State v. Allen, No. 26743.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtWaller
Citation687 S.E.2d 21,386 S.C. 93
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. Quincy Jovan ALLEN, Appellant.
Decision Date16 November 2009
Docket NumberNo. 26743.
687 S.E.2d 21
The STATE, Respondent,
v.
Quincy Jovan ALLEN, Appellant.
No. 26743.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
Heard September 15, 2009.
Decided November 16, 2009.
Rehearing Denied December 17, 2009.

[687 S.E.2d 22]

Acting Chief Appellate Defender Robert M. Dudek, and Appellate Defender Katherine H. Hudgins, both of Columbia, for Appellant.

Attorney General Henry D. McMaster, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Donald J. Zelenka, all of Columbia, and Solicitor Warren B. Giese, of Columbia, for Respondent.

Justice WALLER.


Appellant, Quincy Jovan Allen, pleaded guilty to two counts of murder, one count of assault and battery with intent to kill (ABIK), one count of arson in the second degree, two counts of arson in the third degree, and one count of pointing and presenting a firearm. After a sentencing hearing conducted by the trial judge,1 Allen was sentenced to death for the murders, twenty years for ABIK, twenty-five years for arson in the second degree, ten years for each count of third degree arson, and five years for pointing and presenting a firearm. He appeals the trial court's imposition of a death sentence.

FACTS

At approximately 3:00 a.m. on July 7, 2002, Quincy Allen approached a homeless man, fifty-one year old James White, who was lying on a swinging bench in Finlay Park in downtown Columbia. Allen ordered White to stand up, and proceeded to shoot him in the shoulder. When White fell back to the bench, Allen ordered him to stand up and shot him again. According to Allen's subsequent statement to police, he had just gotten the shot-gun and he used White as a practice victim because he did not know how to shoot the gun. White survived the assault.

A few days later, on July 10, 2002, Allen met a prostitute named Dale Hall on Two Notch Road in Columbia; he took her to an isolated dead end cul-de-sac near I-77 where he shot her three times with a 12 gauge shotgun, placing the shotgun in her mouth as she pleaded for her life. After shooting her, Allen left to purchase a can of gasoline, and came back to douse Hall's body and set her on fire. He then went back to work at his job at the Texas Roadhouse Grill restaurant on Two Notch Road.

Several weeks later, on August 8, 2002, while working at the restaurant, Allen got into an argument with two sisters, Taneal and Tiffany Todd; he threatened Tiffany, who was then 12 weeks pregnant, that he was going to slap her so hard her baby would have a mark on it. Tiffany's boyfriend Brian Marquis came to the restaurant, accompanied by his friend Jedediah Harr. After a confrontation, Allen fired his shotgun into Harr's car, attempting to shoot Marquis; however, Allen missed Marquis and instead hit Harr in the right side of the head. As the car rolled downhill, Marquis jumped out and ran into a nearby convenience store, where he was hidden in the cooler by an employee. Allen left the convenience store, and went and set fire to the front porch of Marquis' home. A few hours later Allen set fire to the car of Sarah Barnes, another Texas Roadhouse employee. Harr died of the shotgun blast to his head.

The following day, Allen set fire to the car of another man, Don Bundrick, whom he apparently did not know. Later that evening, August 9, 2002, Allen went to a strip club, Platinum Plus, in Columbia, where he pointed his shotgun at a patron. Allen left South Carolina and proceeded to New York City. On his way back, while in North Carolina, Allen shot and killed two men at a convenience store in Surrey County.2 Allen then went to Texas, where he was apprehended by law enforcement on August 14th.

687 S.E.2d 23

Allen gave statements to police outlining the details of his crimes. He told police he began killing people because an inmate in federal prison, where Allen spent time for stealing a vehicle, had told him he could get him a job as a mafia hit man. Allen got tired of waiting and embarked on his own killing spree. Allen told police he would have killed more people if he had had a handgun, but his prior record prohibited him from obtaining a handgun.

ISSUES

1. Did the sentencing court commit reversible error in commenting on the deterrent effect a sentence of death might have on abusive mothers?

2. Did the sentencing court commit reversible error in failing to designate a finding of a specific statutory aggravating circumstance?

3. Did the sentencing court err in failing to find S.C.Code Ann. 16-3-20(b) unconstitutional as violating the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments?

1. DETERRENT EFFECT COMMENTS

At his guilty plea, Allen admitted to the facts as recited by the solicitor, essentially those set out above. At sentencing, the state was required to establish its aggravating circumstances, and Allen put up a case in mitigation of punishment. At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, Judge Cooper stated:

In considering the outcome of this sentencing hearing I have tried to understand the unique forces and events which have put Mr. Allen in the situation in which he finds himself today. I have considered his upbringing so masterfully chronicled by Deborah Grey.3 I've considered his list of mental illnesses ...

I've considered the facts of the various murders that Mr. Allen does not deny. I've considered the impact to James White, to Dale Hall's family and to the Harr family. I've also considered the effect of this trial on Quincy Allen's two younger brothers who have sat through the majority of this trial. And I have considered the passionate arguments of counsel on both sides of this case....

The trial court gave a lengthy discourse as to the reasons he felt a death sentence was warranted under the circumstances of this case. In concluding the death sentence was appropriate, the judge stated:

So I come to the consideration of the factors which should control a death penalty sentence: retribution and deterrence. Retribution in a sense is the easiest. Considering the fear Mr. Allen struck into the heart of James White and the subsequent shooting of James White for practice, I find retribution appropriate.

Considering the fear Mr. Allen struck into the heart of Dale Hall, the absolute depravity of her murder, and the subsequent burning of her body, I find retribution appropriate.

Considering the callous killing of Jedediah Harr and the subsequent stalking of Brian Marquis for the purpose of killing him, I find retribution appropriate.

And how could Quincy Allen's death serve as a deterrent to others, to the abused and neglected young people of this community? Maybe it will make some young man or some young girl stop and think about the results of destructive behavior.

Hopefully, hopefully, it will make some young mother, single or otherwise, think about the love and care that children need, no matter how tough the circumstances, and would deter that mother from making the same horrible choices made with Quincy Allen. I would hope that this sentence has at least that deterrent effect, but we may never know.

I find that, pursuant to Section 16-3-20 of the [S.C.Code], the death penalty is warranted under the evidence in this case, and is not the result of passion, prejudice or any other factor.

(emphasis supplied). Allen now contends the highlighted language above demonstrates that the trial court imposed a sentence of death to serve as a deterrent to abusive

687 S.E.2d 24

parents and constitutes an arbitrary factor in...

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9 practice notes
  • State v. Inman, No. 27081.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • January 25, 2012
    ...abandoned this issue on appeal as he correctly recognizes that this issue has been decided against his position. See State v. Allen, 386 S.C. 93, 687 S.E.2d 21 (2009), cert. denied, ––– U.S. ––––, 130 S.Ct. 3329, 176 L.Ed.2d 1229 (2010) (noting, in appeal of guilty plea and capital sentence......
  • State v. Addison, No. 2008-945
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of New Hampshire
    • November 6, 2013
    ...638, 639 (Ga. 1995); State v. Amrine, 741 S.W.2d 665, 669 (Mo. 1987); Blake v. State, 121 P.3d 567, 578 (Nev. 2005); State v. Allen, 687 S.E.2d 21, 24 (S.C. 2009); Payne v. Commonwealth, 357 S.E.2d 500, 505 (Va. 1987). Others have concluded that general deterrence arguments are improper. Se......
  • State v. Addison, No. 2008–945
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of New Hampshire
    • November 6, 2013
    ...639 (1995) ; State v. Amrine, 741 S.W.2d 665, 669 (Mo.1987) ; Blake v. State, 121 Nev. 779, 121 P.3d 567, 578 (2005) ; State v. Allen, 386 S.C. 93, 687 S.E.2d 21, 24 (2009) ; Payne v. Commonwealth, 233 Va. 460, 357 S.E.2d 500, 505 (1987). Others have concluded that general deterrence argume......
  • Allen v. Stephan, 20-6
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • July 26, 2022
    ...issues on direct appeal. See J.A. 1933. The Supreme Court of South Carolina affirmed his convictions and sentence, State v. Allen , 386 S.C. 93, 687 S.E.2d 21 (2009), and the United States Supreme Court denied his petition for writ of certiorari, Allen v. South Carolina , 560 U.S. 929, 130 ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • State v. Inman, No. 27081.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • January 25, 2012
    ...abandoned this issue on appeal as he correctly recognizes that this issue has been decided against his position. See State v. Allen, 386 S.C. 93, 687 S.E.2d 21 (2009), cert. denied, ––– U.S. ––––, 130 S.Ct. 3329, 176 L.Ed.2d 1229 (2010) (noting, in appeal of guilty plea and capital sentence......
  • State v. Addison, No. 2008-945
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of New Hampshire
    • November 6, 2013
    ...638, 639 (Ga. 1995); State v. Amrine, 741 S.W.2d 665, 669 (Mo. 1987); Blake v. State, 121 P.3d 567, 578 (Nev. 2005); State v. Allen, 687 S.E.2d 21, 24 (S.C. 2009); Payne v. Commonwealth, 357 S.E.2d 500, 505 (Va. 1987). Others have concluded that general deterrence arguments are improper. Se......
  • State v. Addison, No. 2008–945
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of New Hampshire
    • November 6, 2013
    ...639 (1995) ; State v. Amrine, 741 S.W.2d 665, 669 (Mo.1987) ; Blake v. State, 121 Nev. 779, 121 P.3d 567, 578 (2005) ; State v. Allen, 386 S.C. 93, 687 S.E.2d 21, 24 (2009) ; Payne v. Commonwealth, 233 Va. 460, 357 S.E.2d 500, 505 (1987). Others have concluded that general deterrence argume......
  • Allen v. Stephan, Case No. 0:18-cv-01544-DCC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • March 25, 2020
    ...would have killed more people if he had had a handgun, but his prior record prohibitedPage 3 him from obtaining a handgun.State v. Allen, 687 S.E.2d 21, 22-23 (S.C. 2009) (footnote in original).PROCEDURAL HISTORYGuilty Plea & Sentencing In September 2002, the Richland County Grand Jury indi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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