State v. Myers, No. 23180

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtTOAL; GREGORY
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. Lucille MYERS and Winston David Myers, Jr., Appellants. . Heard
Decision Date31 October 1989
Docket NumberNo. 23180

Page 551

391 S.E.2d 551
301 S.C. 251
The STATE, Respondent,
v.
Lucille MYERS and Winston David Myers, Jr., Appellants.
No. 23180.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
Heard Oct. 31, 1989.
Decided March 19, 1990.

Page 552

[301 S.C. 252] Joseph L. Savitz, III, of S.C. Office of Appellate Defense, Columbia, Andrew J. Savage, III, Charleston, and Timothy Clay Kulp, North Charleston, for appellants.

Attorney General T. Travis Medlock, Asst. Atty. Gen. Harold M. Coombs, Jr., Staff Atty. Gwendolyn L. Fuller, Columbia, and Sol. Joseph P. Mizzell, Jr., Orangeburg, for respondent.

TOAL, Justice:

The primary issue which we address in this appeal is whether, under the circumstances of this case, the trial judge abused his discretion in refusing to qualify an expert witness for the defense. We hold that he did abuse his discretion, and we reverse and remand this case for a new trial.

[301 S.C. 253] FACTS

On April 20, 1987, shortly after midnight, Winston David Myers, Sr. died from multiple blunt instrument wounds to the face and head. It is unclear from the evidence and testimony whether the appellant Winston David Myers, Jr. (David) was the sole killer, or whether he and his mother, appellant Lucille Myers, acted in concert to bring about the victim's death.

Lucille and Winston Myers had been married for over twenty-six years at the time of Winston's death. Lucille testified that throughout the course of the marriage, Winston beat her and abused her, threatening her with death many times. Much of the time, Lucille testified, the abuse was connected to Winston's drinking. Former neighbors corroborated Lucille's allegations that Winston choked her numerous times, beat her, and pursued her when she attempted to flee from his attacks. Winston was also said to have attacked his son David many times, including instances where he punched his son in the mouth, and where he assaulted him despite the fact that at the time of the assault, David was still recuperating from an automobile accident.

Lucille and a former neighbor testified that Winston was a very strong man, weighing approximately two hundred pounds. He was said to be much stronger than Lucille and David. On many occasions, David and Lucille, as well as David's sister Tammie, had to rush to each other's aid to protect one another from Winston's wrath. Police were called to the scene by neighbors and by Lucille many times.

Page 553

Yet, the family continued to live with Winston, Lucille testifying that she loved her husband very much, and that there were many good times in their marriage to help balance out the bad. Indeed, Lucille testified that there were lengthy periods during the marriage when Winston was not drinking and when he never abused the family. During the latter years of the marriage however, up until Winston's death, the Myers family was embroiled in ever-increasing violence. There was evidence at trial that Winston had threatened to kill Lucille if she ever attempted to leave him. Lucille produced a tape recording at trial which further substantiated Winston's [301 S.C. 254] violent nature and propensity for physical abuse. Two clinical psychologists testified at trial that the case of Lucille and David manifested the classic characteristics of violent familial abuse, and that both Lucille and David believed that they were in great danger from Winston.

On April 11, 1987, Tammie got married. The day after the wedding, Lucille and Winston moved into the mobile home where Winston was to die a week later. By all accounts, this mobile home was isolated. There was no phone in the trailer. The nearest neighbors were approximately four hundred yards away. There appears to have been only one feasible entrance into the trailer, that being the front door.

On the day of Winston's death, Lucille had apparently become very angry with Winston because of her belief that he was having an affair. After noting that Winston was at a place called Jellico's Landing with a woman she suspected as being his paramour, Lucille took a pile of Winston's clothes and dumped them on the ground at Jellico's, cursing Winston and telling him he could stay there instead of at their home. That night, Winston came home demanding to be let inside. He was let in, and Lucille testified that he told her he would kill her if she did not go back to pick up his clothes at Jellico's. Lucille stated that Winston then hit her several times, opened the trailer door, and then threw her out of the trailer to the ground. By the time she got back inside, Lucille testified, David and Winston were fighting on the floor. Winston was allegedly getting the better of his son, choking him, cursing him, and threatening to kill him. In vain, Lucille hit Winston with a baseball bat in an attempt to stop the fight. Lucille allegedly left to go phone for help, and when she returned, she saw that David had mortally wounded Winston by hitting him with a brass duck figurine. She testified that David was in psychological shock, and she told him to leave. Winston died shortly afterwards. An autopsy revealed that he had been drinking shortly before his death.

At trial, Lucille and David claimed that they killed Winston in self-defense, pointing out that there were guns and knives in the trailer at their disposal if they had wanted to trap Winston and murder him. A jury convicted them of voluntary manslaughter and they were sentenced to twelve years confinement.

[301 S.C. 255] LAW/ANALYSIS

A. Directed Verdict

On appeal, the appellants argue that the trial judge erred in failing to grant their motion for a directed verdict of acquittal. We disagree. The State pointed out that after the killing, David disposed of the duck figurine in some bushes, and that...

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40 practice notes
  • State v. Douglas, No. 4075.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • January 23, 2006
    ...the trial court's sound discretion. Fields v. Regional Med. Ctr. Orangeburg, 363 S.C. 19, 609 S.E.2d 506 Page 64 (2005); State v. Myers, 301 S.C. 251, 391 S.E.2d 551 (1990); State v. Harris, 318 S.C. 178, 456 S.E.2d 433 (Ct.App.1995); see also Prince v. Associated Petroleum Carriers, 262 S.......
  • Brown v. State, No. 4297.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • October 5, 2007
    ...Moreover, our supreme court and appellate court have warned solicitors against violation of the Doyle prohibition. State v. Myers, 301 S.C. 251, 258-259, 391 S.E.2d 551, 555 (1990); State v. Arther, 290 S.C. 291, 350 S.E.2d 187 (1986); State v. Holliday, 333 S.C. 332, 509 S.E.2d 280 (Ct. Ap......
  • State v. White, No. 4196.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • January 16, 2007
    ...within the trial court's sound discretion. Fields v. Regional Med. Ctr. Orangeburg, 363 S.C. 19, 609 S.E.2d 506 (2005); State v. Myers, 301 S.C. 251, 391 S.E.2d 551 (1990); State v. Douglas, 367 S.C. 498, 626 S.E.2d 59 (Ct.App.2006) cert. pending; State v. Harris, 318 S.C. 178, 456 S.E.2d 4......
  • Fields v. REGIONAL MED. CENTER ORANGEBURG, No. 3623.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • April 14, 2003
    ...that the witness possesses the necessary learning, skill, or practical experience to enable him to give opinion testimony. State v. Myers, 301 S.C. 251, 391 S.E.2d 551 (1990); Thomas Sand Co. v. Colonial Pipeline Co., 349 S.C. 402, 410-11, 563 S.E.2d 109, 113 (Ct.App.2002). The test is a re......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
40 cases
  • State v. Douglas, No. 4075.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • January 23, 2006
    ...the trial court's sound discretion. Fields v. Regional Med. Ctr. Orangeburg, 363 S.C. 19, 609 S.E.2d 506 Page 64 (2005); State v. Myers, 301 S.C. 251, 391 S.E.2d 551 (1990); State v. Harris, 318 S.C. 178, 456 S.E.2d 433 (Ct.App.1995); see also Prince v. Associated Petroleum Carriers, 262 S.......
  • Brown v. State, No. 4297.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • October 5, 2007
    ...Moreover, our supreme court and appellate court have warned solicitors against violation of the Doyle prohibition. State v. Myers, 301 S.C. 251, 258-259, 391 S.E.2d 551, 555 (1990); State v. Arther, 290 S.C. 291, 350 S.E.2d 187 (1986); State v. Holliday, 333 S.C. 332, 509 S.E.2d 280 (Ct. Ap......
  • State v. White, No. 4196.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • January 16, 2007
    ...within the trial court's sound discretion. Fields v. Regional Med. Ctr. Orangeburg, 363 S.C. 19, 609 S.E.2d 506 (2005); State v. Myers, 301 S.C. 251, 391 S.E.2d 551 (1990); State v. Douglas, 367 S.C. 498, 626 S.E.2d 59 (Ct.App.2006) cert. pending; State v. Harris, 318 S.C. 178, 456 S.E.2d 4......
  • Fields v. REGIONAL MED. CENTER ORANGEBURG, No. 3623.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • April 14, 2003
    ...that the witness possesses the necessary learning, skill, or practical experience to enable him to give opinion testimony. State v. Myers, 301 S.C. 251, 391 S.E.2d 551 (1990); Thomas Sand Co. v. Colonial Pipeline Co., 349 S.C. 402, 410-11, 563 S.E.2d 109, 113 (Ct.App.2002). The test is a re......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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