State v. Koon, No. 21828

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtHARWELL; LEWIS
Citation298 S.E.2d 769,278 S.C. 528
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. Paul F. KOON, Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 21828
Decision Date20 December 1982

Page 769

298 S.E.2d 769
278 S.C. 528
The STATE, Respondent,
v.
Paul F. KOON, Appellant.
No. 21828.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
Dec. 20, 1982.

Page 770

[278 S.C. 530] David I. Bruck, of S.C. Com'n of Appellate Defense, Columbia, and Michael L. Johnson and James E. Whittle, Jr., Aiken, for appellant.

[278 S.C. 531] Atty. Gen. Daniel R. McLeod, Sr. Asst. Atty. Gen. Brian P. Gibbes and Asst. Atty. Gen. Preston F. McDaniel, Columbia, and Sol. Robert J. Harte, Aiken, for respondent.

HARWELL, Justice.

Appellant was convicted of murder by an Aiken County jury. After finding that appellant committed the murder while in the commission of a kidnapping, the jury recommended the death penalty. Thereafter, the trial judge sentenced the appellant to death. This case consolidates the appellant's direct appeal and mandatory review of the death sentence.

On September 6, 1980, several witnesses saw a man abduct a young woman as she was entering an automobile in an Augusta,

Page 771

Georgia shopping center parking lot. Witnesses stated the man shoved the victim into another automobile and then drove away with her. A license check revealed the abandoned automobile belonged to Valerie White Newsome. On October 11, 1980, appellant was arrested on unrelated charges in Aiken County. Three days later appellant led police officers to Ms. Newsome's body. Appellant was subsequently charged with and convicted of Ms. Newsome's murder.

Appellant alleges several errors occurred during his trial requiring a reversal of his conviction and sentence of death. We affirm his conviction, vacate his sentence of death, and remand for resentencing.

I. Guilt or Innocence Phase

Appellant first alleges that the trial court erred in denying his pretrial motion for a change of venue due to pretrial publicity. Where, as here, the trial judge bases his ruling on adequate voir dire examination of the jurors, his conclusion will not be disturbed absent extraordinary circumstances. State v. Thompson, 292 S.E.2d 581 (corrected), (S.C.1982); State v. Plath, 277 S.C. 126, 284 S.E.2d 221 (1981). The record reflects an extensive voir dire bearing no extraordinary circumstances. We addressed the issue of pre-voir dire change of venue motions with the "aims of clarity and finality" in State v. Truesdale, 296 S.E.2d 528 (S.C.1982). This issue is without merit.

[278 S.C. 532] In addition to the pretrial publicity, appellant asserts his motion for a change of venue should have been granted because during one of the trial recesses, a woman approached several of the jurors and stated that the appellant should be given the death penalty to save the taxpayers' money. Appellant alleges this statement reflected the community sentiment and therefore supported his motion for a change of venue. We disagree. The trial judge questioned each of the jurors who heard the statement and ruled that they were not affected by it. He took proper precautions to determine that the court's integrity was not obstructed by the woman's statements. State v. Stewart, 295 S.E.2d 627 (S.C.1982). We conclude the trial court properly denied the change of venue motion.

Next, appellant challenges the selection of jurors. Specifically, he argues two prospective jurors were wrongfully disqualified due to their unwillingness to vote for capital punishment. Both prospective jurors stated emphatically during voir dire that they did not believe in the death penalty. This particular issue has been decided against appellant previously and is without merit. State v. Butler, 290 S.E.2d 420 (S.C.1982). We recently addressed the general issue of lengthy and superfluous voir dire in State v. Smart, 299 S.E.2d 686, S.C., 1982. In Smart we reminded trial judges of their authority and duty to restrict questioning of prospective jurors to inquiries into whether a juror is related to either party, has any interest in the cause, has expressed or formed any opinion, or is sensible of any bias or prejudice therein. In this case, the voir dire alone consumed over one-third of the total transcript. We are confident that upon retrial, the trial judge will limit voir dire to that contemplated by S.C.Code Ann. § 14-7-1020 (1976) and State v. Smart, supra.

Appellant alleges that the police obtained certain inculpatory statements and conduct in violation of his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. We disagree. The inculpatory evidence consists of an oral statement, a map drawn by appellant indicating the location of the victim's body, and the appellant's ultimate act of leading police officers to the body. In determining whether an accused has intelligently waived his constitutional rights, we must consider the facts and circumstances[278 S.C. 533] of each case including the background, experience, and conduct of the accused. State v. Goolsby, 275 S.C. 110, 268 S.E.2d 31 (1980). We conclude that appellant intelligently and voluntarily waived his rights to counsel and to remain silent.

Aiken County police officers informed appellant of his constitutional rights

Page 772

under Miranda v. Arizona contemporaneously with his arrest. Appellant initially signed a waiver of rights form but then requested an attorney. He subsequently conversed exclusively with his attorneys for the following two and a half days. Sergeant Beard from the Richmond County Georgia Sheriff's Department testified that on the third day he asked appellant's attorney for, and was given, permission to talk with appellant. Appellant's attorney testified he did not remember giving the sergeant permission; however, he did not deny it. The sergeant stated he readvised appellant of his rights, and appellant then expressed a willingness to talk without his attorney's presence. After an hour of questioning, appellant stated that he would disclose the location of the body but that he first wanted to converse with his attorney. Consequently, questioning ceased, and the sergeant summoned appellant's attorney. After conferring with his client, the attorney informed the police officers that appellant would reveal the location of the victim's body. Appellant then drew a map indicating the site. Armed with the map, police officers and appellant's attorney attempted, but were unable, to discover the body. They returned to the jail and requested appellant to accompany them. He consented while in his attorney's presence. His attorney, however, declined to go with him and the officers to the site. On the way, officers readvised appellant of his rights. They did not interrogate him. Thereafter, appellant stated that he had not sexually molested or stabbed the victim. With the appellant's direction, the officers then...

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33 practice notes
  • Havard v. State, No. 2006-DR-01161-SCT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • May 22, 2008
    ...during his time spent in jail. The trial court ruled that under the South Carolina Supreme Court's previous decision in State v. Koon, 278 S.C. 528, 298 S.E.2d 769 (1982), such evidence was irrelevant and inadmissible. Skipper was sentenced to death, and he appealed. Skipper, 476 U.S. at 3,......
  • Whalen v. State
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Delaware
    • July 2, 1984
    ...709 F.2d at 1447. See also State v. Jordan, Ariz.Supr., 137 Ariz. 504, 672 P.2d 169 (1983); State v. Koon, S.C.Supr., 278 S.E.2d 528, 298 S.E.2d 769 In conclusion we find that the death penalty is not a grossly disproportionate and excessive punishment for a defendant found guilty of felony......
  • Coleman v. Risley, No. 85-4242
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • January 19, 1988
    ...F.2d 1116, 1120 (7th Cir.) (same; citing authorities), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 1091, 103 S.Ct. 578, 74 L.Ed.2d 938 (1982); State v. Koon, 298 S.E.2d 769, 773 (S.C.1982) (death penalty context) (disapproved on other grounds in Skipper, 476 U.S. 1, 106 S.Ct. Page 460 1669, 90 L.Ed.2d 1); Alvor......
  • Smith v. State, No. 140
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • November 28, 1986
    ...rapes committed by defendant deemed material and relevant to court's inquiry of defendant's moral character). Similarly, in State v. Koon, 278 S.C. 528, 298 S.E.2d 769 (1982), the defendant was convicted of kidnapping a woman from a shopping center parking lot. At his sentencing, testimony ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
33 cases
  • Havard v. State, No. 2006-DR-01161-SCT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • May 22, 2008
    ...during his time spent in jail. The trial court ruled that under the South Carolina Supreme Court's previous decision in State v. Koon, 278 S.C. 528, 298 S.E.2d 769 (1982), such evidence was irrelevant and inadmissible. Skipper was sentenced to death, and he appealed. Skipper, 476 U.S. at 3,......
  • Whalen v. State
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Delaware
    • July 2, 1984
    ...709 F.2d at 1447. See also State v. Jordan, Ariz.Supr., 137 Ariz. 504, 672 P.2d 169 (1983); State v. Koon, S.C.Supr., 278 S.E.2d 528, 298 S.E.2d 769 In conclusion we find that the death penalty is not a grossly disproportionate and excessive punishment for a defendant found guilty of felony......
  • Coleman v. Risley, No. 85-4242
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • January 19, 1988
    ...F.2d 1116, 1120 (7th Cir.) (same; citing authorities), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 1091, 103 S.Ct. 578, 74 L.Ed.2d 938 (1982); State v. Koon, 298 S.E.2d 769, 773 (S.C.1982) (death penalty context) (disapproved on other grounds in Skipper, 476 U.S. 1, 106 S.Ct. Page 460 1669, 90 L.Ed.2d 1); Alvor......
  • Smith v. State, No. 140
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • November 28, 1986
    ...rapes committed by defendant deemed material and relevant to court's inquiry of defendant's moral character). Similarly, in State v. Koon, 278 S.C. 528, 298 S.E.2d 769 (1982), the defendant was convicted of kidnapping a woman from a shopping center parking lot. At his sentencing, testimony ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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