State v. Walker

Decision Date28 November 2005
Docket NumberNo. 4049.,4049.
Citation623 S.E.2d 122
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. Patrick B. WALKER, Appellant.
CourtSouth Carolina Supreme Court

Susannah Ross, of Greenville, for Appellant.

Attorney General Henry Dargan McMaster, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Donald J. Zelenka and Assistant Attorney General Derrick K. McFarland, all of Columbia; and Solicitor Robert M. Ariail, of Greenville, for Respondent.


Patrick B. Walker appeals his conviction for the murder of Rodrekus King. We affirm.1


On Thursday, March 21, 2002, Earnetta King served dinner to her boyfriend, Patrick Walker, and to her three children: Rodrekus, Brittany and Javario. As the family gathered to eat, King tasted the food and accused someone of "adding something." After denying that he had added anything, Walker blamed Rodrekus. Rodrekus refuted the accusation. Walker responded by slapping Rodrekus in the head. At that point, King sent Brittany and Javario to their rooms. At 2:15 a.m. on Friday, March 22, 2002, Rodrekus was pronounced dead as a result of multiple blunt-force injuries.

Brittany King was nine years old at the time of her brother's death. She testified that after getting sent to her room, she proceeded into Rodrekus's room to watch cable television. Before long, Brittany observed Walker pushing Rodrekus into the bedroom where she was. According to Brittany, Walker was kicking and punching Rodrekus in the head, back and stomach. Shocked, Brittany watched as Walker hit her brother with a metal broom stick on the left side of his body. Rodrekus, who was naked, begged Brittany to help him, but Walker laughed, told her to "shut up," and pushed her away. Finally, Walker ordered Brittany out of Rodrekus's room, but she could hear the fighting continue as she went to sleep that night. Later, Brittany was awakened by a loud "booming" sound. She went back to sleep but woke up again when she heard ambulance sirens. Shortly thereafter, King's father came to pick up Brittany and Javario. Before they left, Walker kissed Brittany on the cheek and threatened her saying, "[d]on't tell the police anything. If you do, then I'll kill you and your momma."

At 12:47 a.m. on March 22, paramedics were alerted that a thirteen-year-old boy had fallen, hit his head in the kitchen, and was having a seizure. By 12:54 a.m., the EMS workers had arrived at Earnetta King's residence. They found Rodrekus unclothed, pulseless, and unresponsive, laying face-up on the floor. A shirtless Walker was attempting CPR. Immediately, the EMS workers prepped Rodrekus for transport to the Greenville Memorial Hospital. At 2:15 a.m., Dr. Allison Jones, an emergency room pediatric physician, declared Rodrekus dead.

As Rodrekus was rushed to the hospital, Deputy Tangie Saylors escorted King to the Law Enforcement Center where she gave her statement to Investigator Paul Silvaggio. King admitted whipping her son with a belt, thick switch, and metal-handled broom because she was upset with him for getting suspended from school. Additionally, King confessed that she was "out of control" and could not stop hitting Rodrekus on his side and shoulder. Because Rodrekus kept moving around as she was hitting him, King accidentally struck his head with the metal handle. King stated Rodrekus fell in the kitchen and hit his head on the counter. At that point, she ran him a bath. As he was getting out of the bathtub, Rodrekus slipped, fell, and hit his head again. According to King, Rodrekus went into convulsions. She asked Walker for help, while she called 911.

At trial, King changed her testimony. King professed that Walker was the sole assailant. When she attempted to intervene, Walker hit her.

Patrick Walker drove himself to the police station after Rodrekus was transported to the hospital. Around 5 a.m. on March 22, Walker issued a statement to Investigator Silvaggio denying any culpability. After Investigator Silvaggio received statements from both King and Walker, he allowed them to leave. Investigator Silvaggio explained that they were not under arrest, but requested that they go home and stay there in case the police needed more information.

On the afternoon of March 22, Investigator Silvaggio attempted to serve Walker with an arrest warrant at his residence. Neither he nor King was home. Over the following weekend, Investigator Silvaggio visited Walker's cousin while looking for Walker. Investigator Silvaggio found Walker's clothing at the cousin's house. At that point, Investigator Silvaggio notified the fugitive squad because he feared that Walker could be on the run. Walker turned himself in on Monday morning, March 25, 2002.

Dr. Allison Jones and Dr. Michael Ward were called as expert witnesses for the State. Dr. Jones stated that she and the emergency room staff at Greenville Memorial were "horrified" by the number of bruises and cuts on Rodrekus' body. According to the coloration of the bruises and the absence of any healing, most of the bruises "looked fairly fresh." In addition, half of Rodrekus' back was one big bruise.

Dr. Jones testified in detail regarding the injuries sustained by Rodrekus:

Large freshly bleeding abrasion . . . with [extensive] scalp hematoma. . . . He also had a . . . scabbed over abrasion to the top of the left ear . . . . Had . . . multiple scabbed cuts and abrasions over the tops of both of his shoulders, a very linear bruise in the middle of his chest, and an area with some superficial cuts and abrasions with a surrounding bruise. The center area, he had a circular shaped bruise with these two linear pieces off of the edge of that circular bruise. Another one-by-one centimeter abrasion or scrape to the inner surface of his arm, and a bruise with a circular or a crescent-shaped end and two linear streaks extending from that crescent-shaped area. . . . And another extensive massive bruise that had a lot of linear marks that overlapped and were through this area in different directions indicating that there was some contact with something to make these lines in a variety of directions.

He also had some torn skin with bruised edges, some reddish subcuticular tissue. . . . Another linear bruise [on] . . . the inner surface of his knee, and multiple scabbed cuts and abrasions across the front parts of both of his legs.

. . . .

This also was another large bruised area that again covers — this is the bottom of his scapula or his shoulder blade, and this. . . is the top of the hip or the top of his buttocks, and the bruise was about half of his back and obviously covered to the midline again. . . . .

He had another avulsed or torn piece of skin, J-shaped or circular in shape to the top of it with a linear or small cut that . . . appeared to . . . have the same pattern as the bruising on the front, but the skin was torn with a cut from that.

Another small cut to the soft tissue or the fleshy tissue of his buttocks, a three centimeter bruise up here on the back of his right arm. Also interesting was that he had a lot of avulsed, torn skin into his fingers and his hand . . . where the skin looked like it had been torn not cut. He had two side-by-side linear bruises . . . looking much like the pattern on the front that we saw with the lines. . . . [A] bruise. . . took up a good portion of his right side with a lot of that bruising over soft, fatty tissue over the buttocks.

Dr. Jones documented an extensive hematoma that covered half of Rodrekus's head. The skin on his entire body was torn with bruised edges. When asked if the bruises on Rodrekus's body would correspond with a fall in the kitchen or bathtub, Dr. Jones answered: "Absolutely not."

Dr. Ward, a forensic pathologist and the medical examiner for Greenville County, examined Rodrekus post-mortem. Dr. Ward explained:

[I]n the chest and abdomen region there are multiple contusions and abrasions, or bruises and scratches. . . . This is a patterned bruise of the skin which is often made by a cylindrical object that when it strikes the skin pushes the blood out to either side, causing a parallel type of bruise. . . . So this is here on the left anterior chest or the left front portion of the chest.

There are . . . deep scratches or abrasions on the chest and upper arm here at the shoulder, just to the left of nipple, and overlying the ribs. . . . [T]here was blood within the underlying subcutaneous tissues and musculature of the chest. . . . .

Down on the abdomen there is a similar, again, parallel contusion of the skin. . . . .

. . . .

. . . [T]here was hemorrhage in basically three layers as we went down deeper . . . into the body. First, the fat of the large intestine, then the small intestine, and then the deep tissues surrounding the pancreas and actually hemorrhage into the pancreas itself.

. . . [On the thighs], there are . . . patterned contusions or bruises of the skin. . . . All of these . . . injuries [except one] showed no indication . . . that they were old, . . . they all appeared fresh with no healing.

The skin of the buttocks was diffusely bruised, much like the hands and the wrists. And multiple incisions were made into the skin and underlying musculature of the buttocks, and there was a great deal of hemorrhage within the skin and musculature of both sides of the buttocks. . . .

. . . .

. . . [T]he injuries to the head of Rodrekus were limited to the left side and left back of his scalp. There were three separate distinct injuries. . . . [There was] an area of abrasion or a scratch right in front of the left ear, right at the top portion of the left ear. This is a linear abrasion right here, and this larger wound is a laceration or a tear in the skin, . . . caused by a blunt object with enough force to actually split the skin open or cause a laceration. . . . Rodrekus' scalp. . . was...

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