State v. Parker, No. 4475.

CourtCourt of Appeals of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtAnderson
Citation671 S.E.2d 619,381 S.C. 68
Docket NumberNo. 4475.
Decision Date23 December 2008
PartiesSTATE of South Carolina, Respondent, v. Rodney R. PARKER, Jr., Appellant.
671 S.E.2d 619
381 S.C. 68
STATE of South Carolina, Respondent,
v.
Rodney R. PARKER, Jr., Appellant.
No. 4475.
Court of Appeals of South Carolina.
Heard December 11, 2008.
Decided December 23, 2008.

[671 S.E.2d 620]

Robert M. Dudek, Deputy Chief Appellate Defender for Capital Appeals, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Attorney General Henry D. McMaster, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Donald J. Zelenka, Senior Assistant Attorney General William Edgar Salter, III, all of Columbia; and Solicitor I. McDuffie Stone, III, of Beaufort, for Respondent.

[671 S.E.2d 621]

ANDERSON, J.:


Rodney R. Parker, Jr., ("Parker") was convicted of the armed robbery of an Ashepoo grocery store and the murder of its employee, English Jack Savage. Parker confessed after being apprehended. He appeals his conviction arguing the trial judge erred ruling his confession was admissible and by denying his motion for a change of venue. We affirm.

FACTUAL/PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The events leading up to Parker's confession occurred primarily on the night of December 26, 2003, and into the morning of December 27, 2003. Parker was wanted by law enforcement in connection to numerous crimes. Multiple agencies participated in the investigation and manhunt including the highway patrol, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the Colleton County Sheriff's Department, and the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The search utilized helicopters and two bloodhound units. Joe Boykin, an ATF agent who testified at the Jackson v. Denno hearing, became involved with the pursuit of Parker because many of the crimes committed were federal offenses.

Authorities were tipped off that Parker and his co-defendant, Jaquan Ferrell, had stolen a Mercedes Benz in Columbia and were traveling towards Colleton County. Interstate 95 was shut down for an hour causing a significant back-up of holiday traffic. The various law enforcement agencies created a command post by taking over a rest area. Parker and Ferrell were spotted in the car and crashed following a high speed chase. The pair fled into a wooded area and spent the night without shelter or warm clothing as the temperature dipped below freezing.

Early the next morning, Parker and Ferrell were seen running across a dirt road. Boykin, Investigator Philip Roberson and Officer Hampton Jenkins, both with the Colleton County Sheriff's Department, responded to the area. They eventually observed Parker lying on the ground with his hands under his body. Despite being commanded to "show us your hands," Boykin testified Parker refused to obey. After Roberson discharged a warning shot, Parker jumped up and ran away. Roberson and Jenkins both fired as he fled. Boykin opined Roberson was shooting to kill. Soon after, bloodhounds tracked Parker and he was tackled during a foot chase.

When Parker was apprehended, Boykin estimated there were approximately thirty agents and officers on the scene. Boykin asked Parker if he was okay and whether he needed a doctor. Parker only complained of being cold and was placed in the back of a heated police car. Boykin noted that Parker was angry with Roberson for having tried to shoot him. He inquired whether Parker would be willing to speak with him and if he wanted his father present. Parker responded affirmatively to both questions. After being examined and treated at the hospital, Parker confessed at the sheriff's department. The majority of his oral confession was videotaped. A jury found him guilty, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and thirty years imprisonment for armed robbery.

ISSUES

(1) Did the trial court err in determining Parker's statement was admissible?

(2) Did the trial court err in denying Parker's motion to change venue due to pretrial publicity?

STANDARD OF REVIEW

In criminal cases, the appellate court sits to review errors of law only. State v. Baccus, 367 S.C. 41, 48, 625 S.E.2d 216, 220 (2006); State v. Wilson, 345 S.C. 1, 545 S.E.2d 827 (2001); State v. Wood, 362 S.C. 520, 608 S.E.2d 435 (Ct.App.2004). This court is bound by the trial court's factual findings unless they are clearly erroneous. State v. Quattlebaum, 338 S.C. 441, 527 S.E.2d 105 (2000); State v. Amerson, 311 S.C. 316, 428 S.E.2d 871 (1993); State v. Landis, 362 S.C. 97, 606 S.E.2d 503 (Ct.App. 2004).

671 S.E.2d 622

The trial judge determines the admissibility of a statement upon proof of its voluntariness by a preponderance of the evidence. State v. Miller, 375 S.C. 370, 378, 652 S.E.2d 444, 448 (Ct.App.2007) (citing State v. Washington, 296 S.C. 54, 55, 370 S.E.2d 611, 612 (1988); State v. Smith, 268 S.C. 349, 354, 234 S.E.2d 19, 21 (1977)); State v. Arrowood, 375 S.C. 359, 365, 652 S.E.2d 438, 441 (Ct.App. 2007). If admitted, the jury must then determine whether the statement was given freely and voluntarily beyond a reasonable doubt. Washington, 296 S.C. at 55-56, 370 S.E.2d at 612.

"Factual conclusions as to the voluntariness of a statement will not be disturbed on appeal unless so manifestly erroneous as to show an abuse of discretion." Arrowood, 375 S.C. at 365, 652 S.E.2d at 441; Baccus, 367 S.C. at 48, 625 S.E.2d at 220; State v. Saltz, 346 S.C. 114, 551 S.E.2d 240 (2001); State v. Kennedy, 333 S.C. 426, 429, 510 S.E.2d 714, 715 (1998); State v. Von Dohlen, 322 S.C. 234, 242, 471 S.E.2d 689, 695 (1996). "In criminal cases, appellate courts are bound by fact finding in response to preliminary motions where there has been conflicting testimony or where the findings are supported by the evidence and not clearly wrong or controlled by an error of law." State v. Asbury, 328 S.C. 187, 193, 493 S.E.2d 349, 352 (1997) (citing State v. Amerson, 311 S.C. at 320, 428 S.E.2d at 873); State v. Franklin, 299 S.C. 133, 138, 382 S.E.2d 911, 914 (1989). "When reviewing a trial court's ruling concerning voluntariness, this Court does not reevaluate the facts based on its own view of the preponderance of the evidence, but simply determines whether the trial court's ruling is supported by any evidence." Saltz, 346 S.Ct. at 136, 551 S.E.2d at 252; State v. Breeze, 379 S.C. 538, 543, 665 S.E.2d 247, 250 (Ct.App.2008); Miller, 375 S.C. at 378-79, 652 S.E.2d at 448.

LAW/ANALYSIS

I. In camera Hearing and Ruling on Oral and Transcribed Statements.

Parker argues the trial court erred in ruling his statement was admissible because he: (1) was a minor, (2) was examined at a hospital after being apprehended, (3) spent the night outdoors in the cold, (4) was shot at by police, (5) spent three and a half hours being interviewed, (6) confessed to an agent who admittedly sought to manipulate him, and (7) because his father "aided the police." After examining the record, we disagree.

"A criminal defendant is deprived of due process if his conviction is founded, in whole or in part, upon an involuntary confession." State v. Pittman, 373 S.C. 527, 565, 647 S.E.2d 144, 164 (2007) (citing Jackson v. Denno, 378 U.S. 368, 377, 84 S.Ct. 1774, 12 L.Ed.2d 908 (1964)), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 128 S.Ct. 1872, 170 L.Ed.2d 751 (2008). In State v. Miller, this court instructed:

The process for determining whether a statement is voluntary, and thus admissible, is bifurcated; it involves determinations by both the judge and the jury. First, the trial judge must conduct an evidentiary hearing, outside the presence of the jury, where the State must show the statement was voluntarily made by a preponderance of the evidence. Jackson v. Denno, 378 U.S. 368, 376, 84 S.Ct. 1774, 12 L.Ed.2d 908 (1964). If the statement is found to have been given voluntarily, it is then submitted to the jury, where its voluntariness must be established beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Washington, 296 S.C. 54, 56, 370 S.E.2d 611, 612 (1988).

Miller, 375 S.C. at 380, 652 S.E.2d at 448; Arrowood, 375 S.C. at 366, 652 S.E.2d at 442. See also Lego v. Twomey, 404 U.S. 477, 489, 92 S.Ct. 619, 30 L.Ed.2d 618 ("[T]he prosecution must prove ... by a preponderance of the evidence that the confession was voluntary."); State v. Smith, 268 S.C. 349, 354, 234 S.E.2d 19, 21 (1977) ("It has been uniformly held, a confession may be introduced upon proof of its voluntariness by a preponderance of the evidence."); State v. Neeley, 271 S.C. 33, 40, 244 S.E.2d 522, 526 (1978) ("[T]he burden is on the State to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that [these] rights were voluntarily waived.").

Upon motion of the defense counsel, the trial judge held a pretrial Jackson v. Denno hearing to determine the admissibility of Parker's oral and written statements. The State presented ATF Agent Joe Boykin and

671 S.E.2d 623

three members of the Colleton County Sheriff's Department: Investigator Philip Roberson, former investigator Leslie Jamison, and Investigator Angela McAllister Stallings. The judge viewed the videotaped portion of the oral confession.

Boykin told the trial judge details concerning how he, as a federal agent, came to be involved in the investigation and manhunt. He explained he, Roberson and Jenkins spotted Parker in the woods, ordered him to show his hands, and that shots were fired as he ran. Parker was eventually tackled, handcuffed and placed in a heated police car. In Roberson's presence, Boykin read Parker his Miranda warnings. At the time, Parker's main complaint was that he was cold. Boykin estimated the arrest occurred at seven or eight o'clock in the morning.

Parker's Miranda warnings were given by Boykin a second time at the sheriff's department prior to the questioning, but Boykin had no knowledge that a written waiver form was provided. The videotaping was not initiated until fifteen to twenty minutes after Parker had been placed in the interview room because the equipment was locked in an adjoining office. Boykin discussed only "generalities" as they waited for Parker's father to arrive. When asked to describe Parker's physical appearance at the...

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17 practice notes
  • State v. Moses, No. 4758.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • December 20, 2010
    ...S.C. 42, 47-48, 681 S.E.2d 23, 26-27 (Ct.App.2009) (defendant's awareness of rights, coercion, environment, education); State v. Parker, 381 S.C. 68, 85-93, 671 S.E.2d 619, 627-32 (Ct.App.2008) (age, education, physical and mental state of defendant, misrepresentations of evidence by police......
  • State v. Johnson, Appellate Case No. 2014-001219
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • January 30, 2018
    ...the jury must then determine whether the statement was given freely and voluntarily beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Parker , 381 S.C. 68, 74, 671 S.E.2d 619, 622 (Ct. App. 2008) (citations omitted). "When reviewing a trial court's ruling concerning voluntariness, this [c]ourt......
  • State v. Bonilla, Appellate Case No. 2016-001725
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • December 31, 2019
    ...or where the findings are supported by the evidence and not clearly wrong or controlled by an error of law." State v. Parker , 381 S.C. 68, 74, 671 S.E.2d 619, 622 (Ct. App. 2008) (quoting State v. Asbury , 328 S.C. 187, 193, 493 S.E.2d 349, 352 (1997) ).429 S.C. 272 Admission of evide......
  • Balzaga v. Fox News Network, LLC, No. D052743.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • May 14, 2009
    ...opn., ante, at p. 1340.) Law enforcement officers conduct manhunts in furtherance of investigations. (See, e.g., State v. Parker (2008) 381 S.C. 68 [671 S.E.2d 619, 621] ["Multiple agencies participated in the investigation and manhunt including the highway patrol, the South Carolina L......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
17 cases
  • State v. Moses, No. 4758.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • December 20, 2010
    ...S.C. 42, 47-48, 681 S.E.2d 23, 26-27 (Ct.App.2009) (defendant's awareness of rights, coercion, environment, education); State v. Parker, 381 S.C. 68, 85-93, 671 S.E.2d 619, 627-32 (Ct.App.2008) (age, education, physical and mental state of defendant, misrepresentations of evidence by police......
  • State v. Johnson, Appellate Case No. 2014-001219
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • January 30, 2018
    ...the jury must then determine whether the statement was given freely and voluntarily beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Parker , 381 S.C. 68, 74, 671 S.E.2d 619, 622 (Ct. App. 2008) (citations omitted). "When reviewing a trial court's ruling concerning voluntariness, this [c]ourt......
  • State v. Bonilla, Appellate Case No. 2016-001725
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • December 31, 2019
    ...or where the findings are supported by the evidence and not clearly wrong or controlled by an error of law." State v. Parker , 381 S.C. 68, 74, 671 S.E.2d 619, 622 (Ct. App. 2008) (quoting State v. Asbury , 328 S.C. 187, 193, 493 S.E.2d 349, 352 (1997) ).429 S.C. 272 Admission of evide......
  • Balzaga v. Fox News Network, LLC, No. D052743.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • May 14, 2009
    ...opn., ante, at p. 1340.) Law enforcement officers conduct manhunts in furtherance of investigations. (See, e.g., State v. Parker (2008) 381 S.C. 68 [671 S.E.2d 619, 621] ["Multiple agencies participated in the investigation and manhunt including the highway patrol, the South Carolina L......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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