Mahdi v. State, No. 26671.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtPleicones
Citation678 S.E.2d 807,383 S.C. 135
PartiesMikal D. MAHDI, Petitioner, v. STATE of South Carolina, Respondent.
Decision Date15 June 2009
Docket NumberNo. 26671.
678 S.E.2d 807
383 S.C. 135
Mikal D. MAHDI, Petitioner,
v.
STATE of South Carolina, Respondent.
No. 26671.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
Heard February 18, 2009.
Decided June 15, 2009.

Appellate Defender Kathrine H. Hudgins, of South Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense, of Columbia, for Petitioner.

Attorney General Henry Dargan McMaster, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Donald J. Zelenka, and Assistant Attorney General J. Anthony Mabry, all of Columbia, and Solicitor David Michael Pascoe, Jr., of Orangeburg, for Respondent.

Justice PLEICONES:


Petitioner1 pleaded guilty to murder, second degree burglary, and grand larceny. The trial judge imposed a death sentence for murder finding two aggravating circumstances,2 and consecutive sentences of fifteen years (burglary) and ten years (larceny). This opinion combines the issue raised on certiorari and the sentencing review mandated by S.C.Code Ann. § 16-3-25 (2003). We affirm.

FACTS

On July 15, 2004, petitioner killed an employee while robbing a gas station in North Carolina. Petitioner shot the North Carolina victim twice in the face at point blank range using a gun he had stolen from his grandmother's neighbor. He was driving a vehicle stolen from Virginia, on which he had placed stolen license plates. Two days later, petitioner car-jacked a man in Columbia at 3:30 a.m. using the same weapon. Early that same morning, petitioner pulled into the Wilco Travel Plaza located off Interstate 26 in Calhoun County. Employees at the Travel Plaza became suspicious when petitioner was repeatedly unable to purchase gasoline from the pumps, while attempting to use stolen credit and/or check cards. The employees called law enforcement, and when officers arrived, petitioner fled on foot. He ran to a nearby farm property owned by Captain and

678 S.E.2d 808

Mrs. Myers.3 The Myers did not reside on the rural property, but there was a shed in which they kept equipment and in which Mrs. Myers had an office.

Petitioner found a .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle in the shed where he apparently spent the day. When Captain Myers stopped by the farm that evening, petitioner shot him nine times with the .22: three bullets struck the victim in the head. Petitioner then poured diesel fuel over the body and lit it. He stole Myers' truck and various firearms from the shed and drove to Florida, where he was arrested three days later after a chase.

After a jury was selected but before it was sworn, petitioner elected to enter a guilty plea to the charges of murdering Captain Myers, burglarizing the shed, and stealing the personal property. The trial judge conducted a sentencing hearing, following which he issued an eleven and a half page sentencing order.

ISSUE

Whether petitioner's capital sentence should be reversed because the trial judge improperly based his decision to impose a death sentence on petitioner's assertion of his right to a jury trial, thereby effectively punishing him for exercising this constitutional right?

ANALYSIS

Petitioner's argument relates to the following passage from the sentencing order, which is the last paragraph in the section of the order titled "Mitigating Circumstances:"

The defense further argues as non-statutory mitigating circumstance that the Court should consider the Defendant's guilty plea in determining the appropriate sentence to be imposed. The Defendant's guilty plea occurred during the fourth day of his trial, following jury selection but prior to the jury being sworn. This was one day following his attempted escape through the use of the homemade key. In addition, Mr. Mahdi has failed to demonstrate any remorse for his actions at any point in time known to the Court. Therefore, I conclude that no significant weight should be given to this non-statutory mitigating circumstance in the Court's ultimate decision as to the sentence to be imposed.

Petitioner contends this paragraph, specifically the second sentence, "The Defendant's guilty plea occurred during the fourth day of his trial, following jury selection but prior to the jury being sworn," demonstrates the judge...

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4 practice notes
  • Mahdi v. Stirling, C/A No. 8:16-3911-TMC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • September 24, 2018
    ...of the assault rifle. When cornered by police, Petitioner abandoned the rifle and was eventually taken into custody. Mahdi v. State, 678 S.E.2d 807, 809 (S.C. 2009) (Toal, C.J., concurring) (footnote added).PROCEDURAL HISTORYGuilty Plea & Sentencing On August 23, 2004, the Calhoun County gr......
  • Mahdi v. Stirling, 19-3
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • December 20, 2021
    ...that in her time as a jurist, she "ha[d] seen few cases where the extraordinary penalty of death was so deserved." Mahdi v. State , 383 S.C. 135, 678 S.E.2d 807, 808–09 (2009) (Toal, C.J., concurring). We recite the following from her opinion concurring in that court's rejection of Mahdi's ......
  • Mahdi v. Stirling, 19-3
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • December 20, 2021
    ...that in her time as a jurist, she "ha[d] seen few cases where the extraordinary penalty of death was so deserved." Mahdi v. State, 678 S.E.2d 807, 808-09 (S.C. 2009) (Toal, C.J., concurring). We recite the following from her opinion concurring in that court's rejection of Mahdi's direct app......
  • Harris v. Warden, Civil Action No.:2:13-2755-JMC-WWD
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • September 12, 2014
    ...defaulted at the circuit court level and could not be raised on appeal even with the filing of an Anders brief. Mahdi v. State, 383 S.C. 135, 678 S.E.2d 807 (2009) (challenges to sentencing must be raised at sentencing or the issue is not preserved for appellate review). As a result, this i......
4 cases
  • Mahdi v. Stirling, C/A No. 8:16-3911-TMC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • September 24, 2018
    ...of the assault rifle. When cornered by police, Petitioner abandoned the rifle and was eventually taken into custody. Mahdi v. State, 678 S.E.2d 807, 809 (S.C. 2009) (Toal, C.J., concurring) (footnote added).PROCEDURAL HISTORYGuilty Plea & Sentencing On August 23, 2004, the Calhoun County gr......
  • Mahdi v. Stirling, 19-3
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • December 20, 2021
    ...that in her time as a jurist, she "ha[d] seen few cases where the extraordinary penalty of death was so deserved." Mahdi v. State , 383 S.C. 135, 678 S.E.2d 807, 808–09 (2009) (Toal, C.J., concurring). We recite the following from her opinion concurring in that court's rejection of Mahdi's ......
  • Mahdi v. Stirling, 19-3
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • December 20, 2021
    ...that in her time as a jurist, she "ha[d] seen few cases where the extraordinary penalty of death was so deserved." Mahdi v. State, 678 S.E.2d 807, 808-09 (S.C. 2009) (Toal, C.J., concurring). We recite the following from her opinion concurring in that court's rejection of Mahdi's direct app......
  • Harris v. Warden, Civil Action No.:2:13-2755-JMC-WWD
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • September 12, 2014
    ...defaulted at the circuit court level and could not be raised on appeal even with the filing of an Anders brief. Mahdi v. State, 383 S.C. 135, 678 S.E.2d 807 (2009) (challenges to sentencing must be raised at sentencing or the issue is not preserved for appellate review). As a result, this i......

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