State v. Durden, 19973

Decision Date13 March 1975
Docket NumberNo. 19973,19973
Citation264 S.C. 86,212 S.E.2d 587
CourtSouth Carolina Supreme Court
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. Douglas DURDEN, Appellant.

Thomas F. Allgood, of Allgood & Childs, Aiken, for appellant.

Sol. C. LaVaun Fox, Aiken, Atty. Gen. Daniel R. McLeod, Asst. Atty. Gen. Robert M. Ariail and Staff Atty. Joseph R. Barker, Columbia, for respondent.


Douglas Durden, the appellant, was tried for murder and convicted of voluntary manslaughter, resulting in a sentence of 20 years imprisonment.

He killed Dalmer Jackson Carter, who was the former husband of his (appellant's) common law wife, by shooting him two times with a 25 caliber pistol. The killing occurred when the deceased came to the residence of the appellant and his common law wife for the purpose of returning his children to their mother after he had exercised his visitation rights. Shortly thereafter, appellant asked the deceased to step outside. The details of what happened are in conflict, but an altercation ensued, resulting in the appellant's shooting the deceased. He died sixteen days later from the wounds.

In this appeal the appellant asks for a new trial, alleging prejudicial errors on the part of the trial judge in the conduct of the trial in three particulars:

'1. In refusing to admit into evidence a shirt worn by appellant's counsel and marked, during cross-examination, with a pencil by a medical doctor to indicate the points at which the bullets entered the body of the deceased;

'2. In refusing to declare a recess so that counsel for the appellant would have time to obtain a witness to rebut a reply witness called by the State; and

'3. In refusing to grant a mistrial because of the solicitor's closing argument to the jury.'


During the trial the doctor who had treated the deceased described to the jury the point of entry of the two bullets into the body of the deceased person. On cross-examination appellant's counsel asked the doctor to mark on his own (appellant's counsel's) shirt the location of the fatal wounds of the deceased. The next day appellant's counsel attempted to introduce the shirt into evidence. The solicitor interposed an objection which the judge sustained.

Appellant submits that the admission of the shirt into evidence was vital to his proof of self-defense. He argues that since the doctor was an expert, and since he was the only one who could indicate the location of the wounds with a degree of certainty, the refusal to admit the shirt into evidence required the jury to speculate on a matter about which they could have been certain.

We find no prejudicial error in exclusion of the shirt as an exhibit. Appellant's counsel has failed to point out wherein the appellant suffered prejudice. The location of the bullet wounds was not in contest and counsel admitted as much in oral argument. It is obvious from the record that the doctor clearly described to the jury the point of entry of the two bullets. Introduction of the shirt was cumulative at most on a fact which was not in dispute.


It would appear that appellant's common law wife testified that she had on occasions called the police to their home because of rowdy conduct of the deceased on her premises. In reply the State called a police officer who denied this testimony and testified, 'There have been no calls on Mr. Carter (the deceased).' Thereafter, counsel for the appellant requested of the judge a recess so that he could procure one of appellant's neighbors to counter the reply testimony of the police officer. This witness lived several miles from the Aiken County Courthouse in the town of New Ellenton. The request for a recess was denied. In such matters the trial judge is vested with a discretion. State v. Simmons, 208 S.C. 538, 38 S.E.2d 705 (1946); and Goethe v. Browning, 146 S.C. 7, 143 S.E. 362 (1928). The reply testimony was made necessary by the evidence which the appellant had submitted. The reply testimony did not go beyond a refutation of that which the appellant's witness had asserted. It can hardly be argued that the appellant's counsel was taken by surprise. The recess was requested for the purpose of trying to fortify the appellant's own evidence, and was at most corroborative. We find no error.


While the solicitor was arguing to the jury for conviction, counsel for the appellant interrupted to object to the argument.

The record reflects the following:

'THE COURT: What aspects of the argument are improper?

'MR. ALLGOOD (defense counsel): His argument to the effect that this jury is obligated to serve notice on others and what they do in this case will serve as a deterrent to others. And his argument that if they turn every man loose simply because you are afraid of convicting an innocent man, you're not doing your job. Those statements, first of all, are contrary to the principle of law in this case; and secondly, to say what effect the outcome of this case will have in other areas is highly prejudicial, and I move for a mistrial.

'THE COURT: All right, motion denied. I think the argument in general is proper within the broad range and latitude of argument allowed by the court. I think to a limited extent, you may continue your argument in this regard, Solicitor.'

Counsel submits that this argument, coupled with the judge's ruling and comment, was prejudicial, requiring a mistrial and warranting a new trial at the hands of this Court.

This Court, in State v. White, 246 S.C. 502, 144 S.E.2d 481 (1965), has recognized that the trial judge is allowed a wide discretion in dealing with the range and propriety of argument of the solicitor to the jury, and ordinarily his rulings on such matters will not be disturbed. It is difficult for this Court to delicately evaluate the impact of the argument complained of, because we do not have before us the full argument or the evidence, and do not know in what overall context the argument was made. On the other hand, the trial judge heard all of the evidence and heard the entire argument, and he was in a much better position to weigh the effect and possible prejudice. A new trial should not be granted unless the appellant shows that there has been an abuse of discretion.

This Court, on numerous occasions, has held that the duty of a...

To continue reading

Request your trial
48 cases
  • State v. Tucker
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • September 17, 1996
    ...477 U.S. 168, 106 S.Ct. 2464, 91 L.Ed.2d 144 (1986). The burden of proof is on Appellant to show prejudice. State v. Durden, 264 S.C. 86, 212 S.E.2d 587 (1975). VI. Appellant argues the trial judge erred in refusing to charge involuntary and voluntary manslaughter to the jury. We disagree. ......
  • State v. Copeland
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • November 10, 1982
    ...propriety of the solicitor's argument to the jury, and ordinarily his rulings on such matters will not be disturbed. State v. Durden, 264 S.C. 86, 212 S.E.2d 587 (1975). We find no Next, appellant Copeland argues the trial judge improperly commented on the facts during his instruction on th......
  • State v. Northcutt
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • February 20, 2007 the context of the entire record. State v. Woomer, 277 S.C. 170, 174-75, 284 S.E.2d 357, 359 (1981) (citing State v. Durden, 264 S.C. 86, 212 S.E.2d 587 (1975), and State v. Linder, 276 S.C. 304, 278 S.E.2d 335 When viewed in the context of the entire record, I do not believe that the so......
  • State v. Davis
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • May 18, 1992
    ...referred to circumstantial evidence which the jury was required to consider in arriving at its verdict. See State v. Durden, 264 S.C. 86, 212 S.E.2d 587 (1975). C. Overbreadth of Kidnapping Aggravating Davis next asserts that the statutory definition of "kidnapping" is overbroad. We disagre......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT