State v. Dickerson, No. 25164.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtTOAL, Chief Justice
Citation341 S.C. 391,535 S.E.2d 119
Docket NumberNo. 25164.
Decision Date03 July 2000
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. William Oliver DICKERSON, Appellant.

341 S.C. 391
535 S.E.2d 119

The STATE, Respondent,
v.
William Oliver DICKERSON, Appellant

No. 25164.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

Heard May 24, 2000.

Decided July 3, 2000.


341 S.C. 393
Assistant Appellate Defender Robert M. Dudek, of South Carolina Office of Appellate Defense, of Columbia, for appellant

Attorney General Charles M. Condon, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Donald J. Zelenka, Assistant Attorney General G. Robert Deloach, III, all of Columbia; and Solicitor David P. Schwacke, of North Charleston, for respondent.

TOAL, Chief Justice:

William Oliver Dickerson ("defendant") was convicted of murdering Mary Middleton ("victim"). Defendant appeals. We affirm.

FACTUAL/PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Victim was last seen alive on the evening of May 31, 1996, in her Charleston home. She was 83 years old and lived by herself. Around 8:00 p.m. that evening, victim went next door to tell Chrisaundra Lockwood, her neighbor, that she had a telephone call at her house. Lockwood did not have a phone of her own so victim allowed her to take calls on her line. On the way back to her house, victim told Lockwood that she was talking in the backyard with a man who had gone to school with her son, but who she did not remember. While in the house, Lockwood observed victim talking in the backyard to a man in a green hospital shirt, which resembled a doctor's shirt. When Lockwood left the house after the call, victim was still talking to the man.

At this same time, another one of victim's neighbors, Quinnie Gailliard, observed victim in her backyard talking with an man she recognized as the defendant. She even asked her

341 S.C. 394
husband at the time if he thought it was defendant talking to victim. Husband disagreed with her at the time that the man was defendant. Gailliard testified the man was standing near victim's car in the backyard, looking at some damage to the vehicle

Around 8:30 p.m. that evening, a few blocks away from victim's house, defendant approached Willie Gibbs, a friend defendant had grown up with, and asked him for a ride into the city. Once in the car, defendant asked Gibbs to take him to MUSC so he could get a key from his girlfriend, Sandra Jenkins, in order to change clothes. Gibbs refused and defendant told him that he needed to change clothes because he and a friend had just killed a man in Mt. Pleasant. Defendant showed Gibbs that he had turned his pants inside out to cover up the blood. In the car, Gibbs could see defendant's pants legs were covered in blood. Defendant and Gibbs got into an argument and defendant got out of the car.

Soon after 11:00 p.m. that night, defendant knocked on Sandra Jenkins' door. When she let him in the apartment, defendant was wearing a green hospital shirt and his pants on inside out. Even though the pants were reversed, Jenkins testified she could tell they were covered in blood. Defendant told Jenkins that he had been in a truck with a man and his girlfriend and the man had repeatedly stabbed the girlfriend and he did not know if she was alive or dead.

Jenkins was scared and asked defendant to leave. Defendant refused to leave and emptied his pockets onto her coffee table. In addition to a small amount of money, defendant also put a broach on the table that "somebody would wear to church." Defendant then showered and put on some clothes that belonged to Jenkins' son. He rolled up the green hospital scrub top and bloody pants and took them with him when he left.

The next morning, victim's neighbors became concerned when she did not get her morning paper or open up her windows. Eventually one of the neighbors entered the house. Victim was found dead on the floor with her body naked from the waist down. The house had been ransacked. The neighbors called the police who arrived at the scene around 2:30 p.m. on June 1, 1996.

341 S.C. 395
The police found no signs of forced entry into the house. Victim had suffered 25 separate stab wounds on her head and neck, causing her to bleed to death. Two of the stab wounds had pierced victim's carotid artery and jugular vein, both were fatal injuries. The medical examiner estimated the time of death at around 8:00 p.m. the previous evening

The medical examiner characterized the victim's death as an "overkill" murder. According to the medical examiner, "overkill" occurs when the murderer inflicts injuries much more severe than necessary to cause death. The medical examiner testified that she had only encountered "overkill" murders as the result of a lovers' quarrel or when the killer had been high on drugs like cocaine. She also testified that expert literature on the subject of "overkill" murders reports that such killings often occur when the killer is high on drugs or motivated to kill by sexual passion.

Investigators at the crime scene found defendant's fingerprints all over the inside of victim's house and on her belongings. Fingerprints were on a magazine in the living room, on one of victim's purses, on victim's dresser, on a plastic bag, and on a jewelry box in victim's bedroom. The purse and jewelry box covered with defendant's fingerprints had been emptied onto victim's bed. The police also found defendant's fingerprints on the car in victim's backyard where Gailliard had testified that victim and the man were standing shortly before the murder.

Two days after the murder the police arrested defendant. On the day of the murder, defendant had been living with his brother in a house located on the street directly behind victim's house. Defendant had grown up in the neighborhood and attended school with victim's son. He also told the police that he had never been inside victim's house before. When arrested, defendant voluntarily gave the following sworn statement to the police:

On Friday, which is May 31st, 1996, about 9:00 a.m. I went and picked up Lee in Ashleyville. We went to Mimi's house in Shadowmoss to clean the garage. I came back to the area of the Hess Gas Station on Highway 61 about 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. and caught a rid [sic] to the North Area.
341 S.C. 396
In the North Area, I got a bag of cocaine and a bag of heroin. I got high on Arbutus Street in the Height. I caught a ride back into Charleston and went to the same Hess Station and bought a quart of Old English Beer. This was about 1:00 a.m. I then walked back to Armstrong Avenue and crawled through the window of my brother's house and went to sleep.
I got up around 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning. I caught a ride to Tony's Auto Repair on Highway 61 to check on my car and then to Shadowmoss. I then left Shadowmoss, and I went to the North Area again and got high. I came
...

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23 practice notes
  • State v. Rivera, No. 27220.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • April 3, 2013
    ...of Rule 403, SCRE,] means an undue tendency to suggest a decision on an improper basis.’ ”) [402 S.C. 245](quoting State v. Dickerson, 341 S.C. 391, 400, 535 S.E.2d 119, 123 (2000)). Regardless of whether a defendant's decision to testify is to his own detriment, “it ‘must be honored out of......
  • State v. Simmons, No. 4569.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • June 17, 2009
    ...417, 118 S.E. 803, 807 (1923). "Unfair prejudice means an undue tendency to suggest decision on an improper basis." State v. Dickerson, 341 S.C. 391, 400, 535 S.E.2d 119, 123 (2000). Finally, the determination of prejudice must be based on the entire record, and the result will generally tu......
  • State v. King, No. 3467.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • March 25, 2002
    ...344, 543 S.E.2d 586 (Ct.App. 2001). Additionally, evidence of drug use or distribution must be clear and convincing. State v. Dickerson, 341 S.C. 391, 399, 535 S.E.2d 119, 123 (2000) ("The evidence of the prior bad acts must be clear and convincing to be admissible.") (citation omitted). Co......
  • State v. Stokes, No. 26603.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • February 17, 2009
    ...the danger of unfair prejudice). "Unfair prejudice means an undue tendency to suggest decision on an improper basis." State v. Dickerson, 341 S.C. 391, 400, 535 S.E.2d 119, 123 (2000). Finally, the determination of prejudice must be based on the entire record, and the result will generally ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
23 cases
  • State v. Rivera, No. 27220.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • April 3, 2013
    ...of Rule 403, SCRE,] means an undue tendency to suggest a decision on an improper basis.’ ”) [402 S.C. 245](quoting State v. Dickerson, 341 S.C. 391, 400, 535 S.E.2d 119, 123 (2000)). Regardless of whether a defendant's decision to testify is to his own detriment, “it ‘must be honored out of......
  • State v. Simmons, No. 4569.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • June 17, 2009
    ...417, 118 S.E. 803, 807 (1923). "Unfair prejudice means an undue tendency to suggest decision on an improper basis." State v. Dickerson, 341 S.C. 391, 400, 535 S.E.2d 119, 123 (2000). Finally, the determination of prejudice must be based on the entire record, and the result will generally tu......
  • State v. King, No. 3467.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • March 25, 2002
    ...344, 543 S.E.2d 586 (Ct.App. 2001). Additionally, evidence of drug use or distribution must be clear and convincing. State v. Dickerson, 341 S.C. 391, 399, 535 S.E.2d 119, 123 (2000) ("The evidence of the prior bad acts must be clear and convincing to be admissible.") (citation omitted). Co......
  • State v. Stokes, No. 26603.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • February 17, 2009
    ...the danger of unfair prejudice). "Unfair prejudice means an undue tendency to suggest decision on an improper basis." State v. Dickerson, 341 S.C. 391, 400, 535 S.E.2d 119, 123 (2000). Finally, the determination of prejudice must be based on the entire record, and the result will generally ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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