January 2018
Docket NumberAppellate Case No. 2012-213468,Opinion No. 27761

422 S.C. 19
809 S.E.2d 232

Marion BOWMAN, Petitioner,
STATE of South Carolina, Respondent.

Appellate Case No. 2012-213468
Opinion No. 27761

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

Heard April 13, 2017
Filed January 10, 2018

Chief Appellate Defender Robert M. Dudek and Appellate Defender David Alexander, both of Columbia, for Petitioner.

Attorney General Alan M. Wilson, Chief Deputy Attorney General J. Robert Bolchoz, Deputy Attorney General Donald J. Zelenka, and Assistant Attorney General Alphonso Simon, Jr., all of Columbia, for Respondent.


422 S.C. 23

Petitioner Marion Bowman sought post-conviction relief (PCR) from his sentence of death for the murder of Kandee Martin in February of 2001. The essence of Petitioner's claim is that trial counsel was deficient in failing to object to the State's cross-examination of prison-adaptability expert James Aiken. The PCR court denied Petitioner's application. We issued a writ of certiorari to review the order of the PCR court. We conclude there is evidence to support the PCR court's findings, and we affirm.

809 S.E.2d 235


Around 7:55 p.m. the evening of February 16, 2001, a motorist was traveling down Nursery Road in the rural, northwestern portion of Dorchester County near the Orangeburg County line, when he spotted a small, four-door sedan parked unusually along the shoulder of the road. As the motorist slowed down and pulled alongside the car to take a look, he noticed that some of the windows were down and the lights were off, but no one was in sight. Although this struck him as an odd way to leave a vehicle unattended, he did not investigate further.

Several minutes later, a neighbor who lived on Nursery Road was watching television in his living room when he heard a loud noise outside. He muted the television, and within fifteen seconds, he heard three gunshots. Suspecting someone was night-hunting, the neighbor got in his car and drove in the direction of the noise to investigate; however, after driving along Nursery Road, he was unable to find anything unusual. He returned home, continued watching television, and went to sleep around midnight. Shortly after 3:30 a.m., he was awakened by what initially sounded like more gunshots. He again got in the car to investigate down Nursery Road, this time

422 S.C. 24

spotting a small, four-door sedan positioned on a tractor path between the tree line and a field approximately seventy-five feet from the paved road. The vehicle was engulfed in flames extending almost five feet around and more than fifteen feet above; no other vehicles or persons were anywhere in sight. The neighbor immediately returned home and reported the vehicle fire.1

The local fire department responded to the scene. After putting out most of the fire, firefighters were able to open the trunk of the smoldering car, where they discovered the scorched remains of a human body. The vehicle's charred license plate was recovered, and police discovered the car was registered to twenty-one-year-old Kandee Martin (the Victim) and her mother.2

Arson investigators concluded the fire was intentionally set. The autopsy revealed the Victim was not burned alive, but rather suffered two fatal gunshot wounds—one to the head and one to the torso—before her body was placed in the trunk of her car and set on fire. No projectiles were recovered from the Victim's body; however, police found six spent .380 shell casings in the middle of Nursery Road next to a pool of blood, which contained some hair and the back of an earring. A trail of bloodstained grass and ruffled pine straw led investigators approximately thirty feet into the woods where they discovered a woman's black dress shoe next to bloodstained pine straw and branches. Through DNA testing, police identified the blood on the road, pine straw, and branches as belonging to the Victim, and the Victim's mother identified the black dress shoe found in the woods as her daughter's.

Later that morning, Petitioner Marion Bowman was arrested on an outstanding warrant after police learned he was with the Victim the night before. He was subsequently indicted for murder and third-degree arson, and shortly thereafter, the

422 S.C. 25

State served upon defense counsel a notice of intent to seek the death penalty. The case was tried in May 2002, and the following summarizes the State's evidence at trial.

Less than two weeks before the murder, Petitioner, accompanied by his first cousin Taiwan Gadson and his childhood friend Travis Felder, purchased a High Point .380 automatic pistol from "[a] dude in Orangeburg." On the afternoon of the murder, Petitioner and several others gathered at a friend's house to socialize and drink alcohol. Petitioner carried his .380 pistol to the party in a brown paper bag, then stashed it in a 55-gallon drum/fire barrel upon arrival. Shortly thereafter, Petitioner left the party to pick up some groceries. At some point while he was gone, Petitioner's first-cousin Hiram Johnson relocated the stashed gun, ostensibly

809 S.E.2d 236

for safety purposes. According to six different witnesses, Petitioner became confrontational when he returned and learned his gun had been moved, but Johnson quickly intervened, explained that he moved the gun, and returned the gun to Petitioner. After looking over the gun to ensure it was still in working order, Petitioner tucked the gun in his back pocket.

Sometime later, Petitioner left the party again to run errands with his sister Yolanda Bowman (Yolanda) and their cousin, Katrina West. As they drove through downtown Branchville, they spotted the Victim sitting in her car talking with a man standing outside the Victim's driver's window. Evidently, the Victim owed Petitioner some money. Petitioner, who was sitting in the back seat, asked Yolanda to pull the car over so he could speak to the Victim. Yolanda complied, and Petitioner rolled down his window and tried to get the Victim's attention. The Victim was mid-conversation with the man standing outside her car, and she asked Petitioner to wait a minute. Petitioner then cursed at the Victim and, in front of three witnesses, said he was going to kill the Victim that evening.3

422 S.C. 26

Around 7:30 p.m. that evening, Petitioner returned to the party with the Victim; the Victim drove herself and Petitioner in her Ford Escort, a small, four-door sedan. Gadson got in the car with Petitioner and the Victim, they stole some gas from a convenience store, and Petitioner directed the Victim to drive out to Nursery Road. Once they reached Nursery Road, Petitioner instructed the Victim to pull over and turn off the vehicle lights. The Victim remained in the car while, Petitioner and Gadson exited the vehicle and began walking down Nursery Road; as they walked, Petitioner told Gadson he intended to kill the Victim because he believed she was wearing a wire. A few minutes later, the Victim got out of the car and caught up with them, she grabbed Petitioner by the elbow and said she was scared because it was extremely dark outside. Just as the Victim was pleading to leave, the threesome saw a car coming down the road, so they all ran and hid in the woods until the car passed.

The Victim then started walking back down the road with Petitioner following. As Gadson came out of the woods behind them, he saw Petitioner fire three times at the Victim. The Victim ran towards Gadson, but turned to face Petitioner and begged, "Please, [Petitioner], don't shoot me no more. I have a baby to take care of." Petitioner then fired twice more and the Victim fell to the ground. Gadson testified he jumped in the car while Petitioner dragged the Victim's body by her feet into the woods. Petitioner later returned, got into the driver's seat of the Victim's car, and stated "I shot that bitch in the head. Heard her head hit the ground." The two then returned to Branchville in the Victim's car, and on the way back, Petitioner threatened Gadson that if he ever told anyone what happened, he would blow Gadson's brains out.

Sometime after midnight, Petitioner drove himself, Gadson, Johnson, and Darrien Williams to a nightclub in the Victim's car. Petitioner stated the car was stolen and instructed everyone to wear gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints. At the club, Petitioner attempted to sell the Victim's car with no success. Thereafter, Petitioner drove the group back to Branchville in the Victim's car; as he drove, he had the murder weapon sitting in his lap and remarked, "I killed Kandee, heh heh heh."

422 S.C. 27

Shortly after 3:00 a.m., Petitioner knocked on Felder's door and asked Felder to give him a ride. Felder testified that he got in his own car and followed Petitioner, who was driving the Victim's car, back to Nursery Road. Petitioner pulled over on the side of the road and went into the woods for a minute. Then, Felder saw Petitioner dragging a body out of the woods by the feet. As Petitioner opened the trunk and put the body inside, Felder recognized the Victim's face by the...

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