State v. Pierce, No. 22597

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtFINNEY; NESS
Citation289 S.C. 430,346 S.E.2d 707
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. Marcellus PIERCE, Jr., Appellant. . Heard
Docket NumberNo. 22597
Decision Date07 January 1986

Page 707

346 S.E.2d 707
289 S.C. 430
The STATE, Respondent,
v.
Marcellus PIERCE, Jr., Appellant.
No. 22597.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
Heard Jan. 7, 1986.
Decided July 21, 1986.

Page 709

[289 S.C. 432] Atty. Gen. T. Travis Medlock, Asst. Attys. Gen. Harold M. Coombs, Jr., Amie L. Clifford; and James C. Anders, Sol. of the Fifth Judicial Circuit, all of Columbia, for respondent.

Deputy Chief Atty. Elizabeth C. Fullwood, of the South Carolina Office of Appellate Defense; John M. Young; and Jerry M. Screen, Columbia, for appellant.

FINNEY, Justice:

The appellant, Marcellus Pierce, Jr., and co-defendants, William Anthony Nesmith and Benjamin Anthony Joyner, were convicted of murder, kidnapping, first degree criminal sexual conduct, grand larceny and conspiracy. Appellant was sentenced to death. His direct appeal and mandatory sentence review [S.C.Code Ann. Section 16-3-25 (1984) ] are consolidated for purposes of this opinion.

Appellant raises numerous allegations of error. We reverse and remand.

FACTS

Barbara Rossi was abducted from the Woodhill Mall parking lot in Richland County and taken to a nearby remote area, where she was raped, robbed and shot to death. Pierce and co-defendants Nesmith and Joyner were indicted and tried together for the crimes. Both Joyner and Nesmith testified at trial as to their participation in the crimes, but they attested that Pierce actually shot Ms. Rossi. Pierce did not testify at trial.

JURY INSTRUCTIONS

The trial judge instructed the jury in his introductory charge not to deliberate about the case until it is concluded. He further instructed, "By that also I don't say that in the evening or during lunch or something you are not naturally going to be talking about the case." Prior to the weekend recess, the trial judge again instructed the jury, [289 S.C. 433] "I don't suggest for a moment that you would not as human beings talk about the trial and what is going on. Do not start making up your minds about what your verdict should be."

Pierce contends that the jury instructions invited the jury to prematurely deliberate the case and are reversible error. We agree.

This Court has held that a jury should not begin discussing the case, nor deciding the issues, until all the evidence has been introduced, the arguments of counsel complete, and the applicable law charged. State v. Gill, 273 S.C. 190, 255 S.E.2d 455 (1979); State v. McGuire, 272 S.C. 547, 253 S.E.2d 103 (1979). The reasoning behind this holding against premature jury deliberation is best set out in McGuire, 272 S.C. at 552, 253 S.E.2d 103, wherein the Court stated: "The human mind is constituted such that when a juror declares himself, touching any controversy, he is apt to stand by his utterances to the other jurors in defiance of evidence. A fair trial is more likely if each juror keeps his own counsel until the appropriate time for deliberation."

In State v. Gill, the trial judge instructed the jury that they could discuss the case in the jury room. He further instructed the jury not to attempt to reach a decision until told by the court to begin their deliberations. This Court found that this improper and inconsistent instruction to discuss the

Page 710

case amounted to an invitation to the jurors to begin their deliberations before the close of the case and that it was inherently prejudicial and required reversal.

State v. Gill is not materially distinguishable from the case at bar. The challenged instruction in this case implicitly invited the jury to discuss the case, which is tantamount to deliberation, prior to its completion....

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28 practice notes
  • State v. Torrence, No. 23403
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • May 1, 1989
    ...13 (1987); State v. Riddle, 291 S.C. 232, 353 S.E.2d 138 (1987); State v. Cooper, 291 S.C. 332, 353 S.E.2d 441 (1986); State v. Pierce, 289 S.C. 430, 346 S.E.2d 707 State v. Damon, 285 S.C. 125, 328 S.E.2d 628 (1985), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 865, 106 S.Ct. 187, 88 L.Ed.2d 156, reh. denied, 4......
  • State v. Drayton, No. 22778
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • March 10, 1987
    ...L.Ed.2d 730 (1965), the Supreme Court held it is impermissible to comment upon a defendant's failure to testify. See also State v. Pierce, 289 S.C. 430, 346 S.E.2d 707 (1986); State v. Gunter, 286 S.C. 556, 335 S.E.2d 542 [293 S.C. 424] The remarks here were imprudent and we caution that su......
  • State v. Northcutt, No. 26271.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • February 20, 2007
    ...of the jury by the court cures most errors. See State v. Ard, 332 S.C. 370, 386, 505 S.E.2d 328, 336 (1998) (citing State v. Pierce, 289 S.C. 430, 346 S.E.2d 707 (1986)).12 Instead of following this jurisprudence in the capital arena, I believe we have ignored it. We ought to be more dutifu......
  • State v. Ard, No. 24840.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • September 14, 1998
    ...judge instructed the jury not to consider parole eligibility, it is presumed the jury did not in fact consider parole. State v. Pierce, 289 S.C. 430, 346 S.E.2d 707 (1986), overruled in part on other grounds, State v. Torrence, supra (jurors are presumed to follow the law as instructed). Mo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
28 cases
  • State v. Torrence, No. 23403
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • May 1, 1989
    ...13 (1987); State v. Riddle, 291 S.C. 232, 353 S.E.2d 138 (1987); State v. Cooper, 291 S.C. 332, 353 S.E.2d 441 (1986); State v. Pierce, 289 S.C. 430, 346 S.E.2d 707 State v. Damon, 285 S.C. 125, 328 S.E.2d 628 (1985), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 865, 106 S.Ct. 187, 88 L.Ed.2d 156, reh. denied, 4......
  • State v. Drayton, No. 22778
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • March 10, 1987
    ...L.Ed.2d 730 (1965), the Supreme Court held it is impermissible to comment upon a defendant's failure to testify. See also State v. Pierce, 289 S.C. 430, 346 S.E.2d 707 (1986); State v. Gunter, 286 S.C. 556, 335 S.E.2d 542 [293 S.C. 424] The remarks here were imprudent and we caution that su......
  • State v. Northcutt, No. 26271.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • February 20, 2007
    ...of the jury by the court cures most errors. See State v. Ard, 332 S.C. 370, 386, 505 S.E.2d 328, 336 (1998) (citing State v. Pierce, 289 S.C. 430, 346 S.E.2d 707 (1986)).12 Instead of following this jurisprudence in the capital arena, I believe we have ignored it. We ought to be more dutifu......
  • State v. Ard, No. 24840.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • September 14, 1998
    ...judge instructed the jury not to consider parole eligibility, it is presumed the jury did not in fact consider parole. State v. Pierce, 289 S.C. 430, 346 S.E.2d 707 (1986), overruled in part on other grounds, State v. Torrence, supra (jurors are presumed to follow the law as instructed). Mo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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